Sunday, April 17, 2011

"Let's Go To San Francisco" (The Flowerpot Men)

Let’s go to San Francisco/where the flowers grow so very high/sunshine in San Francisco/makes your mind grow up to the sky/lots of sun-sun-sunny people/walking hand in hand/they’re not funny people/they have found their land…/let’s go to San Francisco/let the wind blow through your hair/go down to San Francisco/see the love grow on people there/let’s go, let’s go discover it/let‘s go, let‘s go discover it…’

When I started this blog, as advertised above, I was conscious about not picking obvious S.F.-related tunes…so, no blissed-out songs from olden days about wearing flowers in the hair, patchouli on your eyelids etc. However, the subject of this episode came out around the same time as Mr. McKenzie’s faded gem, yet has never achieved the ubiquity his paean to hippie-era S.F. did (at least on this side of the Atlantic). And so, since the ultimate purpose of this blog to bring to light locally themed songs that have escaped notice, we present UK one-hit wonders from 1967, The Flowerpot Men.

Basically the studio conception of Denmark Street denizens John Carter and Ken Lewis, the Flowerpot Men included future members of Deep Purple, while the lead vocalist was one Tony Burrows. Burrows would go on to a career of fronting other pre-fab Bubblegum pop hitmakers, most notably Edison Lighthouse and White Plains. Burrows also did the honors on a later Carter/Lewis creation, First Class’ similarly B. Wilsonesque “Beach Baby” from 1974.

To anyone in an unreceptive mood, the song’s Beach Boys-meets-Anglican-boys’-choir ambiance might come off as saccharine and dated. Certainly what Carter and Lewis were selling to British pop fans was as much a fantasy as McKenzie’s vision of West Coast runaway Eden (or any Spielberg or Lucas flick for that matter).

And yet: there’s a sense of joy and optimism in this song that speaks to what has drawn people of all stripes and levels of social isolation here for so many years. Such folks were coming here before Hippie, and continued to after that cultural vibe had dissolved. With any luck, similar minds always will.