Since I was ten, the song, “San Francisco” has been a constant companion, both in my mind and whatever way I found to physically replay it. Ask either of my children, and they can sing the song to you. The song, although written by John Phillips of Mamas and Papas fame, is still, in every way, Scott McKenzie’s song. It is also our song; yours and mine.
“San Francisco” embodies an ideal. For many, it may be an outdated song. Good for its time but something not relevant to the age in which we now find ourselves. For others, the song is rich in a thought that, sadly, crosses few minds anymore. For the rest of us, it’s still an anthem. It still contains a hope.
The singer of that song, Scott McKenzie, is forever entwined in it. However, on August 18, the voice of “San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Flowers In Your Hair)” left the earth at the young age of 73, after an extended affliction with GBS, a rare paralytic disease that can affect respiratory function. While his death reminds us of our own mortality, his song (and yes, it is his song) reminds us of our capabilities.
Peace amongst ourselves and throughout the world increasingly seems like an impossibilty. And it may well be beyond our grasp. But MacKenzie’s beautiful and involving version of “San Francisco” serves as a very real reminder that at least one generation believed in the peace he sang about, and the generation coming up behind that one was, at least, influenced by it.
Many of us will miss the singer of the song. He made us believe in peace. And gentle people with flowers in their hair.