‘Hair’ today ain’t what it used to be

Father's Daze

Once again last week I learned that what’s nostalgia or memories for me is history for many other.

That’s really just a roundabout way of saying that I’m old, but it seems a lot gentler.

This time, it took a Broadway musical to bring the lesson home.

Terry and I went to see “Hair” last week and were carried back to the days of our youth.

I was going to say we took a trip back to our youthful days, but that would be a little too obvious.

Actually, neither one of us were hippies in the Sixties, belonged to a commune or ran around naked — on stage, in Central Park or anywhere else — but we did grow up listening to the music and watching all those events on television.

And yes, I did have hair at one point in my life — all the way down to my shoulders, in fact. The only way I could have hair like that these days would be with a wig or Rogaine — lots of Rogaine, industrial strength.

I was going to get out my tie-dyed shirt, bell-bottom paisley pants and Nehru jacket to wear to the show — and yes, I did once have all of those.

Unfortunately, they all seem to have shrunk over the past four decades or so, since none of them fit me anymore.

I did see some clothes on stage that looked vaguely familiar to me — I think I remember a few of those shirts being in my closet many, many years ago. But they probably didn’t look that cool on me back then.

Even though I haven’t listened to my original cast album of “Hair” in years — and that’s the original Broadway cast album, not the later movie version, I might add — the songs all came back to me as the show unfolded.

I did manage to restrain myself and not start singing along with them — I didn’t need an entire theater full of angry people turning on me if I did.

But it did occur to me that a lot of the songs don’t quite have the same meaning or impact as they did back in the Summer of Love — or whatever summer that was when I first heard them.

For instance, the line “Give me a head with hair” was a statement back then — today it’s just a distant memory or a futile wish.

And we’ve long since passed the “Dawning of the Age of Aquarius.” Now, it’s more like the “Dawning of the Age of Retirement.”

For most of us, a “Be-in” is no longer a major event — just still “being” is an accomplishment some days.

And these days, it’s not easy to be much of anything, let alone “Easy to be Hard” — with or without prescription pharmaceuticals.

The vast majority of the audience was in the same boat as we were — sadly realizing that most of the cast members glibly portraying our halcyon days were young enough to be our children, or in some cases our grandchildren.

I do have to admit that I missed what was perhaps the most controversial part of “Hair” back when it first debuted on Broadway.

At the end of the first act, while one of the lead actors is singing, the rest of the cast is at a be-in in Central Park and all disrobe as part of the protest.

The singer was at the front of the stage, in spotlight, while the rest of the cast was at the back of the stage doing their thing. I confess that I was busy watching the singer and missed the stage rear nudity until I looked up at the end of the song and saw the last two butt-naked guys running off stage.

That was it, a few minutes of nudity — and Terry, who was paying more attention, told me most of the cast was wearing body suits. Hard to believe nowadays that it caused that much controversy back in the day.

Then again, it’s hard to believe that, back in the day, I had hair and wore bell-bottoms and Nehru jackets.

The times, they are indeed a-changin’ — no wait a minute, that was another show.


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