RIP Scott McKenzie: A Flower-Pop Playlist For the "San Francisco" Folkie
This past Saturday, the world lost Scott McKenzie, the folk songwriter known best for his 1967 hit "San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)," which would end up becoming one of the bedrock anthems of the flower-power generation. The song was written by John Phillips of the Mamas & the Papas, with whom McKenzie worked frequently.
He died at his home in Los Angeles after a long career, which also included co-writing the Beach Boys' 1988 left-field hit "Kokomo." He was 73.
The detailed obit on McKenzie's official site is worth perusing too.
"San Francisco" wasn't too political, which meant it was palatable to the square masses, but it also had a wooly side to it that sated the rebelling waves of kids looking for something different. You've no doubt heard it in most nostalgic film set in the late '60s, from 1994's Forrest Gump, to countless reels of footage featuring shaggy kids lounging in public parks.
The song was just a cog in the machine of a music industry that was churning out great, saccharine rock with violently catchy hooks that is still enjoyed to this day, mostly by oldsters and hipsters searching for melodies to swipe.
(cue LOM saying, "This is all bullshit.")
Time was all this music was oldies-radio fodder, but with the passage of time it's all been relegated to satellite radio and, well, my Rdio account.
Oldies now means Journey, Foreigner and the same Bad Company song on a loop.
In honor of the late McKenzie and the slowly thinning herd of '60s pop architects, here is a playlist of great vintage flower-pop. I tried to skirt farther away from garage and Nuggets stuff, but some of it no doubt seeped into this mix.
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