Monday, March 5, 2012

From Cavett to Cambridge

Dick Cavett has been aiding my transition back to my daily Cambridge routine.  As odd as that statement sounds, it is altogether true.  The Dick Cavett Show, which aired on ABC television from 1968 to 1975, brought his intelligent blond-haired humor to the small screen, joined with his many guests of the culture of that time, including many rock legends. On YouTube one can find an August 19, 1969 show in which the Jefferson Airplane, Joni Mitchell, Stephen Stills and David Crosby stop by the studio on their return from Woodstock.  The music and the banter are fascinating and Cavett, who looks as if he's trying too hard to be cool, holds his own in talking to these sometimes inexpressive youth.  Of the group, Joni Mitchell in particular stands out for her beauty coupled with her beautifully expressive voice, her odd intonations and her invitingly honest story lines.

Also on YouTube is a Cavett-hosted 1971 debate between 27-year-old Vietnam veteran John Kerry, and 25-year-old veteran John O'Neill who was put up by the Nixon administration to undermine Kerry's anti-war voice.  War presents similar problems across generations, but Kerry utters his famous line that no one wants to be the last man to die for a mistake, a point that both veterans implicitly agree on as the end of the Vietnam war finally seems in sight. Cavett's closing question to both participants is "Do you feel that you've been treated fairly" in the back-and-forth?  Both said yes, and both were.  The war wasn't to end for another four years. 

John Lennon and Yoko Ono visit Cavett on set in 1971, as does George Harrison.   Jimi Hendrix does the same the year prior.  If it's an era that holds any interest for you, it's worth seeing all of these people when they were young and defining a culture that was to dominate American consciousness for a generation and more.  Why I am visiting those years I am not as sure.