A Message from Scott

Scott, 2008
Scott, 2008

Welcome to all of you. I hope you will enjoy the web page that my dear friends Gary and Raylene Hartman have so lovingly built and provided for any one who happens to drop by.

When San Francisco was first released in the spring of 1967 my country was in chaos. Already reeling from political assassinations, we were bitterly divided over the escalating war in Viet Nam and hemorrhaging from acts of hatred and violence, many of which were in reaction to nonviolent civil rights demonstrations and protests.

At the same time, in eastern Europe, especially East Germany, people lived in terror of surprise midnight visits from secret police who would break down their doors and cart them off to "mind prisons". And for what offenses? Among others, for listening to decadent subversive western music, especially "San Francisco".

When I performed in the former East Germany in 1991 a group of people took me to one of these prisons. As they led me through the deserted cells and "interrogation rooms" I shuddered. At one point we all hung our heads and wept. Just up the still unpaved road was a brand new hotel with a bar, where we ended up toasting freedom and loudly singing "San Francisco". I shall never forget that visit.

In 1987 when I performed in Sao Paulo, Brazil another group of people took me to a room where they had once met regularly in secret to light a candle and whisper of freedom, as they listened to "San Francisco". Neither shall I ever forget that visit.

I am amazed at how "San Francisco" continues even now to evoke dreams in the hearts and minds of people all over the world. Though many of these people were alive when the record was first released, an increasing number of them were not even born then. Yet the same simple song touches them too.

Were "those wonderful times" really wonderful? They certainly did inspire wonder, that's for sure. I guess it depends on where you were, what you were doing, what you cared about. On the one hand, bigots, tyrants and oppression flourished; national leaders were assassinated, young artists overdosed. On the other hand, new young social, political and musical leaders also flourished, as did their calls for courage, compassion and commitment to social and political reform.

One thing is certain: the new pop music that emerged from those times was indeed wonderful. Never before or since, with the exception of rap, has popular music contained such sheer poetic and social power. Even at the end of the decade, when so many of us had lost hope, when the summer of love had turned into a winter of despair, our music helped keep us alive and carry us forward into a world we had hoped to change.

And so it still does.

Scott McKenzie
August 2002