“Come on people now, smile on me brother, everybody get together, try to love one another right now,” said the lyrics on the computer screen in St. Lucia as a gentleman spoke at the Feast of Tabernacles about different conceptions of love. At the end of the song, I had misattributed the song to someone else and had to look up who actually did the song. I knew that the band was really only famous for this song, but there was much more to the band than their hippie paean to universal love and brotherhood that hit the top 5 during the late 1960’s. Are they worthy of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as an obvious one-hit wonder? Much of that depends on how much you view the importance of their status as critical darlings and the way in which their work was clearly a part of its time and strongly embraced the hippie aesthetic. Not everyone may be fond of that aesthetic , but it remains one that is culturally important and influential. And it is that standard that we must judge a band by. Why was there such a disconnect between the popularity of this band and their critical appeal as well as their understanding of influential cultural trends, which they happened to be a part of as musicians?
The Influence Of The Youngbloods
In discussing the influence of The Youngbloods, it is worthwhile to begin with their only hit, “Get Together,” which became popular as a theme of brotherhood between Jews and Christians in the late 1960’s. The song itself, which had previously been released and not been a successful single (not even hitting the top 50 of the Billboard Hot 100 chart), struct a chord with an ecumenical group and then that sentiment struck a chord with the general public. None of their other songs managed to strike the same chord with the general public, but that doesn’t mean they are lacking in influence either. Let us discuss the case of “Darkness, Darkness,” a song released twice that never hit higher than #86 on the Billboard Hot 100 and yet has been covered more than a dozen times, one of which it became a hit single for Robert Plant (formerly of Led Zeppelin fame) on the Rock charts  and was reputedly a song that touched a nerve with soldiers in Vietnam for the way it captured how the nights in that horrible war felt. Is this not influence, even if it is not exactly popularity?
Why The Youngbloods Deserve To Be In The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
The Youngbloods present an interesting and complicated case for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and a case for influence that is multi-faceted. One of their producers, Charlie Daniels, went on to be a country superstar best known for his classic “The Devil Went Down To Georgia,” and toured as part of a duo with one of the members of the Youngbloods early in his musical career . The band itself released seven albums of original material and only one of them ever hit the top half of the Billboard Top 200 albums, and yet the band’s music has endured. “Get Together” remains a classic of the hippie era, and the band even managed to make a hippie answer song to Merle Haggard’s “Okie From Musgokee” with “Hippie From Olema,” a song that didn’t chart but which demonstrates their awareness of the cultural war of which they were a part. Besides their own originals, the band had great taste in gospel and blues songs which they covered as the b-sides to their generally unpopular but critically acclaimed singles. Does inspiring other musicians and having the favor of tastemakers and critics overcome immense unpopularity?
Why The Youngbloods Aren’t In The Rock And Roll Hall of Fame
It’s fairly obvious why The Youngbloods aren’t yet in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. They were too popular to be liked by hipsters, because they had a hit and one that remains important, even if it was their only hit. Yet they are far too unpopular to have a large and vocal group of people demanding their induction. Yet their music–and not only their biggest hit–have had a massive cultural importance that continues to this day, the band was a major element of the hippie cultural war in their music and if Buffalo Springfield are worthy of induction for “For What It’s Worth,” then surely The Youngbloods deserve entry for their own career.
Verdict: Put them in. It’s not very often the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has an opportunity to put in another important late 60’s group. These opportunities should be taken advantage of.
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