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Soundtrack to Intentional Living


Music is the "aspect of material culture perhaps more closely associated with hippie life than any other." Music of the late 1960s and early 1970s was often called the voice of the counterculture. Musicians and their audience found common ground in a disillusionment with traditional society, a focus on drugs as a conduit of mental and spiritual expansion, and a desire to transform traditional societal rules for living. Within communes, music was always a major part of life. They reaffirmed their values through their music, their chanting and their group dances. Alternative arts, folk music and psychadelic rock all expressed their view of the world. A common example of this expressio comes from the band The Grateful Dead and their somewhat complex discography. Aoxaomoxoa (ox-oh-mox-oh-a) is a 1969 album by The Grateful Dead. The band and the album were considered pillars of the counterculture. This album in particular referenced many elements of hippie life including drugs, community, and living on the outside of traditional culture. The back cover of the album depicted the short-lived intentional community at Rancho Olompali known as The Chosen Family experiment. Although the community was short lived, many musicians traveled through and performed, including The Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin. 

Despite having a distinct voice for their movement, even the most adamant of hippies showed appreciation for more traditional musical forms than has often been expected. In many ways, mainstream music was able to be separated from mainstream society as a whole. The same community that became home to The Grateful Dead housed albums ranging from classical and jazz to broadway and comedy. This discovery opened up new understandings of life on the commune. Not only was it more varied than anticipated, but it was also perhaps more appreciative of certain aspects of traditional society. This could have had great repercussions for alleviating some tensions between the revolutionary hippie way and the old structured life.