Forefathers of Long Hair
It wasn’t always "cool" (i.e. socially acceptable) to have long hair, but Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young were pioneers of counterculture in a generation that was told to cut their hair. Fifty years later, we are still moved by the message in their all-time track, “Almost Cut My Hair,” which strikes an emotional chord for longhairs old and young.
Here we dive into this timeless classic, what it meant for men with long hair in the 1960s and 70s, and its lasting cultural impact on the present.
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash and Neil Young are each legendary musicians in their own right. They were in numerous other classic rock bands, including The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield and The Hollies, before uniting as one of the first musical supergroups.
Their second show ever was at Woodstock (the actual Woodstock), the festival that launched all festivals. The intimidating scene in the early morning hours of August 18, 1969 prompted the now-famous remark from Stills into the microphone, “This is the second time we've ever played in front of people, man. We're scared shitless.”
Almost Cut My Hair
Freak Flags & Paranoia
Having long hair was dangerous back then, and there was a price for making this choice. The danger is tangible in Crosby’s searing plea, “I feel like letting my freak flag fly,” while the paranoia, “like looking at my mirror and seeing a police car,” is troubling and pervasive.
“But I'm not giving in an inch to fear” asserts defiance in a literal and figurative sense, offering hope and courage for the preservation of personal freedom.
News Traveled Differently in the 1960s
In the pre-internet days when information spread more slowly, through magazines, newspapers, TV and the radio, the subtle but profound message in “Almost Cut My Hair” reached every corner of the country.
The emotional pain channeled through Crosby’s voice was delivered to millions, crystallizing the deeper meaning of being a longhair.
Speaking to a generation, it asked a question we still ask today:
Hair Is To Wear
The answer today is the same as in 1970: the choice is yours. While cultural trends have shifted over the past 50 years, and wearing long hair may not hold the same connotation, it is still a rebellious choice.
For those who chose long hair in the 60s and 70s, “Almost Cut My Hair” assured a sense of identity and belonging, galvanizing a community that refused to conform. Crosby’s promise holds true even today: if you let your freak flag fly…you won’t be alone.
“Almost Cut My Hair” laid the groundwork for a thriving longhair community, a precursor as it were, to The Longhairs. Far removed from the shame and shadows of the past, with confidence and humility we carry on the stewardship of this community.
We didn’t start it. We don’t own it. But we’re gonna carry the freak flag for as long as it flies.
Master of Ceremonies Jefferson Jay
Jefferson Jay is a musician, comedy host and content creator. He was the legendary emcee for The Great Cut, tirelessly hosting The Longhairs’ record-breaking event for over 14 hours. Jefferson Jay records are available on Spotify, iTunes and Jefferson Jay. His animated series, The Hunt for The Holiday Spirit, will change the way people experience inclusivity. All his amazing projects live at The Good Vibe.
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