Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Shiny Happy Unclassified People: Why “Hair” Matters

Free love is in the air—and “Hair.” Forty years after the summer of ’69, the greatest tribal love-rock musical ever sung just won Best Revival of a Musical at the Tony Awards, while Pola Rapaport and Wolfgang Held’s documentary “Hair: Let the Sun Shine In” recently made the micro-cinema rounds.

The film’s clips from recent rehearsals notwithstanding, I’ve yet to see the musical in any of its incarnations (as I developed an aversion to peacenik shit during my punk rock youth). But after watching “Hair: Let the Sun Shine In” which mixes archival footage from the era and the production (along with its surrounding hype) with present-day interviews with the original cast and creative team, I feel like at least I’ve gotten the hippie Cliff’s notes version.

To read the rest visit my Sex Beat column at Carnal Nation.

1 comment:

Don Arrup said...

I was eleven years old when the original production of Hair opened in the East Village and didn't see the road production until I was in high school. By that time the hippies were gone. Though they were a short lived phenomena they had a huge cultural impact. The Green Movement, organic farming, recreational drug use, sexual experimentation, political music along with the Beatniks' eastern mysticism, Yoga and Zen were popularized by the flower children. Most of all they manifested their philosophy of do your own thing. Though they were hopelessly optimistic in their world view they did take a stand against a war ten times the scale of today's conflicts and compulsive enlistment.
I hippie'd a ticket to Hair when it was performed in Central Park last summer. I believe it was the first time it was performed where the action of the play takes place. I love a number of the songs especially the satiric tribute to pollution, Air. Though the music was great that is not what struck me about the show. It was the desperation and chaos of the times that it captured so well. It brought back the riots, racial violence, martial law, generational conflict and social revolutions which were played out on a regular basis in my middle class neighborhood in Baltimore. I don't know if the production can really capture the same magic in a Broadway house that they found under the stars.
In 1970, when i was fourteen a black hippie friend confessed to me that he was gay (a new term to most of us then). That's great, I told him, not considering what he would face from family and other classmates. If there is one thing I owe the hippies it is not having any idea why anyone would give a shit.