These words were sung by the cast of HAIR in 1969, a year marked by Altamont and the inauguration of Richard M Nixon.
Aquarius swiftly became an unattainable dream state for the hippies, unless you were high of LSD and millions of us dropped acid to touch the sky.
On the Fourth of July 1971 my friends John Gilmour, Tommy Jordan, Mark McLaughin and I celebrated psychedelic holiday in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. We were driving down from Montreal after scoring LSD from a French-Canadian hash dealer. The backroads were safer and I drove my VW Beetle through the Green Mountains to cross the Connecticut River into New Hampshire.
We were 18 and the Rolling Stones’ BROWN SUGAR was #1 on the radio, but we were listening to the Jefferson Airplane’s AFTER BATHING AT BAXTER’S.
It was good for our heads, for the four of us dropped the acid in Berlin and the Orange Sunshine peaked on the road up to Mount Washington. Tuckerman’s Ravine gleamed with the snow under the peerless blue sky.
I parked the Bug by the Saco River. We wandered in a daze and heard the mountain stream rushing over glacial rocks to speak a primordial language. Our teenage ears listened to its teachings and we obeyed the command to submerge our bodies in the torrent’s lecture. Our communion with LSD immuned our flesh from the frigid winter melt. Time melted faster than butter in the sun.
“Speak, river, speak.” John was all ears.
John Gilmour elbowed me.
The boy looked harmless.
“What you want, kid?” John was a stickler for keeping crowds small while on LSD.
” Why are you were sitting in the water?
“To hear it speak.” Tommie answered without hesitation. He was the most spiritual of us. Tommie was a high school hockey star. On ice his skating was almost holy.
The eleven year-old stuck a finger in the river.
“I don’t near nothing but the water.”
We cocked our ears to the current.
The boy in the shorts was right. It was only water.
“And it’s cold.”
“Yes, it is cold.”
We stood up with goose-bumped skin. The release from the river was a rush.
“Come out of the river.” The young boy motioned for us to come to him.
“Whatever you say.” Tommie Jordan chattered through this teeth.
Mark’s skin was death white and I shivered like I had been pulled from the Atlantic after the sinking of the Titanic. The four of us looked at each other. This boy had saved us from hypothermia. His coming here was no accident.
“It’s Jesus.” John whispered with his retinae gapping open to 11.
“Jesus.” I might have been a non-believer, but I flashed on the 12 year-old Messiah in the Temple. The boy was about his age.
Before we could pose the right questions, a teenage girl in a tube top hurried from the underbrush. Her hot pants hung off her skinny ass.
“Jay Jay, get over here.”
“I wasn’t doing nothing.”
“What I tell you about speaking to strangers.” She grabbed out for her brother.
“I wanted to know why they were sitting in the river.” Our prophet attempted to escape her clutches.
“Why? Because they’re stupid hippies.”
“Stupid hippies.” I felt enlgihtened.
“Fucked up on LSD too.” She seized Jay Jay by the ear and our ‘Jesus’ squealed in defeat, as she dragged her brother back to the main road.
“Don’t take him away.” John scrambled over the glacial rocks.
“Let him go.” Mark sat in the water.
“He’s just a kid we thought was Jesus. Listen.”
The river had resumed its music. Its song were never played on the radio. We sang its lyrics until our throats were parched dry as the summer grass. Drinking the river was a sacrament and we came down under the pine trees. The moon floated a universe of nova stars. It was a good trip.
LSD fell out of favor in the 70s. The drug was too heavy for the times and the police hunted down the dealers. The lack of quality guaranteed bad trips, which was exactly what the Law wanted to suppress such a powerful medicine, although most recently the psychedelic and ‘shrooms’ has been reborn to combat depression and addiction as well as opening the doors of perception.
Experimenters are intrigued by the hallucinogen’s effects on the human brain to experience revelations, especially with the long-term influence on the taker’s sense of well-being. Federal officials have approved further research into psychedelics, but are very careful to skirt the outrage of the Right, for they feel the only real epiphanies come from contact with god and even an atheist like myself know how that is on LSD.
Especially while listening to the Jefferson Airplane’s AFTER BATHING AT BAXTER’S.
HAVE A GREAT 4TH OF JULY
To hear that LP please go to the following URL