As 50th Anniversary of “Summer of Love” Approaches, Mat Callahan Speaks at Temple


As the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love nears closer, Temple’s Sociology Department hosted musician Mat Callahan to discuss the event, along with promoting his new book, “The Explosion of Deferred Dreams.”

The Summer of Love was a social phenomenon in the summer of 1967. Thousands of young supporters of counterculture, including Callahan, flocked to San Francisco in hopes of an entire social revolution. Many of these supporters were suspicious of the government, opposing consumerist values and the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War.

At the talk, Callahan discussed the media’s role in the flow of misinformation in regards to certain terms like the “hippie movement.” According to Callahan, terms like “system,” “movement,” “consciousness,” and “liberation” derive from past events of oppression and resilience such as the Civil Rights Movement, which was also happening at the time.

Callahan then continued to describe his book.

“[It’s a] critical re-examination of the interwoven political and musical happenings in San Francisco in the 60’s,” Callahan said.

In the book, he explores intersections between the Black Panthers, the United Farm Workers, the New Left, and counterculture, while also discussing music’s influence during the tumultuous time period.

Throughout his discussion, he decided to introduce and answer three major questions in order to summarize as neatly as he could. The first was, “Why music?”

“It not only spoke to the youth, but it became the voice of the youth,” Callahan said.

The second question he presented was, “Why revolution?”

His explanations included country unrest, G.I. resistance increase, other revolutions, and the early events that led to 1968.

“The year 1968 is now so widely associated and so closely associated with worldwide revolution that you can buy books [titled] ‘1968’ because it is assumed that the author and publisher are gonna know what this is talking about, that it’s 1968, worldwide revolution,” Callahan said.

His last question was, “Why San Francisco?” He explained that he believes San Francisco was a focal point that demanded the world’s attention.

Callahan finished the talk by opening the floor to a Q&A about technology’s role, the music industry, and similarities between the beginning of the Summer of Love and the current unrest under the Trump administration.