The Sixties Counter-Culture saved the World!

Beefheart played his part!

Opher's World

1950s post-war culture was drab and dreary. Life in Britain was dire with rationing and poverty. The country was littered with bomb-sites and no money to provide the impetus for a renovation to lift the country.

Socially life was equally drab and boring. For boys you wore shorts until you were thirteen and then went into long trousers as a right of passage. At thirteen you became a mini version of your dad. For girls it was even worse. There were strict taboos and dress codes. Life was very linear and stereotyped.

I grew up in the post-war period with the ‘Sword of Damocles’ hanging over our heads in the form of what was accurately called M.A.D – Mutually Assured Destruction. The Soviet Union and the West were at each other’s throats with thousands of nuclear warheads poised. The USA was quite keen to use Britain as a fixed aircraft…

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Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg – Beat came like a breath of fresh air from the dungeons of Jazz – a guest piece I wrote for Matt at the Beat Company.

Beat came like a breath of fresh air from the dungeons of Jazz.

There was nothing special where I grew up; a little estate in the satellite towns around London. I ran wild in the fields and ditches, played in the streets and was oblivious to anything more. Life had its course. In the post-war fifties it was like the world was holding its breath and wanting everything humdrum and predictable. Normality was the order of the day. There had been a surfeit of change and excitement, terror and despair; England was recuperating.

They were grey days, though the sun shined. They were drab because the world was set in its ways. It was all mapped out.

I watched my parents. The way they dressed, talked and acted. They were good liberal people. There was the shopping, cooking, laundry and gossip. My Mum was never one for too much housework though she did like to talk. My Dad rose at the crack of dawn, donned his suit and headed for work in London. He came back in the evening, ate his tea and read the papers, watched some telly and off to bed.

The lawn was mown in stripes. The car washed and pipe smoked. On Sundays there was the roast beef to carve and on occasion a pint on the green. Everything had its place; life was routine. You grew up, out of shorts and into long trousers. You got a job, settled down, got married, had kids and carved the roast.

As the sixties erupted Rock music provided colour and excitement but it didn’t alter the pattern of life.

Then in the mid-sixties I discovered Kerouac. Jack Kerouac was like opening a door into a different world. That universe was populated with frenzied mad hipster poets who were driven by desperate need. This was no road movie. These were energised young men crazed on the possibility of life and eager for adventure. They sought out the wildness, fast cars, stolen cars, women, dope, poetry, Zen and a scorching desire to penetrate the mundane and get to the guts of life. Life was for burning. Life was too important to waste. Its essence had to be ripped out. Every second counted. They had to dissect it, experience it, up all night rapping into the dawn about crazy, about life, about meaning. Life was a mad quest for the holy grail of purpose. It wasn’t to be found in suburban lawns or washed cars; it was screeching in a sax solo somewhere in the Negro end of town where the people were alive and burned with vitality, on the long roads where the tyres screeched on the tarmac and the Beat people hobboed and hitched and recounted their crazy stories into the night fuelled on Benzedrine and alcohol; or in the scorching words of a poem ripped straight out of the mind to fly through spittle on tongue and teeth. Real people whose live were chaos; whose highs were extreme and lows unbearable. Yet they were all living. They were all burning with desire. – On the mountain tops were the serenity of Zen seeped into the soul on a wild meditation in search of «instant sartori» they searched the heavens for reason and tried to contain their roaring minds.

These characters were real, out of the underbelly of America, shucked off from the ordinary into a world that seethed with wonder, delight, revelation and elation; the «Subterraneans» from the underground who were roaring obscenities, truths and visions in cold-water tenements while straight America slept. Their music grooved. Their minds soared. Their energy pervaded life. To them life was a turmoil of wonder.

I devoured «On the Road», «Dharma Bums», «The Town and the City» and «Lonesome Traveller» and I wanted it. I wanted up those mountains with the bears, where the air was pure and Zen pierced the fabric of reality, to look down upon the world and live; those Jazz dungeons where only the moment and that endless wailing sax had any significance; those crazy journeys through the night dodging trucks and dicing death; the sex and love, the passion and desire. For life was not for enduring; it had to burn with the intensity of an atom bomb or it wasn’t worth a damn; it had to pierce through to some inner meaning or it wasn’t worth a fuck. It had to burn.

Then I read ‘Howl‘ by Ginsberg and rediscovered poetry. Poetry that had been killed for me in school, that had been moribund and pointless. Now it seared with words that punctured my soul. It spoke to me, awakened things inside me and sent me reeling. The words took on new meaning; weapons of barbed fire, scathing, extolling, describing, in anguish, in ecstasy, in despair and fury. And every one of those words resounded into my skull and seared into my cranium where it sent my blood rushing. This was real poetry that was incandescent, honest and ripped straight from the soul without refinement, metre or craft. It screamed it as it was.

I was becoming crazy too. I wanted that raw chaos and meaning. I wanted to shriek my poems from the inside of my skull too. I had pent-up fury to release. Life would never be the same. There was a cosmos of excitement and meaning that had been opened to me. Who could return to the world of carving and mowing when there was a universe to be grappled with, poems to be extracted and music to shriek to, words to rant, eyes to gleam and energy to burn? What life could be lived in suburbia while there were roads to roar down, people to meet, places to travel and mysteries to unravel?

I wasn’t beat ; I was Beat. My dreams were vivid, my mind soared and I would never mow straight lines again. There wasn’t time! There wasn’t time!

New book – The Blues Muse – The fictional story of Rock Music through the eyes of the man with no name. He lived it.


The Blues Muse is now available in paperback.

If you want to read the history of Rock Music through the eyes of someone who was there – from 1905 to now – he lived it. He was there at and in every major event. He was the man with no name.

2 New from £5.99                   

It is also available in Kindle version :

Kindle Edition
Subscribers read for £0.00 £2.08 to buy                         


I’m Not Like Everybody Else – Ray Davies and the Kinks – Lyrics and how they impacted.

When I were a young lad I used to play this non-stop. I would sit in my bedroom with my Dansette record player with the arm raise so that it played on repeat. If memory serves it was the B-side of Sunny Afternoon.

I was about fourteen/fifteen and was nuts about Rock Music (still am). This was way back in 1964/5. Very exciting times. The Beatles, Stones, Who, Downliners Sect, Prettythings, Yardbirds and Smallfaces were storming my head. Every week seemed to throw up a new bit of magic. It was as if something had been unleashed and all that pent up creativity was pouring out into music. This was our stuff. Music for my generation.

This was the era of ‘TURN THAT RACKET DOWN!’. As my Mum and Dad repeatedly shouted to me.

I was particularly fond of the Kinks because of the lyrics. This number summed up exactly how I felt. I did not fit in. I was a million miles away from my parents world and not in tune with my mates at school.

I was shortly to discover Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie and find that there were other people I could relate to.

For then – this was my song. I still love it.

“I’m Not Like Everybody Else”


I won’t take all that they hand me down,
And make out a smile, though I wear a frown,
And I won’t take it all lying down,
‘Cause once I get started I go to town.’Cause I’m not like everybody else,
I’m not like everybody else,
I’m not like everybody else,
I’m not like everybody else.

And I don’t want to ball about like everybody else,
And I don’t want to live my life like everybody else,
And I won’t say that I feel fine like everybody else,
‘Cause I’m not like everybody else,
I’m not like everybody else.

But darling, you know that I love you true,
Do anything that you want me to,
Confess all my sins like you want me to,
There’s one thing that I will say to you,
I’m not like everybody else,
I’m not like everybody else.

I’m not like everybody else,
I’m not like everybody else
And I don’t want to ball about like everybody else,
And I don’t want to live my life like everybody else,
And I won’t say that I feel fine like everybody else,
‘Cause I’m not like everybody else,
I’m not like everybody else.

Like everybody else,
Like everybody else,
Like everybody else,
Like everybody else.

If you all want me to settle down,
Slow up and stop all my running ’round,
Do everything like you want me to,
There’s one thing that I will say to you,
I’m not like everybody else,
I’m not like everybody else.

I’m not like everybody else,
I’m not like everybody else.
And I don’t want to ball about like everybody else,
And I don’t want to live my life like everybody else,
And I won’t say that I feel fine like everybody else,
‘Cause I’m not like everybody else,
I’m not like everybody else.

Like everybody else (like everybody else),
Like everybody else (like everybody else),
Like everybody else (like everybody else),
Like everybody else.

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So where have all the Hippies gone?


What happened to all those radical, long-haired Hippies from the sixties?

The young women and men who were so extreme that they rejected the lifestyle, the establishment, the wealth, the status, the conventions and formed their own liberal rules; who brought colour and flair, do-it-yourself philosophy; who sought meaning and integrity where there was superficiality and hypocrisy?

Where are those bold young people who saw the establishment as corrupt and obsessed with appearance?

Where are the ones who were determined to find a more honest way of living; who saw models for harmonious living among the simpler cultures of the North American Indians and South American Indians?

Where are the people who wanted peace, harmony and environmental integrity?

Was it all a fashion statement? An empty promise? A strategy to get laid?

Were they all weekend Hippies out for fun?

What happened to the Underground with its promise of real spirituality?

Did they get married?

Get careers?

Give up their ideals?

Are they now wearing suits? Running firms? Living in luxury? Buying yachts and penthouse suites?

Was it all worthless froth?

Or do they still write poems, sing songs, subvert from within, live true to their philosophy and fight for that better vision?

Where are the Beats, Hippies and Punks? Are they dead inside?

If you would like to try one of my books they are all available on Amazon.

In Britain :

In America:

In all other countries around the world check out your regional Amazon site and Opher Goodwin books.

Poetry – I do not accept the limits – a poem of hope

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I do not accept the limits

There are no rules. We make life up each and every moment.

All we have are habits and a heritage that we must pick from. Yet, with intelligence and personality, we can choose whatever path presents. We do not have to tread the well-trodden route.

There is nothing we cannot try. There is no way of knowing where a new path leads. That is how we discover new places.

If we try we might just succeed. There are no limits to what can be achieved if we but try.

We make our own limits, usually well within our scope. It is best to reach further even if we fall.

We are all building a new future.

There is a part to play.

Who is holding back?


I do not accept the limits


I do not accept the limits of my life.

Why should I?

There are no rules.


To push the boundaries

Is just part

Of what makes up

This pack of tools.


I dream of the impossible;

To create

A panacea

Fit for fools.


Opher 14.4.2016

These are my six books of poetry. They are available as paperback or on Kindle from Amazon – all for under £5 for a paperback.

They are not conventional poetry books. They are like you find on my blog with a page of explanatory prose followed by the poem. The prose is as important as the poem to me.

Codas, Cadence and Clues – £4.97

Stanzas and Stances

Poems and Peons – £4.33

Rhymes and Reasons – £3.98

Prose, Cons and Poetry – £4.60

Vice and Verse – £4.15

Jack Kerouac – Catholicism and his mother – a strange guilt-ridden relationship?


Jack Kerouac – Catholicism and his mother – a strange guilt-ridden relationship?

Jack Kerouac is a hero of mine. Reading his books back in my formative years had a big impact on me. He invigorated me and altered my view of life. He revealed an alternative.

I was always intrigued with his relationship with his mother and his life as a Roman Catholic. It seemed to me that he was pulled in all directions and lived in two worlds. I always felt that it was this struggle between two opposing ideologies that drove him to drink and led to his early death.

Jack was brought up in a Roman Catholic background and lived with his mother. It was here, at his mother’s house, that he wrote most of his books. I can just picture him there in that homely environment, tap-tapping away on his old type-write while his mother sat in the other room and cooked him meals, ironed his shirts and looked after him. Not quite the image of the crazed rebel. Yet then he would go wild. He would go off for mad escapades with the characters that featured in his books – Ginsberg, Burroughs, Cassady and Corso. He was drawn to the crazier outsiders, those with the energy and lust for being on the edge. Like iron filing to the magnet of Cassady he was helpless. He saw the excitement and wanted it.

Jack went off to New York and hitched and drove across country To San Francisco, Denver and Mexico on mad adventures full of craziness, promiscuity, drugs, poetry, jazz and madness.

He was turned on by Cassady’s wildness and complete irresponsibility, by Ginsberg’s intensity and passion and Corso’s seeking. On car journeys, sometimes in stolen cars, across the States or to Mexico, dicing with death, driving like lunatics, high on pot or amphetamine, delving into wild Mexican brothels or black Jazz dives, always living life at speed, rapping through the night, pouring out poems, seeking nirvana on mountain tops, sartori in the dynamo of the celestial night and love in the eyes of a Mexican beauty, Jack found he was alive like never before.

But then, when the cheque (from his military service) ran out or the odd jobs dried up he endured the cold and hunger and then returned to his mother. I think he had had his fill.

Unlike the others he had a refuge. After the debauched days of crazy poetry, sex and jazz, there was the repentance and confessions.

I’m not sure what his Mum made of it?

Jack was a Buddhist Catholic with a guilt complex and an alcohol habit.

Jack was not so much a main character in what was going on in the mid fifties so much as a chronicler. Without him there wouldn’t have been a narrative. His stream of consciousness writing captured the rhythm of the poetry and jazz. It was as if he went along as an observer and watched the antics from afar, noting everything and meticulously recording it. His books were not so much novels as memoirs of the mad exploits of his outsider friends on their journeys of exploration and adventure as they reamed the seam of life and sought the answers in the void outside of society. He did partake but mainly he watched so that he could splurge it all back out in one great mammoth regurgitation.

When the sixties arrived it was interesting to see how it panned out. Ginsberg and Cassady embraced it whole-heartedly. Ginsberg teamed up with Dylan and got into the scene, Cassady became the driver for Ken Kesey and hung around with the Grateful Dead. Even Burroughs got into the Rock scene doing spoken word outpourings with the likes of Kurt Cobain from Nirvana. It was Kerouac who remained aloof.

I remember the TV programme of William Buckley’s with a drunken Kerouac being set up by Buckley and ridiculed, and Kerouac rejecting any association with the sixties counter-culture despite Ed Sanders (of the Fugs), another participant, obviously idolising him, all he had done and his contribution to American culture. Jack was distraught at the very idea that he might have been in any way responsible for that sixties rebellion. Yet he was. By chronicling it so well and embracing the craziness he had unleashed an alternative vision.

I see Jack in the same way I see many of the Old Rock ‘n’ Rollers from the Deep South. They too were brought up in a highly religious environment. They were attracted to the Blues and R&B with its hard drinking, womanising and gambling. They were torn. Their upbringing and religious indoctrination pulled them one way and their desire for the wild life pulled them the other. You see it with Little Richard, Johnny Cash, Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis. They would vacillate between wild excess and pious sobriety. It was this dichotomy that pushed them to excess. It was as if it became so pent up inside that when it came out they pushed it to the extreme. They thought that they were doing the devil’s work, they were damned, so it didn’t matter any more. They might as well be hung for a whole hog as a slice of bacon. Then they’d pull up short, repent and go to the other extreme.

For me American culture is like that; it’s extremes. There’s no going down the middle. If you’re bad you’re the meanest mother on the planet; if you’re good you’re apple pie and sweet as candy.

I think that vacillation in Kerouac was obvious and led to his alcohol problem. He was torn apart by it.

I would like to investigate his relationships with his mother and Catholicism more thoroughly. I think there was a lot going on there.

Rock Music – British Beat and Mod-beat from the sixties – a list of the best tracks.

This is a list of my favourite tracks from the sixties Beat Boom of1964. There were some great bands.

This is when Britain ruled the world. Our Music dominated. We took the States by storm and there were hundreds of great bands. My favourites were the Downliners Sect!

Rock Routes cover

This is another extract from the book Rock Routes. I bet you would add a few tracks to this and maybe take a couple out. But that’s the fun of it!

Band Stand out tracks
Rolling Stones Carol

Walking the dog

I just want to make love to you

Come on

Its all over now

I Can’t be satisfied

Little red rooster

I’m a king bee

Mona (I need you baby)

Downhome girl

Under the boardwalk

Grown up all wrong

What a shame

You can’t catch me

Pain in my heart

Off the hook

Susie Q

I can’t be satisfied

Talking about you

I’m free

That’s how strong my love is

Hitch hike

You better move on

Take it or leave it

Mother’s little helper

Out of time

Under my thumb

I want to be loved

Poison ivy

Not fade away

Its all over now

Around and round

Downliners Sect One ugly child

Our little rendezvous

Too much monkey business

Baby what’s on your mind


Cops & robbers

I wanna put a tiger in your tank

Be a sect maniac

Hurt by love

He was a square

Them Gloria

Here comes the night

Baby please don’t go

It’s all over now Baby Blue

Kinks Well respected man


I’m not like everybody else

You really got me

Beautiful Delilah

Long tall shorty

I’m a lover not a fighter

Got love if you want it

Long tall shorty

Tired f waiting for you

Come on now

Milkcow blues

Til the end of the day

All day and all of the night

Yardbirds A certain girl

Good morning little schoolgirl

I ain’t got you

I aint done wrong

Heart full of soul

Still I’m sad

I wish you would

Too much monkey business

I’m a man

Smokestack lightnin’

Here Tis

Got love if you want it

Animals Story of Bo Diddley


Bury my body

I’m mad again

Boom boom

Around and around

I aint got you

For Miss Caulker


I’m cryin’

House of the rising sun

Don’t let me be misunderstood

We gotta get out of this place

Screaming Lord Sutch I’m a hog for you baby

Jack the ripper

Monster in black tights

Pretty Things Don’t bring me down



Mama, keep your big mouth shut

She’s fine she’s mine

Honey I need

Pretty Thing

Can’t stand the pain

Buzz the jerk

Nashville Teens Tobacco Road

Goggle eye

Find my way back home

I like it like that

Moody Blues Go now
Manfred Mann 5 4 3 2 1

If you gotta go go now

Do wah diddy diddy

It’s gonna work out fine

Down the road apiece

Smokestack lightnin’

I’m your kingpin

I’m your Hoochie Coochie man

The way you do the things you do

Spencer Davis Dimples

Keep on running

Gimme some lovin’

I’m a man

Somebody help me

Strong love

I washed my hands in muddy water

This hammer

When a man loves a woman

Midnight special

Others Oh Yeah
Poets We’re Thru
Sorrows Take a heart
Measles Casting my spell
Birds Leaving here
Cryin’ Shames Please stay
Undertakers (Do the) mashed potatoes

Just a little bit

Paramounts Poison ivy

Little bitty pretty one

A certain girl

Zombies She’s not there

Tell her no

Roulettes Bad Time
Adam Faith & Roulettes We are in love

The First time



Artist Outstanding Tracks
Who I can’t explain

My generation

Happy Jack

Summertime blues

The kids are all right

Boris the spider

I can see for miles

So sad about us

Mary Ann with the shakey hand

Anyway anyhow anywhere


Pictures of Lily

Smallfaces What ya gonna do about it

Sha la la la lee


My mind’s eye

Hey girl

All or nothing

Action Land of a 1000 dances

Shadows and reflections




Jack Kerouac – What he meant to writing, life and the sixties.


Jack opened a door and let a new stream of light come flooding in. It swept the old dull formula away.

Before Jack there was a structure and form. Everything had its place. There were rules, procedures, format and sequence. It was staid. It was dull. It was controlled.

Jack opened a valve in his head and the steam of ideas, words and stories gushed forth in one long screaming roar.

Jack put his words into life as if he was playing a never-ending saxophone line. They wailed, parped and spouted out in uncontrolled frenzy. They streamed along in a great torrent that gathered you up and bore you along with it.

There were no rules. There was no formula. It was a raging waterfall that cascaded along with a madness, exuberance and all the spontaneity of now. It wasn’t so much telling a story as relating the moment, describing now.

And what a now!

It was a now teeming with desires, madness and a thirst for life that could not be contained, had no limits, and was bursting to explode out of the confines of the shackles society puts on us.

Jack was too alive to sit still, too wired. He had to let loose. He sought fellow freaks to travel, open up new horizons and explore possibilities; rapping endlessly as they delved the depths of possibility – ecstatic on discovery. Discovery of self, of possibility, for awe and wonder, to wrestle the demons, open up the senses, to let go; to give rein to all the sensations possible and experience life. There was sex, drugs, fast cars, laughs, kicks, craziness and exaggerated, heightened possibility. There was meaning, purpose and kicks to be screwed out of the drabness.

Jack was in awe of the emancipated black culture and its propensity to let its hair down; its sensuous sexuality, unloosed vitality and wondrous creativity. The black culture was rich and thriving where white culture was constrained and uptight. He wanted to be as loud, as natural and as in touch with his inner self and let all that bottled up energy out. In the black clubs with the black music it was GO GO GO GO GO – crazy man. There were no limits. You went for it.

Despite all the racism and poverty the black American culture had style, had class and knew how to let it hang out. When you’ve got nothing, you’ve got nothing to lose. They burned. They grasped every second and knew how to extract the kicks out of it. It was wild. It was real.

After Jack how could one go back to living an ordinary life? To writing manufactured stories? – To following an ordained pathway into a career, a home and a life of tedium. This was a plastic culture of concrete and control. It was as dead as the dodo.

Jack had defied the cosmos and sought satori in the majesty of being.

How could you mow the grass and catch the eight thirty to the office?

Without Jack could we have had that sweeping liberalism of the sixties that swept the dowdy conformism away? Or would we be living in our little boxes, locked up inside as repressed as the society that spawned us?

Jack was the great liberator. Once the door was open then was no holding back the current. The dam gave way. The sixties was the flood that Jack unleashed.

I was swept along in that tide. Who could deny the energy and excitement? The freedom?

Allen Ginsberg howled and Jack roared down the highways of life. They both opened minds.