It's Saturday morning and I'm spending two hours listening to Sounds of the Sixties on Radio 2, well it's playing in the background but my mind wanders. The smooth, stylish and timeless tones of Brian Matthew (aged 85 God bless him) join up the various musical strands of a four track decade into a pleasant air brushed on-air reminder of a time that never existed; those swinging fucking sixties. The nation's memoirs regurgitated and exaggerated by text message dedications for all those singles lost at parties or abandoned at the back of the smokey bus. Billy Liar still loves Julie Christie but she's still not for coming back to collect the stilettos she left under the bed and she didn't even open the badly written love letter.
The strange thing is the hypnotic quality and the illusionary power of all those over spun and familiar 45s from lost record labels on endless repeat, a more potent drug right now today than anything smoked or ingested back then. I'm bizarrely transported to some easy and ideal life when everything worth having was two bob, cars were tinny and unreliable and prejudice, bigotry, class and humour were all boiled down into the same entertaining and common thing - 625 powdery lines on the BBC. It's bound together in lots of musical slabs: Janis Joplin screaming but hardly in any discernible pain at all, the Small Faces resonating in a twangy soup of reverb, the Moody Blues with their serious meetings and bad hair cuts and moustaches, Jan and Dean inventing a surf music tragedy with Brian Wilson co-writing from the dead man's curve, Bob Dylan singing like a razor blade, the Kinks giving birth to the rock riff and the hopeless and disembodied cry for light gauge strings to be available for all bedroom bound guitar players, soul music's eccentric search for itself in the rusting black heart of those all-American junkyards, the Stones and the Beatles bickering and squandering their talents, while guys with plumber's mates spectacles and gawky smiles strum sunburst Rickenbackers and sing in perfect harmony - but they never get the girl.
Here it is, all replaying in a non-stop black and white world of teenage angst, repression and odd expressions of misplaced freedom and protest. I'm lost in a sea of Pirate Radio buffoonery and static where eggs are turned in carbon black frying pans and you can cook, smoke and shave all at the same time in any respectable working class kitchen. This non-digital and un-networked world seems so clean and fresh despite it's obviously dirty backside, like the mis-shapen fresh farm shop vegetables and produce that we think have avoided the harsh and cynical distribution of the supermarket systems and Monsanto's sterile bugs. You can't get enough of them but then suddenly you're bloated, sick in the stomach and full of wind and cramps. Collective memory loss, fashion murders and musical credibility never properly make any kind of sense looking back. It was all over by the time I'd gawped at Easy Rider's X certificate closing scenes, the end of the innocence and the decade indeed.
The sixties were great, I was five, then I was fifteen, eyes and mouth wide open to all that passed by and passed away but I never felt part of any of it. It somehow slipped away on the pages and printer's ink of the growling Daily Express and the brassy Sunday People. An expression of pace and change and some bloke who is busy writing a decade's worth of soundtracking and noise to accompany the Space Race and the adoption of the decimal system. The decade we gave it all away. It was all just an elaborate Cold War fish and chip moment, crumpled and in the bin, discarded and soon to be swallowed by the greasy, glittery and unholy seventies. Growing up is not all it's cracked up to be. Reflecting and remembering however is not so bad.