Woke up to hear the radio play The Ballad of John & Yoko. I was gratified, not just for this welcome departure from the overplayed Imagine, but because the song so ably embodies the charms of 60s pop music -- or the Boomer soundtrack, if you must.
Here's what I like -- no, love -- about 60s music: I love how nearly every artist on the air took nearly every bit of personal whimsy that occurred to them, then inflated it to mythic proportions. The common criticism is this was an indication of just how grotesquely seriously this generation took itself, but at least it made for interesting songs. So here we have John Lennon, a man who has grown irreparably rich and famous off the music he made with his mates, hopping from country to country with this bird he's taken up, and holding press conferences from their hotel bed. The press responds with the expected head-scratching and contempt -- say, this is perfect material for a song! Keep the melody light, don't clutter it up, but make sure it builds to the expected peak and thumb your nose at The Establishment.
I think the 60s songwriting mode -- for male artists, if not their long-suffering female counterparts -- is to take everything personally, but nothing seriously. The Beatles and Dylan worked in tandem on this school of music, but the apex of this mode is best exemplified by Steely Dan. Fans of the Dan twist their own pretzel logic, trying to locate the sense of their disjointed lyrics, but Fagan & Becker have a fairly stringent approach to their hallucinogenic show-tunes: find a grotesque subject, and see if you can't shine a whimsical light on it.
That's the sort of thing I ate up in my 20s. I could dig the music of my own time -- The Clash, The Cure, The The and finally Nirvana (the cure to The Cure) -- but only if their grim smugness was offset by the giddy smugness of their hippie progenitors. The hippie scene was sure to end badly, but the merry foolishness had genuine charm to it. Occasionally it's fun to re-visit, and that's where you'll find me today.