almost cut my hair

At Harvey’s Barber Shop there was one of those posters of the cuts you could get.  I think it was this one, showing multiple Contour styles, a couple of Booggies, and even a Hollywood, each showing a little bit of styling, of a sort.  But the go-to ones for most kids and teens were the Crew, the Butch, and the Flattop.

Another poster that can be found online shows a few other styles, but what I most like about it is the word “official” to describe those hair styles for men and boys.  But times change, and what was official fades away.

It is said that the day after the Beatles played on The Ed Sullivan Show in February 1964, the lavatories of high schools were jammed with boys trying to comb the little hair they had down onto their foreheads.  The cultural shift was just beginning.

By the time Hair opened Off-Broadway in 1967 (it moved to Broadway the following year), the Summer of Love had happened and the press was full of stories about hippies and the counterculture.  The hair kept growing longer and longer.

The songs from the musical were soon adapted by other artists and became Top 40 hits, including “Hair” (The Cowsills), “Easy To Be Hard” (Three Dog Night), “Good Morning Starshine” (Oliver), and the sublime combination of “Aquarius” and “Let The Sunshine In” (The 5th Dimension).

The lyrics of the the title song were a full-throated celebration of long locks:

Gimme a head with hair
Long beautiful hair
Shining, gleaming,
Streaming, flaxen, waxen
Give me down to there, hair
Shoulder length or longer, hair
Here baby, there mama
Everywhere daddy, daddy
Hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair

Flow it, show it
Long as God can grow it
My hair

And begged some questions:

My hair like Jesus wore it
Hallelujah, I adore it
Hallelujah, Mary loved her son
Why don’t my mother love me?

In 1970, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young recorded a song, “Almost Cut My Hair,” which captured the cultural zeitgeist:

Almost cut my hair
It happened just the other day
It was gettin’ kinda long
I could-a said, it was in my way
But I didn’t and I wonder why
I feel like letting my freak flag fly
And I feel like I owe it to someone

Back in the hometown, you could see the migration of longer hair from the wilder sorts to almost everyone.  The members of the Luverne basketball team were an exception, since they were required to have their hair closely cropped.  But even that had loosened up by 1973, and in the graduation pictures of the guys in my class, there wasn’t a Crew or Butch or Flattop to be seen.  Almost everyone had long hair of some sort, often covering their ears completely, and no one had truly short hair.  Not one.

In case you’re wondering why I bring this up, I haven’t gotten my hair cut since last February.  I’ve decided to mostly sit the pandemic out, and letting my hair grow has been one of the side effects.  It’s now longer than it ever has been (and that’s saying something).

When a client first saw me at the start of a Zoom call, he was startled, and said that I looked “like a nineteenth-century poet.”  And that was probably four months ago.  He should see me now.

The wavy curl of the old days is mostly gone and the color has changed, but if I look closely I can spy the young man underneath the hair.  Speaking of poetry, I thought maybe I would be inspired to write some for the first time since my hair was cut off decades ago, but, alas, that hasn’t happened.  (Probably a good thing.  The world doesn’t need more bad poetry.)

I signed up for the vaccine lottery the other day, but my name wasn’t drawn.  Just as well; I don’t think I’m ready to cut my hair.  I’m letting my freak flag fly for now.

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