When I first heard Scott McKenzie’s “San Francisco,” I was 13 and desperate to be groovy -- a status not readily attainable amid the rustic rolling hills of western Massachusetts.
But even via the tiny, tinny speaker of my precious transistor radio, the mod and moody voice of McKenzie (who died Saturday) seemed to promise the possibility. And well before the tune supposedly became the "soundtrack of a generation," as the obituaries would have it, "San Francisco" was the anthem of my eighth-grade graduation party, at which at least one couple smooched in the corner -- just like hippies!
Of course we all know by now that the "gentle people with flowers in their hair" about whom John Phillips wrote, and McKenzie sang, were as much a fantasy as my adolescent yearnings. He never had another hit, unless you count the Beach Boys' "Kokomo," which he co-wrote, and upon his death at 73 he left no immediate survivors.
But fans are expressing their gratitude online. And for the lovely, hopelessly romantic song he gave us -- gave me -- I say thank you as well.