It's phenomenal how many songs have been written about San Francisco. “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding, “Lights” by Journey, “California on my mind” by Wildlights and the Tony Bennet classic, “I left my heart in San Fransisco.” My personal favorite might be the self-titled “San Fransisco” cover by the Mamas and the Papas.
Not only has the city inspired many songwriters but it has also been the inspiration for dozens of iconic bands such as The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, Fleetwood Mac, Carlos Santana, Sly and the Family Stone, and the punk-rock group, Dead Kennedys.
Something about this quirky city calls to the artistic, creative, misfits of the world. It is a city who welcomes weird and different ideas, spins them around with magic pixie dust and controversy and spits them back out into the world as a picture of innovation and originality. That is the version of San Fransisco that made me so desperately want to visit its interior.
In fact, I've often wondered how different I would be if I lived in a different city or was raised closer to the coast. Would I be more comfortable with my creative energy? Would I be less ashamed of my resistance to conventionalism? Or perhaps I might be the exact same.
While it's easy for me to get caught up in daydreaming about beautiful places to relocate, I have to remember the here and now. Now I am here, and that's all I have to work with. Becoming myself is 100% up to me, no matter where in the world I am. Still, I rather enjoyed visiting San Fransisco for the weekend.
I spent six weeks reading “Season of the Witch” by David Talbot. The thick paperback is full of San Fransisco history, beginning with my all-time favorite story setting -- The Summer of Love.
Talbot begins in 1967 by telling all the beautiful and wonderfully unique characteristics that makes San Fransisco a mecca for the epically unusual. Dozens of pages are filled with stories of the bands who became brands, the personalities who shaped the hippie generation and the city's places where these stories took place.
The second section of the book tells the devastating truth about the effects of the Summer of Love. In equal amounts of love, freedom and unity came violence, division and hate. It is through these stories that we learn all of the hardships San Fransisco has had to endure to get to where it is now. Diversity is no easy thing, no matter how spectacular the setting is.
At last, the book's final section covers the resurrection of the town and how it settled back in to its amazing potential by generating a winning (and amazingly diverse) football team, supporting its first female mayor and working together to keep the peace amongst its citizens.
All of this historical knowledge has built over the years as I have constantly turned to San Fransisco as an answer to the greatest youth movement of all times. For these reasons I was able to truly appreciate the city by the Bay. Like many of the creatives who call it home, the city itself has gone through multiple back-bending transformations that have seemed difficult, if not impossible at times. The unique atmosphere wasn't born over night, it was hard work and lots of cooperation that got it where it is today. Couldn't we all learn a lesson from this example?
<< This is the book I referenced above. If you or someone you know (gift idea!) are looking at going to San Fransisco, or simply want to learn more about this history of the city, I highly recommend ordering a copy of this bad boy.
You won't regret it!