Tune In, Turn On, Drop Out

Counterculture by the mid-sixties morphed from Beat to the hippie drug scene; from uppers like Speed to psychedelics like LSD and mushrooms; from acoustical folk, blues and jazz to electric rock n’ roll; from elitist enclaves of artists, musicians, and writers to a wide-open scene of discontented middle class youth. Everywhere, from the first Be-In in San Francisco to the Woodstock Festival in New York, young people were gathering to express themselves and explore consciousness, social awareness, and relationships.

Woodstock, 1969

Woman Playing Flute, Woodstock, 1969

Often women were in the background both in the mainstream culture and in the hippie sexist culture. Against this backdrop of intense cultural change, there were some women’s voices that rose above the noise–either in literature or in song.

What did “Tune In, Turn On, Drop Out” mean to you?  What parts of this expression did you embrace, and how did you give voice to your thoughts and feelings at this time of cultural change?

The Woodstock Festival
became the icon representing the height of the hippie movement. (Only four months later, another music festival on the West Coast at Altamont came to be viewed as its end.) Held from August 15-18, 1969 in the Catskills and billed as “3 Days of Peace and Music” Woodstock boasted more than 32 music acts and drew more than 400,000 people. Where were you when Woodstock and Altamont took place?

Though not actually at Woodstock, Joni Mitchell’s song, “Woodstock,” became a hit.


Aretha Franklin at Madame Tussauds

Aretha Franklin is an American musician, singer, songwriter, and pianist. In April 1967, she issues her second single, the Otis Redding song, “Respect,” knowing that it had deeper meaning for the civil rights movement and another single, “Think,” that gives pause to the treatment of women.

Janis Joplin

Janis Joplin


Janis Joplin rose to prominence in the late 1960s as the lead singer of the psychedelic-acid rock band, Big Brother and the Holding Company, and later as a solo artist with her more soulful and bluesy backing groups. Joplin was well known for her performing abilities and her fans still refer to her stage presence as electric.


Grace Slick

Grace Slick

Grace Slick, singer, songwriter, becomes the lead singer of the rock groups, The Great Society and Jefferson Airplane; she is an important figure in the 60s psychedelic rock, known for her witty lyrics and contralto vocals.


Maya Angelou's book cover: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Published 1969

Maya Angelou, American author and poet in 1969, publishes the first and most highly acclaimed in her autobiography series, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, that tells of her first seventeen years and brings her international recognition.




Angelou, Maya. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. 1969.
Echols, Alice. Scars of Sweet Paradise: The Life and Times of Janis Joplin. New York: Holt, 1999.
Franklin, Aretha.  From These Roots. New York: Villard, 1999.
Santana, Deborah. Space between the Stars: My Journey to an Open Heart. New York: One World/Ballantine, 2006.
Slick, Grace. Somebody to Love? A Rock-and-Roll Memoir. New York: Warner Books, 1998.

Media & Other Links

 The Official Aretha Franklin
Grace Slick @ Jefferson Airplane
Joni Mitchell
Janis Joplin
Joan Baez
Deborah Santana