If you did it right, today would have gone something like this:

Wake up late, still a little high from Otis Redding’s triumphant performance of the night before. Have brunch while reading the Sunday New York Times, which includes Richard Goldstein’s review of the new Beatles album…which is not, at this point, all that new. True, it’s only been out since June 1, but those 17 days seem like a lifetime.

Goldstein’s review is not entirely complimentary.

Like an over-attended child “Sergeant Pepper” is spoiled. It reeks of horns and harps, harmonica quartets, assorted animal noises and a 41-piece orchestra….

The obsession with production, coupled with a surprising shoddiness in composition, permeates the entire album. There is nothing beautiful on “Sergeant Pepper.” Nothing is real and there is nothing to get hung about.

Though he is very positive about “A Day in the Life”:

 “A Day in the Life” is such a radical departure from the spirit of the album that it almost deserves its peninsular position (following the reprise of the “Sergeant Pepper” theme, it comes almost as an afterthought). It has nothing to do with posturing or put-on. It is a deadly earnest excursion in emotive music with a chilling lyric. Its orchestration is dissonant but sparse, and its mood is not whimsical nostalgia but irony.

With it, the Beatles have produced a glimpse of modern city life, that is terrifying. It stands as one of the most important Lennon-McCartney compositions, and it is a historic Pop event.

He concludes:

What a shame that “A Day in the Life” is only a coda to an otherwise undistinguished collection of work. We need the Beatles, not as cloistered composers, but as companions. And they need us. In substituting the studio conservatory for an audience, they have ceased being folk artists, and the change is what makes their new album a monologue.

Goldstein has now been vilified for this review for half a century, and he has backed away from it in recent years, saying that his stereo was broken when he wrote it. (Really.) But I find it rather refreshing to read this dissenting viewpoint, which was ahead of its time in pointing out that Sgt. Pepper is overrated. I myself have said as much on several occasions, and I’ll say it again: Sgt. Pepper is overrated. That doesn’t mean it isn’t great, but still….

Anyway, in the early afternoon you’d roll on over to the fairgrounds, where Ravi Shankar would be getting the day’s proceedings underway with some extended raga or other. You might, perhaps, take a little something; that wouldn’t be necessary to have a good day, but probably wouldn’t hurt either.

Shankar would be followed by the Blues Project and then Big Brother and the Holding Company, for some reason the only act to play both Saturday and Sunday. After that you’d see something called the “Group with No Name”; I know nothing about them except that the Wikipedia link directs you to a page for one Cyrus Faryar (born February 26, 1936; “an American folk musician, songwriter, and record producer”).

Next up would be a version of Buffalo Springfield without Neil Young but with special guest David Crosby, then a little-known band from England called the Who.

Not bad, right? But the Who’s ritual smashing of the instruments would not, strangely enough, be the climax of the night. There were still four more acts to go. One of them was the Grateful Dead.

And, again, dayenu, right? It would have been enough. But then this happened:

I’ve already written at length about Jimi’s performance, which concluded with a performance of “Wild Thing” — or as he called it, “the English and American combined anthem” — followed by the legendary guitar burning. There’s not a whole lot more to say; if for some tragic reason you haven’t seen it, for cripes sake go remedy that right this instant. Only bits of it, unfortunately, are on YouTube (the Hendrix estate guards its copyrights rabidly); for the whole thing you need to seek out the feature film Jimi Plays Monterey.

I imagine you’d be sitting there trying to cope with a blown mind after that, but still the show would not be over. You’d probably feel bad for Scott McKenzie (real name: Philip Wallace Blondheim III), the one-hit wonder of “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)” fame, who drew the unfortunate assignment of following Hendrix. His performance is not much spoken of today, nor is that of the Mamas and The Papas, who would finally bring the festival to an end.

I bet you’d sleep pretty well that night.

By the by, June 18, 1967, was Paul McCartney’s 25th birthday. That makes today, June 18, 2017, his 75th. Happy birthday, Paul, and happy Father’s Day, and happy everything to everybody. We can’t go back to Monterey but we can do today right, at least. Time to get started.

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