Monterey Pop

Several fantastic things struck me about this film: One, it took place in my hometown. Two, the song playing through the opening credits was about San Francisco, and that was irritating. Three, most of the performers from the film are dead now. Four, what fantastic music. Five, everyone pretty much dresses the same at these things even now. Six, what a serendipitous series of events that occurred on that one stage at that one music festival.

So often, musicians try to fabricate musical moments. They force the historic nature of the venue or invite special guests or even plan on playing a certain song at a certain time. But this event was not forced. Everything at Monterey Pop–Joplin’s screeches, Jimi’s sexual burning of the guitar, Pete Townshend’s ceremonial smashing of the guitar, Mama Cass’ admiration for Joplin, Ravi Shankar’s epic 20-ish minute jam session–just happened. And everyone was at the top of their game.

This film contains hardly any dialogue, just the occasional comment by the occasional spectator. But it tells a pretty magnificent story without the words. I’m proud to be from Monterey, especially for this reason, because the festival was so unassuming and yet so incredibly influential. I’ll think differently of the musty ol’ Fairgrounds the next time I’m there, that’s for sure.

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