THE GREATEST SONGS OF THE 1960s THAT NO ONE HAS EVER HEARD
666) Charles Manson — “Cease to Exist”
Yes, that Charles Manson. A song which does full justice to the moniker “acid folk”. Even more intriguing than the song is Manson’s relationship with the Beach Boys’ Dennis Wilson, who transformed it into 20/20′s “Never Learn Not to Love” and who never recovered from the psychic scars of his close encounter with “the Wizard”.
Lauren Bronston writes that:
In 1966, a 33-year-old Manson was discharged from prison and jumped right into the Summer of Love. He lived in the Haight-Ashbury area of San Francisco where he’d begun to cultivate his family of loyalists who would later become part of the Manson family. At the end of 1966, Manson insisted on moving to Los Angeles to start his music career . . . .https://www.lethalamounts.com/magazine-index/2021/7/22/how-a-charles-manson-song-snuck-onto-a-beach-boys-album?format=amp
Charles Manson’s . . . [album LIE] and released . . . in 1970 while the Tate/La Bianca murders and subsequent Manson Family trials were still headline news. The album cover is an altered version of Manson’s likeness as it appeared on the cover of Life Magazine on December 19, 1969. On the record jacket the “F” has been removed, transforming “LIFE” into “LIE” in graphic denial of Manson’s guilt. . . . The mass media’s portrayal of Manson as the archetypal homicidal freak . . . permanently tarnished the common perception of ’60s counterculture . . . . Composer John Moran . . . has stated that “Until the murders, psychedelia had been associated with the idea of love. After Manson, and because of the way the media portrayed him, psychedelia became associated with flipping out and violence and fear.”https://www.allmusic.com/album/lie-the-love-and-terror-cult-mw0000268437
667) The Beach Boys — “Never Learn Not to Love”
The Beach Boys give the song the Beach Boys treatment, and it shines (until you ponder its origins). Again, Lauren Bronston:
In the spring of 1968, Dennis Wilson, drummer for the Beach Boys . . . picked up two female hitchhikers. . . . [who u]nbeknownst to Wilson . . . were Patricia Krenwinkel and Ella Jo Bailey from the Manson family. . . . [They saw] Wilson . . . as another good-looking Angeleno to fool around with — not fully appreciating his . . . status as a Beach Boy. . . . [and] relish[ing] having a place to crash, particularly since it was a mansion. . . . Manson was drawn to Wilson for his connections in the music industry, and Wilson was enticed by Manson’s open pocket of drugs, women, and sense of spiritually. . . . often referr[ing] to Manson as “the Wizard.” . . . It wouldn’t be long before Wilson would start hosting parties filled with Manson’s guitar playing, LSD trips, and sex . . . . With the Manson clan staying with Wilson, they were slowly taking over his house. . . .
Wilson tried to get Manson some attention by taking him out to nightclubs to meet people from the music industry, including Neil Young . . . and [producer] Terry Melcher. . . . [but Manson] never wound up getting any deals. . . . Wilson himself would sign Manson . . . . [and] set up recording sessions with Stephen Desper . . . . Manson’s erratic behavior raised many red flags . . . . [and w]hen his criminal past was discovered, it was passed along to Wilson who at this point shelled out around $100,000 to pay for Manson and his family’s lifestyle of food, gifts and penicillin to control a gonorrhea outbreak. To avoid a confrontation, Wilson had deserted his leased house . . . . When the lease expired, Manson and his crew were kicked out . . . . Wilson . . . continued to try to help him out.
One of Manson’s songs, “Cease to Exist,” was of particular interest to Wilson who [procured the] rights to the song. . . . for some money and a motorcycle. . . . Wilson changed the lyrics, tune, and name to “Never Learn Not to Love.” Taking full credit, the song wound up on the Beach Boys’s album, 20/20, without the other members knowing [at the time that] it was written and created by Manson . . . . Wilson changed a key component of the lyric “cease to exist[ just come and say you love me” to “cease to resist, [come on say you love me]” . . . . Manson, who had no idea that Wilson was going to change the song so much, became enraged at this and laid a bullet on Wilson’s pillow to let him know “the bullet was for him.” Wilson cut ties with Manson immediately . . . .
With one door of opportunity closed to having a music career, Manson sought out one final option through Melcher, who tried to give Manson a shot but [ultimately] . . . withdraw his offer. . . . igniting hatred and anger . . . . Melcher and his wife would move out of [their house] having been scared of Manson, allowing its new occupants, Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate, to move in. It would be months later when Tate, and several guests, would be murdered by the Manson family because of a misunderstanding that Melcher still lived there.https://www.lethalamounts.com/magazine-index/2021/7/22/how-a-charles-manson-song-snuck-onto-a-beach-boys-album?format=amp
Wikipedia cites Jon Stebbins’ book Dennis Wilson: The Real Beach Boy for the Manson quote “Dennis Wilson was killed by my shadow because he took my music and changed the words from my soul.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dennis_Wilson#CITEREFStebbins2000)
668) Dave Bixby — “666”
It sounds trite to call “666” haunting and apocalyptic, but here is a haunting and apocalyptic song by the mesmerizing Dave Bixby. Klemen Breznikar tells us that:
Dave’s definitive loner acid folk album, ‘Ode to Quetzalcoatl’, was recorded following a long period of time [he] spent in what he calls “the void”. A dark, depressive episode after a prolonged period of taking LSD almost daily. Dave came out of the void and turned to God, a journey and transformation ‘Ode to Quetzalcoatl’ documents. . . . Dave’s lived a vivid and fascinating life, beginning with his leadership within a Michigan-based Christian cult only known as “The Group”. Always a loner and an adventurer, Dave left the group after being sent to various corners of the country to launch new chapters, built a cabin and lived off the land.https://www.psychedelicbabymag.com/2011/11/dave-bixby-interview-about-ode-to.html
Ron Hart adds that:
For collectors of the downer/loner folk movement of the late ’60s . . . the solo debut from Michigan garage rocker-turned-born-again Xian Dave Bixby . . . go[es] for upwards of $2,000 on eBay. . . . Recorded after he spent a year playing solo and experimenting with LSD, Bixby laid down this album in a living room with the bare bones of amenities. . . . Bixby relies on the strength of his deeply faithful lyrics rooted in the Book of Revelations and the artist’s own personal drug-fueled Armageddon to carry his songs through the night.https://www.popmatters.com/110072-dave-bixby-ode-to-quetzalcoatl-guerssen-harbinger-second-coming-guer-2496072674.html
And François Couture:
[Ode]. . . was the work of a man in search of himself. . . . a brutally honest downer-folk album[. Then,] Bixby met and joined Don DeGraaf’s religious group. A charismatic Christian guru, DeGraaf quickly harnessed Bixby’s talent and got him to write and perform uplifting, utopian songs about finding the light and understanding yourself — which was what Bixby had written before, although this time the lyrics have lost their erstwhile aspect in favor of a more didactic style. [W]hereas Ode . . . simply chronicled a personal path to inner realization, Second Coming [see #531] is more about collective salvation, communal bonding, and proselytism.https://www.allmusic.com/album/second-coming-mw0000819487
Bixby himself recollects that:
Winter of 1968 I was not doing so well. Too many acid trips . . . . I quietly freaked out. I was in hell with no way to communicate it to anyone. Some months later my lead guitar buddy Brian MacInness introduced me to Don DeGraff I ended up in a prayer circle. . . . That night I did my own praying, fell asleep and a new spirit was born in me. . . . I saw people’s pain and fear, it was just like mine. I knew what to say to give comfort. Songs began to flood in to me, writing them down I sang them everywhere DeGraff had the first Group meeting at his house with about ten to twelve people and the numbers grew every week eventually needing a bigger building; then we out grew that building. I performed songs every Tuesday night at group meetings. These meetings grew to 300 people. I was asked many times to record an album. I selected twelve songs out of thirty I had written. Each song supported the next song in theme. The Quetzalcoatl story of a Christ like man walking the America’s captivated my imagination becoming the title for the LP. . . . In the studio it seemed a little lonely. ‘Ode to Quetzalcoatl’ is a lonely journey so it all worked well. . . . This album is a concept. Each song is a chapter in a book. The theme throughout is one of stepping out in faith and walking through the darkness into the light. . . . Apocalypse. [Asked in what state of mind he was when he recorded it, Bixby said] I felt new, humbled and grateful. When I prayed I got answers and direction. I was moving forward with out doubt. I was going through a metamorphosis with out words to describe my experience. I captured some of it in song.https://www.psychedelicbabymag.com/2011/11/dave-bixby-interview-about-ode-to.html
Here, Bixby is live in Copenhagen in 2018:
In this 2016 concert, Bixby offers some fascinating reflections on his life and where the album came from:
Here’s a great cover by the Danish band Sonic Dawn:
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