Acid Heroes

June 26, 2016

C’mon people now smile on your brother

I had an odd scene one night at this swanky restaurant on Shattuck & Addison. I think it was around 2002.

Anyways, I was drunk (as usual) and I walked by this swanky restaurant one night on my way to Telegraph. And I noticed through the big front window that this 3-piece rock band was playing in the back of the room. They were doing a cover version of that old ’60s chestnut “C’mon People Now” by the Youngbloods (technically the name of the song is “Get Together” but I always think of it as “C’mon People Now” because that’s the hook — “C’mon people now, smile on your brother, everybody get together, try and love one another, right now”). It was one of them big hippie anthems back in the day.

I always liked that song. Its got a lot of personal meaning to me. It was my 8th grade Graduation Ceremony song back in 1970. And this street musician friend of mine — Calvin of Arcata (now deceased) — used to do a killer version of that song back in the 1990s.

Image may contain: people sitting, table, drink and indoor
So I stopped outside the restaurant and listened to the song for awhile. And the band was doing a pretty darn good cover version, too. People stopped as they were walking down the sidewalk and pressed their faces against the window to look at the band. And people started dancing along on the sidewalk. And pretty soon a crowd of people had gathered outside the restaurant to groove to the tune. There’s a certain magic to that song.

But then I started to feel a little cynical. I looked at all the smug, rich, middle-aged white Berkeley liberals — the former “60s generation” — sitting there at their tables with their swanky white tablecloths, eating their expensive dinners and sipping at their fine wines, and grooving to this nostalgic tune from their fabled past. And I remembered all their big talk about “The Revolution” back in the 60s. But now they were as much a part of The Establishment as anybody. And the world was just as fucked as its ever been. If not more so. And all the groovy hippie anthems about love and hippie brotherhood hadn’t amounted to much, either. If anything.

So I was sort of sneering at the whole deal as I walked up to Telegraph

But then an odd thing happened. For no apparent reason I started crying like crazy as I was walking up the street. I’m blubbering away and making those weird contorted facial expressions you make when you’re crying. And that’s embarrassing. To be weeping in public. So I’m trying to hide my face from all the pedestrians I pass on the sidewalk. And it’s weird because it just came out of nowhere. Up to that point I was just having a typical goofy drunken light-hearted evening. So it was like. “Where did THAT come from?”

Anyways, a couple hours later I was walking back down to Shattuck. And I passed the swanky restaurant again. The music was over. And people were sort of milling around. I noticed a flier in the window. The band had been part of a No Nukes benefit concert. And the guy singing had been Jesse Colin Young himself, the guy who had originally done the song in the 60s with the Youngbloods (I guess that explained why it was such an authentic sounding “cover” ha ha).
The last time I had seen a photo of Jesse Colin Young was in the early 70s. And he had a long mane of black hippie hair back then. But now he looked like a graying middle-aged accountant (like most of us he had grown old). Which is why I hadn’t recognized him.

I stuck my head into the restaurant and spotted old Jesse hanging out by the front door.


I start shaking his hand. And I’m pumping away. I’m drunk out of my mind and I’m in full fanboy mode.

“Well thank you very much,” said Jesse Colin Young real graciously.

But he also looked at me a little warily. Because I was glazed. And Mark David Chapman was a big fan too. If you know what I mean. Ha ha.

And then I went back outside and staggered on down the street.

And that’s all I remember about that particular night.



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