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What was it like in the 60's and 70's?

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Jake Kobrin View Drop Down
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    Posted: August 28 2011 at 13:35
I've been talking with some older guys about what music was like in the 60's and 70's and it's very interesting to me. I really wonder what it'd be like to have lived back then. 

This is what I've heard: 
The first thing is that supposedly the time that a record would spend on the shelves was very limited. As opposed to nowadays where you can go into a record store and find albums that span a bands entire career, it was like by the time Red was released, you couldn't find ITCOTCK in stores anywhere. When it came to obscure albums on less successful labels, it was even more exaggerated. Original albums by bands like Capability Brown (just as a for example) are so rare because their albums were taken off of the shelf only weeks after the album was released, and not stocked in many stores to begin with. And after they'd been removed, it isn't likely that you'd ever hear about the record in the first place, or be able to order it. And the radio was similar. By 1970 you'd never hear a song from Sgt Peppers or something because 3 years was considered "old." There was also a supposed gap in band audiences. The guys that listened to Black Sabbath weren't the same people that listened to The Beatles, for example (though this wasn't true for everyone, I'm sure.) 

Also I'm pretty sure it was very divided by country, so getting stuff like Amon Duul II in the states would have been very difficult. 

I'm pretty sure if I lived back then, I'd end up buying every album I saw that seemed like prog, psych, or heavy music. 

We have it so easy nowadays to be able to get any album we want with barely moving a muscle, and to receive such a huge amount of recommendations when it comes to what we listen to. 

And then not to mention concert tickets. Nowadays we all buy them online, but I think that people rarely bought tickets in advanced except for arena shows and for those arena shows, they had to wait in line for hours and hours to get a good seat. 

Also supposedly people didn't buy actual LPs until well into the 60's. It was very much the norm to listen to 45's.

But that's just what I've heard. I wasn't there so I'm not sure. 

If anyone has any stories about what it was like back then, I'd be very interested to hear. 


Edited by Jake Kobrin - August 28 2011 at 13:36
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Earendil Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 28 2011 at 13:50
I can't really help you there, but I look forward to what people have to say.  Great post idea.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ghost_of_morphy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 28 2011 at 13:53
1.  I bought Yes's whole back catalog on 8-track extremely cheap when they were being phased out.  It got to the point where you could pick up an album for 50 cents.
 
2.  Just like now, most stores only stocked things that were from proven groups or  which were well promoted.  If a store had something old or off the beaten path, it was because they couldn't move it.  Groups had smaller back catalogs then.
 
3.  Radio stations were much more varied back then.  I remember a local station that had three hours of pure Beatles programming a week until the mid '70's.  Another specialized in prog (and the DJ loved to play Yes -- The Remembering.)  Programming was done by real people not corporate executives studying statistics.
 
4.  Imports were hard to come by unless you had a store that specialized in them in your area.  That's how I first found Caravan.
 
5.  Genres were very different back then.  Prog (Art Rock was the popular term back then) was limited to things like Yes, Genesis, King Crimson and ELP. Pink Floyd, Rush, Led Zeppelin, Frank Zappa et al., were not considered to bear any relationship to the genre.
 
6.  45's had a lot more weight back then.  Charting a single meant something more than brainwashing a Clearchannel executive.
 
 
 
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote lazland Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 28 2011 at 13:55
Some interesting thoughts - good threadClap

I'm going to have to sign off in a minute, so a couple of very quick thoughts.

Undoubtedly, new technology has made the buying process for the dedicated fan a whole lot easier, and, of course, just to listen via Spotify or Last FM. When I was young in the period we only had Radio 1 or Radio Luxembourg, and after 1974, prog on the radio was a relative rarity, especially after Peel "discovered" punk.

However, one of the sheer pleasures then was to walk into your local record shop, flick through the lovely vinyl covers, and discover some great music, or they would personally order it for you. Such shops are becoming a bit of a rarity these days, and that is a shame.

So, like just about any other era, there was good & bad. I wouldn't change anything for the world, but I will say that I find discovering new music now just as, or even more, exciting as I did then.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dancing Lemming Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 28 2011 at 14:42
It's a disturbing thought that I could have been around when Amon Düül II were beginning, and not ever discover them.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tony R Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 28 2011 at 14:50
It's a rather bizarre notion but in those days people would buy albums based on the cover art. Hence why some cover artists became famous in their own right.

I had problems getting a lot of albums from America and Canada. In those days stuff like Rush, Gentle Giant et al were only available "on import", which basically meant that your local record store would get one or two copies imported from the country of origin and if they had sold out you had to order a copy. That could take two or three to arrive if you were lucky.
For example, the first Rush album released in the UK at the same time as in N.America was A Farewell To Kings, the others weren't officially released here until later, you had to get them imported.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote wandererfromtx Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 28 2011 at 15:09
Originally posted by Tony R Tony R wrote:

It's a rather bizarre notion but in those days people would buy albums based on the cover art. Hence why some cover artists became famous in their own right.


This is true, I remember people buying albums by the cover art alone. The album cover art and the information that accompanied the record were just as important as the music.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote javier0889 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 28 2011 at 15:13
Sometimes I ask my dad (who was 16 in 1973) how it was to live in the same time of all our beloved classic bands. The best way he could find to describe that is laying next to the bass drum, high as a kite, while the band of his best friend at school was playing War Pigs, which happened to be one of the most popular rock songs at that particular time.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TODDLER Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 28 2011 at 15:42
Originally posted by Jake Kobrin Jake Kobrin wrote:

I've been talking with some older guys about what music was like in the 60's and 70's and it's very interesting to me. I really wonder what it'd be like to have lived back then. 
It was a very interesting time, but it was a struggle to obtain British imports because we had no internet. Mail order sources were listed only in selective music magazines and if you couldn't find them in the news agency of your town...then you would have to travel to a big city.
This is what I've heard: 
The first thing is that supposedly the time that a record would spend on the shelves was very limited. As opposed to nowadays where you can go into a record store and find albums that span a bands entire career, it was like by the time Red was released, you couldn't find ITCOTCK in stores anywhere. This was true only to an extent on the east coast. For short periods of time the album was difficult to find. It was re-released a few times with a cheap cover. The original was a hard back cover.  
 
T When it came to obscure albums on less successful labels, it was even more exaggerated. Original albums by bands like Capability Brown (just as a for example) are so rare because their albums were taken off of the shelf only weeks after the album was released, and not stocked in many stores to begin with. And after they'd been removed, it isn't likely that you'd ever hear about the record in the first place, or be able to order it. And the radio was similar. By 1970 you'd never hear a song from Sgt Peppers or something because 3 years was considered "old." There was also a supposed gap in band audiences. The guys that listened to Black Sabbath weren't the same people that listened to The Beatles, for example (though this wasn't true for everyone, I'm sure.)
 
I don't recall this ever happening? Maybe the popularity of the Beatles seemed less due to this new birth of Black Sabbath fans i don't know? During the time of the first Black Sabbath release....I still heard Sgt. Peppers on Philadelphia radio stations. They also played Arthur by the Kinks. In 1970...many kids I knew in high school who bought that first Sabbath album...eventually ended up leaving Sabbath behind for Glitter Rock. After the release of Sabbath Vol. 4  there was less interest in the band. Sabbath picked up a new generation of fans. Kids maybe 3 years younger than me who purchased Sabbath Bloody Sabbath and were not that keen on earlier albums which hailed from my generation of kids. I remember being 15 years old, buying the first Sabbath album and having all my sister's hippie friends inform me that the album was garbage.  

Also I'm pretty sure it was very divided by country, so getting stuff like Amon Duul II in the states would have been very difficult. Amon Duul II was released in the U.S. on United Artists but I could only locate it in cut out bins in department stores. European underground prog music was very difficult to find on the east coast. A guy named Marty who used to sell imports out of the back of his station wagon opened Jem Records in the industrial park in South Plainfield and North Plainfield N.J. You could order from Jem yourself or have the record shops do it. Archie Patterson who was affiliated with Green World on the west coast formed Eurock continued to carry the torch for prog and electronic. Steve F. opened Wayside Music in Maryland which sold the early RIO stuff on LP and obscure prog from various countries. Because these guys were so determined to push prog that was long deleted in the U.S. on domestic labels....it made things a whole lot easier for people like me who were collectors.If you didn't have these particular mail order connections you were in the dark because not all shops did special import ordering.  

I'm pretty sure if I lived back then, I'd end up buying every album I saw that seemed like prog, psych, or heavy music. 

We have it so easy nowadays to be able to get any album we want with barely moving a muscle, and to receive such a huge amount of recommendations when it comes to what we listen to. 

And then not to mention concert tickets. Nowadays we all buy them online, but I think that people rarely bought tickets in advanced except for arena shows and for those arena shows, they had to wait in line for hours and hours to get a good seat. 

Also supposedly people didn't buy actual LPs until well into the 60's. It was very much the norm to listen to 45's.
This seems to a degree very true. If memory serves...people would for example buy a single or 45 rpm THEN they might purchase the album and take a liking to it. 45's were the warm up stage for the customer to become interested in the album. Except for situations where kids would by the Paperback Writer/Rain single and become interested in buying the current Beatles album only to discover that neither one of the songs were featured.

But that's just what I've heard. I wasn't there so I'm not sure. 

If anyone has any stories about what it was like back then, I'd be very interested to hear. 
Back then kids who were fans of yucky Top 40 artists picked up on ELP big time. Also fans of "Hard Rock" such as Sabbath thought highly of ELP because for them it was like attending a great theatrical "Rock Show" I would see underground prog bands like PFM opening for Rory Gallagher. The difference back then was this"......Prog bands from the underground scene were lined up to do shows with mainstream rockers. Nothing was compartmentalized in any sense whatsoever. All the bands were lumped together at concert bookings. There was no specific prog crowd  there to see YES, ELP, or Jethro Tull It was a mixed crowd that added a large population of Hard Rock fans who found certain things about prog that controlled them. Thousands of them bought prog albums, but mostly enjoyed straight up Rock. Kids who bought Machine Head by Deep Purple or Black Sabbath were calling it Hard Rock. The term Heavy Metal had yet to be invented. Most kids in high school age 15 in 1970...that bought the first Sabbath album usually had older brothers and sisters who were hippies. Many of the young Hard Rock fans were introduced to the early King Crimson by them. Music was more handed down during that time. I remember many Americans buying YES albums because they thought their vocals sounded like Crosby, Stills, and Nash. There was that dominet force of harmony vocal in YES which at first ....that seemed to attract the last hippies or the hippie wanna-be culture. Then as time went on people in general formed small groups or crowds in the 70's that followed strictly prog or jazz/fusion. This became full force from the mid to late 70's in music college. Then the attitude changed. This is my music...kind of deal. Why listen to 4 chord rock when we have progressive from European shores?


Edited by TODDLER - August 28 2011 at 15:53
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote wjohnd Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 28 2011 at 15:43
My teens were in the 70s so I can offer my own thoughts...

1. LPs were very expensive compared to disposable income...so I bought very few and listened to them a lot. 
I think that's one of the reasons why I have deeper connection with some of those albums (and also why I  hardly play them now).
2. No internet, no tv shows that showcased 'album' bands (except old grey whistle test and it was a rare treat to be allowed to watch it) hardly any radio play (Tommy Vance on a Friday night) and the press mostly hated prog/classic rock. So sleeves were the best way to tell what was in an album, unless you knew the guy in the record store and could persuade him to put on a track or two.
 I bought Point of Know Return and Van Halen I on the basis of their sleeves.

3. Word of mouth. Cassette tape machines were a new fangled thing. Thank god for older sisters boyfriends, and friends older brothers who  spread the word - so that i discovered Led Zep, Rush, Genesis, Yes, Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd and Deep Purple.

4. It was a bit clannish - Beatles or Stones. Led Zep or the Who, I remember a guy at school being horrified that Live in Leeds was filed under 'rock'.





Edited by wjohnd - August 28 2011 at 15:45
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Manuel Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 28 2011 at 16:55
Originally posted by wandererfromtx wandererfromtx wrote:

Originally posted by Tony R Tony R wrote:

It's a rather bizarre notion but in those days people would buy albums based on the cover art. Hence why some cover artists became famous in their own right.


This is true, I remember people buying albums by the cover art alone. The album cover art and the information that accompanied the record were just as important as the music.

AAAAH!! the good old days, when just looking at the cover would tell you a lot about the music. In Central America in particular, getting anything that's considered prog these days was a real ordeal, what to speak of knowing about the release of a new album by any band or artist, and there were not many people who where into that kind of music. I had a friend who would travel to the US quite often, and I would get him to find me some new albums by Tull, Yes, Genesis, etc. Still just by looking at the cover, you could tell a lot about the record content. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Thkasabrk Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 28 2011 at 17:19
I went through my teens in the 70s. Back then, before the advent of online and satellite radio, FM radio stations would actually play prog rock, and long prog at that. It wasn't unusual to hear a section of Thick as a Brick or Passion Play, or some of the longer Genesis songs. In fact, I remember hearing Dance on a Volcano and Los Endos on one station, and running out to buy Seconds Out at the local Wherehouse in the mall. Ah, those were the days   
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote scandosch Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 28 2011 at 17:31
I'm 50. So I grew up listening to the music of the seventies. I must have been on another planet, because I dont agree with most of what I read hereby, really. Maybe US was another planet then (but I doubt it having seen several films about the era...) but here in Europe the situation was not that!
First of all: in the seventies no TV show, no rock magazine was making choices. The market was! I mean, if a band or artist was selling hard, it was on display everywhere. And that happened because the record companies based band selection on the quality of the concerts, THEN a band was allowed to make records! So the ones who got into a studio were absolute quality bands. Talent selection was the key to every company.
Today record companies just buy finished records, dont take risk, just put on the market everything, hoping that enough people will buy to cover the cost. Back then to record music cost millions.
So as an adolescent I was happy to see every week end a concert of Yes, of Genesis, or Deep Purple, or Styx (you pick) and discover new music. The very same bands came in concert in near cities and venues of HUNDREDS of sitting places, for the price of a record. And the record were not expensive...If you consider the production cost of a vinyl and those of cds, the latter should cost MAX 10 dollars each new, situation reached only in the last 4-5 years.
Was it difficult to get records of less known bands? Maybe, but not impossible. What was really difficult was to get bootlegs, usually japan ones, because illegal and very very expensive.
But the most important thing: not every day you had new records coming out. So when a band was publishing a new LP it was an event. I remember many many evening spent with friends in my tiny room listening to the new Banco, tha last Santana or the magical double (DOUBLE) album of Genesis. So a record was playing for months, not days like today. This is probably the worst limit of Prog Archives: lack of historical sight.
But hey, music is just music, so a matter of taste. Personally, having become a musician myself, I recall with the same pathos the first time I heard "Burn" , "Foxtrot", "Aqualung", "Atom heart mother", but also the first Asia, the first Dream Theater, not to mention when I saw at cinema show "The song remains the same" or singing all togheter Red on the beach with my girlfriend, and all other listening. I was lucky. 71 to 76 was the best music period ever for rock, and back then rack was only rock, against jazz, classic and country (for old people...)

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Earendil Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 28 2011 at 18:08
What I'm getting here is that people were much more open-minded musically back then.  I'm sure not everyone listened to Red on the beach, but today if you play the modern equivalent of that, people would freak out.  Part of the problem is that I live in Indiana (not exactly a liberal state), but I've never actually met anyone that likes "weirder" music than I do, or even close to the variety I like.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Atavachron Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 28 2011 at 18:53
it was pretty much like it is now, just with better music and the constant threat of nuclear annihilation ..

it is true that many records - and a lot of other things - simply weren't available, and there was no medium by which to locate them other than going to the source








Edited by Atavachron - August 28 2011 at 18:55
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote jammun Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 28 2011 at 19:29
Funny, I agree with the idea that we'd buy an album based strictly on it's cover.  Found a lot of great (and not so great) music that way.  The great stuff included that first KC album.  When I was a senior in high school I remember going to a record store (they had those back then) and buying The Yes Album for no other reason than the cover.  Once I heard the music, well it was all over.  I'd buy albums just because someone said they were good, which is how I came to know The Nice, so of course I'd pick up that first ELP album.  I lived in a small town in Wyoming; we had to drive to Boulder, CO to get imports.  We generally bought some other stuff (music enhancement herbs...) while we were there.  It was a different time...I was young and very foolish.  But I knew good music when it hit me in the head.   
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TODDLER Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 28 2011 at 19:59

In the 70's kids who studied classical piano and were from Philadelphia or N.Y. .....and how Julliard of me to say this....were serious minded and devoted to the max. Many of them studied with teachers in the Philadelphia area who were high priced and had played with Orchestras. The kids I'm making reference to were teens in the 70's and Keith Emerson was really huge at that time. I can't possibly recall how many bands I played in ..but many I did and these keyboardists would show for auditions setting up a rack of keyboards like the rig of Emerson. Many of them had mastered Tarkus. Imagine growing up around the world of musicians. College musicians, studio players,etc and watching them take on the role of prog was mind blowing to me.

Eventually musicians from the New England states and borderline Canada down to Florida were mastering prog and performing it live making solid bucks. I was making a thousand dollars a week and sometimes less....but 6 nights a week up and down the east coast playing prog. It was insane and is unheard of today. Although today we have prog tribute bands and I don't know too much about their financial status. But in the 70's to be making that much money playing music which is today for most people unknown? I really miss doing that. It's another lifetime.
 
Most musicians eventually became aware of the underground prog scene in Europe. American musicians began buying Van Der Graff Generator, Goblin. Gong, Vangelis, Steve Hillage, National Health,...Oh God....the underground prog was played on WXPN out of Philadelphia. Those were great times! Jade Warrior's Island period was even praised. Not just musicians because there is no sense in being big-headed about the reality. People in the world were interested in this prog movement because NO.1...they had just survived the 60's and that decade had expressed to everyone that it was possible to play what would be defined as progressive elements in music. This is back when Top 40 hit bands like Lovin' Spoonful were adding strange progressive hooks in their music. And so by the 70's it had become a full composition in musical approach. No.2....people in the world then were conditioned to appreciate musicianship in music. They wanted to hear and know the musician's abilities even if it were present in hit songs. You could never re-live that because of it's magnitude. It's source and all the thousands of people making effort to reach out to it, purchase the records, live and breath it just almost like the musicians themselves. Think about it? How could that environment ever develop and reach that plateau again?  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote cstack3 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 28 2011 at 20:49
GREAT thread!  My story:

I'm 56, so I was about 13 in 1969 in the Chicago, IL area of USA.  I always hung out with older kids & their formative rock bands, so I had early exposure to the music of a lot of bands including the Who, Sabbath, Yes,Tull, Wishbone Ash, etc. Lots of music going on in my neighborhood!  I started on bass when I was about 12.   The biggest band in our area when I was getting into rock was Alice Cooper (just listened to a bunch recently, amazing how great the production was on LPs like "Killer" and "School's Out!!")  

 Prog was everywhere on the AM radio band...."Fragile," "ITCOTCK," "Hocus Pocus," "From the Beginning", "Small Beginnings" etc. were all huge radio hits.  FM radio had even more.  

Chicago was a regional music capital ("home of the blues" you know), so we had many record stores that catered to imports, jazz and avant garde music.  I had no trouble getting my hands on the whole KC catalog when I was about 16 years old, and my musician buddies turned me onto "Poseidan," "Cirkus" etc.   I owned Amon Duul's "Wolf City" in 1972, the year it came out, and it was an American release.  

Chicago also had a rather amazing "underground" radio scene, and the undisputed leader was Triad Radio.  They have a fascinating website, see http://pages.ripco.net/~saxmania/triad.html

In retrospect, I'm very glad to have lived here during those years!  The first band I ever saw live was Captain Beyond, who backed up Alice Cooper on the "School's Out" tour,  July 28, 1972.    Chicago was known as the "space-rock capital of the world" for a while, with local synth bands & regular visits by the Germans.    Virtually everybody toured through Chicago...I saw amazing shows by LTIA era KC, CTTE era Yes, etc. etc.  

Wish I could convert my memories into video!  The hippies in downtown Chicago selling underground newspapers, the head shops selling hash pipes, the record stores, the bra-less chicks!!  Loved it!  


Edited by cstack3 - August 28 2011 at 20:52
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Atavachron Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 28 2011 at 20:57
Originally posted by cstack3 cstack3 wrote:


Wish I could convert my memories into video!  The hippies in downtown Chicago selling underground newspapers, the head shops selling hash pipes, the record stores, the bra-less chicks!!  Loved it!  

come to S.F., that's daily life  (well there are also bra-less men, but that's another story)

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Jake Kobrin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 28 2011 at 21:08
Originally posted by Atavachron Atavachron wrote:

Originally posted by cstack3 cstack3 wrote:


Wish I could convert my memories into video!  The hippies in downtown Chicago selling underground newspapers, the head shops selling hash pipes, the record stores, the bra-less chicks!!  Loved it!  

come to S.F., that's daily life  (well there are also bra-less men, but that's another story)


Yes exactly. Record stores and headshops galore!
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