Column: “Hair” is relevant once again

Avenue Flashes

John Akal
Posted 8/3/22

I was born in late 1959, and that means I grew up in the 1960s and ‘70s. I was always a very progressive minded kid and came from an artistic family that were pretty much at the forefront of the cultural revolution that was happening at the time.

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Column: “Hair” is relevant once again

Avenue Flashes

Posted

I was born in late 1959, and that means I grew up in the 1960s and ‘70s. I was always a very progressive minded kid and came from an artistic family that were pretty much at the forefront of the cultural revolution that was happening at the time. If there was a trend going on, whether is was Andy Warhol’s pop art, Allan Ginsberg’s poetry, Merse Cunningham’s modern dance group or John Cage’s revolutionary modern music, we were definitely all over it. I could write a book about all the things like that I experienced first hand back in those days.

Then there were things like fashion. It was a little weird being the first kid in my class to wear bell bottom jeans and tie dyed t-shirts. I have to be honest here, Golden back in those days was not exactly a trend setting location. We still had actual hitching posts for horses along Washington Avenue, with people riding into town on horseback and “parking” their horses there. No, I’m not kidding you. On any given weekend you could find a couple of them hitched up in front of the Ace High Tavern.

But, one of the biggest things that seemed to cause a stir around here and took a while to catch up was guys with long hair. It wasn’t until the early ‘70s that it became a normal thing to see. But, of course, I was the first kid in my class to adopt that style and had to suffer similar comments like you heard in the Bob Segar song “Turn the Page,” snickers of “is that a boy or a girl?” Never mind that five years later those same goofballs all had hair down over their ears trying futilely to be “hip.”

“Gimme a head with hair, long beautiful hair,” those are some of the lyrics to the title song from the most iconic musical to emerge from the late 1960s. It debuted in 1967 and hit Broadway in 1968, right after the famous Summer of Love in Haight-Ashbury. 

Yes, I’m talking about the musical “Hair.” The one that spawned hit songs like “Aquarius,” “Good Morning Starshine” and “Let The Sunshine In.” It was revolutionary in its day by exploring ideas of identity, community, global responsibility and peace. The story line centers around a group of young people trying to figure things out in an evolving society and opened the doors for positive change that happened over the next several decades. Although today it may be looked at as the quintessential hippy showcase, it was much more than that. Hair’s message brought loads of critical social issues to the front of the public’s attention. It was most certainly a huge part of what laid the groundwork for many things that we now consider to be a normal part of society. Things like equality, earth conservation and the freedom to just be yourself. 

Unfortunately, things have started to move backwards in the opposite direction over the last few years. If you have been following politics and recent trends you have seen some of those positive changes that became actual institutions starting to crumble once again and witnessed a resurgence of a lot of the negative influences that most of us thought were a thing of the past somehow managing to raise their ugly heads again. I don’t want to get political, but seriously…have you seen what’s going on out there lately?

So, maybe it’s a good time to revisit the musical “Hair” and remember its message because over 50 years later, the whole thing has become relevant again.

And you can actually do that, because our own Miner’s Alley Playhouse will be presenting it’s own production of Hair starting on Aug. 5 and running through Oct. 2. Performances will be happening at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights as well a 2 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets run $40 for Students, $46 for Seniors and $49 for Adults plus a $2 processing fee per ticket.

For more information or to order tickets you can check out their website at www.minersalley.com or call the box office at (303) 935-3044. Miners Alley Playhouse is located at 1224 Washington Ave. in Golden.

John Akal is a well-known jazz artist/drummer and leader of the 20-piece Ultraphonic Jazz Orchestra. He also is president of John Akal Imaging, professional commercial photography and multimedia production. He can be reached at jaimaging@aol.com.

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