For me there are a few phrases that bring back strong memories of the 1960's and early 70's: "if it feels good, just do it," "sock it to me," and "Sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll." This last one was meant to convey the free and open attitude embodied by the newly energized, British-led music invasion and the free-love, pot-smoking message conveyed by much of that music.
Haight-Ashbury, love-ins, the peace sign, The Vietnam War protests...the list is endless. As a rock and roll radio DJ of this era I was exposed to more than my fair share of this lifestyle. While my conservative friends of today might be surprised at this revelation, I was a product of the 60's, single, hanging out with recording artists, and tasting from the sometimes risky banquet of life.
Luckily, I woke up to the risks I was taking and stopped sometime in my mid 20's, about the time I met my wife-to-be. The thrills were gone and the lifestyle no longer satisfied me.
Flash forward almost fifty years (oh my heavens...really?). The phrase sex, drugs, and rock n' roll has a somewhat different meaning to us today. An older post, Sex: At Our Age? After Retirement?, took a look at the changes in attitudes and expectations of this rather important part of human relationships.
Studies show that healthy adults can anticipate maintaining a sexual life into the 8th decade, or even later. No longer a "test" of performance or virility, sex becomes just one part of an overall, mature, intimate relationship with another person. Usually it is no longer the main course, but part of a well balanced diet.
In the 60's and 70's drugs, not unlike sex, were for recreational purposes. Many of us were not immune to the allure of marijuana, hash, or even LSD. I must quickly add that I never tried, nor had any interest in LSD. But, unlike Bill Clinton, I did inhale the other substances. The most profound effects were sleepiness and the munchies.
Today, drugs mean pills to help me sleep, battle allergies, or the stiffness that comes from arthritis. For my age, I take fewer pills than many of my peers. I am more likely to down a handful of vitamins and minerals to keep what is functioning in working order. My wife has used medical marijuana for a time (very legal in Arizona) to help manage some of her problems.
Rock N' Roll used to be the central core of of my life. As a DJ I was exposed to music all day, everyday. Except when I was asleep, rock music was always playing. Four to six hours a day I'd be in a small radio studio, music blaring at full blast. At home a Jethro Tull or Beatles album would immediately be started upon my return to my apartment. Since my roommate was also a disc jockey, we were always talking about or listening to the latest hits. Rock music paid my bills.
Today, rock n' roll is about memories. When I want to relax I will put on classical or solo piano music, French lounge music, or newer folk music. Occasionally during a weekend of house cleaning, a Beatles, Beach Boys, or Chicago CD will be cranked up. When we owned one, our RV was stocked with dozens of CDs. But, on a daily basis music, in any form, is no longer the constant companion it once was. Spotify tries to get me to listen more, but so far.......
Every week I do take part in a ham radio gathering of people who like to discuss 60's music and television shows. One fellow is near Washington, D.C., another in Omaha, still another in Indiana, and a handful from Tucson, Prescott, and Phoenix. We have a great time trying to answer rather obscure trivia questions. Because of my former profession I have an unfair advantage, so I usually answer last. It is fun and I continue to learn something new most weeks.
Sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll: a simple phrase that captured much of what I remember about my early adulthood. Isn't it interesting that, with a very different interpretation, the same words continue to resonate today.