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    Fun Size Trending Topics September 23, 2021. His Name? St. Dangerous Of Course CD929

For “Song History Saturday” we take a song each week and break down some of the details about the writing, recording, and sometimes the legacy of the song.

On this day in 1967, “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair)” by Scott McKenzie peaked at #4 on the U.S. charts. The song was released to promote the Monterey Pop Festival, a concert that launched many careers and became a huge part of the 1967 “Summer of Love.”

In early 1967, Michael Bowen organized the Human Be-In at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, an event partly in protest of the recently-enacted California law banning LSD. The event was all about communal living, ecological awareness, personal empowerment, and “higher consciousness.” The Human Be-In brought many non-conformists to the Haight-Ashbury area of San Francisco, and some of them stayed. During spring break 1967, groups of college students made pilgrimages to San Francisco, some of them following Timothy Leary’s advice and “dropping out.” Residents of San Francisco created the Council for the Summer of Love, coining the term that would eventually be applied to the worldwide summer of 1967.

Before the term “Summer of Love” was even coined, folks were already planning pop festivals to entertain the crowds of hippies flocking to the Bay Area. That portion of California had already proven a successful music festival hub with the Monterey Jazz Festival and the Big Sur Folk Festival both having been popular over the years. The Beatles publicist Derek Taylor, producer Lou Adler, and Alan Pariser conceived the Monterey Pop Festival. John Phillips of The Mamas and the Papas later took over some of the planning. 

Officials in Monterey who had already seen some of the results of the counterculture movement that created the need for the Counsel for the Summer of Love began to grow weary of the upcoming pop festival. Phillips sought to convince them that it would be a beautiful and positive event by penning an easygoing song about the beauty of the city. Phillips later stated that he wrote the song in twenty minutes. 

Prior to The Mamas and the Papas, John Phillips was part of a three-piece called The Journeymen with Scott McKenzie, who he recruited to sing “San Francisco.” Adler and Phillips produced the song and it was released just over a month before the festival it was created for. It was met with success almost immediately. Even outside of the festival, it convinced more folks to travel to the Bay Area not just for the festival but for the environment described in the song. It still serves as an anthem for San Francisco, the hippie movement, and the Summer of Love. Phillips and McKenzie were able to perfectly capture the feeling of the moment.

While “San Francisco” peaked at #4 in the U.S. on this day in history, it actually faired better in other countries. In Canada and Australia, the song went to #2, but it went to #1 in nine countries including The U.K., Germany, Austria, and Finland. In The U.K., the title holds the record for the longest name of a #1 single. 

“San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair)” has quite the legacy. It’s appeared in multiple films about the ‘60s, most notably Forrest Gump. Scott McKenzie’s legacy is a little different. As an artist, his second biggest single didn’t make it into the top twenty. However as a songwriter, he wrote a song (“What About Me”) that helped launch Anne Murray’s career in Canada. His biggest chart success in the U.S. was a song he co-wrote with John Phillips, producer Terry Melcher, and Mike Love, namely The Beach Boys’ “Kokomo,” which went all the way to #1.

This day in 1967 would have been just about a week after the festival, where many people heard McKenzie perform it live on Sunday night. Maybe those folks wanted to relive the moment, or maybe the larger world just wanted to capture a moment in time. Whatever the case, “San Francisco” was released at exactly the right moment to be one of the most important songs of the 1960s.


-Just Emma (


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Written by: Emma Sedam

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