1995 Interview

Page 16: Peace, Love & Hope

McKENZIE: I was just gonna ask you if I could say one thing about what this music means, because when you mentioned about young people not having lived during the Sixties. John alluded to, earlier, especially this thing about Vietnam, but it’s true in other areas also, what this music means to the people. When we go to Europe, I spend a lot of time in East Germany and talk to people there who tell me how much the music means to them and that it was freedom music to them. They were visited by the secret police, stazi police, who told them to renounce their membership in fan clubs and stop listening to the music or they’d go to a jail. They actually had jails, mind prisons over there, and I’ve been to one. Being mindless, I wasn’t required to stay. And then in South America, the same thing was true. The music was considered revolution music. And here, this isn’t just true for "San Francisco," my song, John’s song, I sang. It’s true for all of it. For Vietnam vets, it was what kept them going, in a lot of ways, for years, dreaming of coming home. They still come up to me. I carry a bronze star that a vet gave me, a combat patch that a vet gave me. I’ve talked to two POW’s who told me how much it meant to them. I just think it’s important that the young people - maybe some people our age don’t know it either, realize that whether we intended to be that much a part of what was happening - I didn’t. I didn’t have any idea I was gonna sing a song that would mean that much to anybody. But I did. And that music is in the hearts of millions of people all over the world, and it represents freedom and dying for freedom, or doing what they thought was right and now they think it’s wrong. It goes very, very deep into our collective psyche, and the world’s collective psyche. It’s amazing. It still amazes me and I still talk to someone almost every time we perform. Someone will come up to me and thank me, some vet. It’s amazing.

PHILLIPS: Yeah. It’s always sort of a show-stopping song, when Scott sings it, and it’s usually a standing ovation for it. People would cry. It’s incredible.

McKENZIE: But I mean all of the music. All this music. And not just the music that was in Forrest Gump , but all the music in Forrest Gump applies. But I mean the music that all these artists have done. Some of them are dead now and some of them aren’t. I’m not sure about us.

PHILLIPS: [Laughs]

McKENZIE: Somewhere in between. I don’t know if anyone else has said that.

JOHNSON: No. They haven’t.

McKENZIE: It’s really true and it really means that much to a lot of people.

PHILLIPS: We didn’t realize, for one thing, that the music went worldwide. We thought it was in L.A. [laughs] and New York and maybe Chicago. But now we tour all over the world. We tour Brazil, Shanghai, Singapore, Hong Kong. Everyone knows the songs, all the songs, everywhere we go. And they sing them in their fantastic way of singing, whatever country it is. And they know all the lyrics, the words, the background, the whole thing.

JOHNSON: And it does speak to peace and love.

McKENZIE: Hope.

PHILLIPS: That’s why they know it and that’s what they relate to it and that’s what they get from it.

McKENZIE: And they get help from seeing us and other people from that time, that are performing. It’s just absolutely amazing. And it’s true. It’s true.