Henry Hrebien writes ...

The Strawberry Alarm Clock………think about it. The…… Strawberry…… Alarm…… Clock. Now, what a bizarre name for a band. It seems kind of pseudo psychedelic as if the person who dreamed up this name never took acid but came up with a title after surmising what a psychedelic experience must be like and therefore dreamed up this Pop Art, maybe even Rene Magritte-absurdity.

And for radio listeners out there in radioland in the 1960s, the Everyday People that Sly & The Family Stone sang about, most of them not hippies or draft dodgers or college students or in a rock band, but ordinary folk,….. when they heard this band’s hit song on the radio at the time, Incense and Peppermints, and the band's name, the whole package moulded to most people's conception of what an acid experience must be like, all surreal and hallucinatory. The public’s reaction, people who had never taken acid let alone seen an LSD dosed tab or an eyedropper bottle, was then one of acceptance, that only somebody whacked out on acid could come up with both.

Let’s not kid ourselves, Incense and Peppermints is a very druggy song aurally. It has been described as a psychedelic song, sunshine pop, psychedelic bubblegum pop, acid rock, you name it, it might just apply.

And if you examine the lyrics, they couch underlying currents of thought in the culture; of questioning the status quo, of stepping outside the box, of mind expansion, of living for now, no matter what the current game in town is, a jaundiced view of the world through the rose coloured lens of psychedelics and psychedelic inspired quests for alternatives.

The mid-60s was an interesting period. Youth culture was burgeoning and creating ripples namely because of the numbers, the baby boomers coming of age, wanting it all and wanting it NOW because of the spectre of Cold War-driven threats of mutual annihilation, the sword of Damocles of thermonuclear war between the superpowers, civilization on the brink of catastrophe.

But for 1966 and 1967, that period of psychedelic fluorescence, and the subsequent years of 1968, and yes, maybe even 1969……it fits.

Incense and Peppermints and The Strawberry Alarm Clock fits with the general zeitgeist of the times. The incense evoking imagery of the coolest hippie pad or psychedelic shack, you know…… with all the boho trimmings of lava lamps, patterned cushions, Day-Glo psychedelic posters on the wall, beaded curtains, a hookah in the corner of the room next to the sitar……a veritable hippie casbah in the medinas of Haight-Ashbury, Laurel Canyon, or Greenwich Village and every college campus dorm.

And what of the peppermints? are they just harmless peppermints or something else? Is it a euphemism to get by the censors? a coded message to the “tuned in, turned on and dropped out’’? I’m not going to tell you. Some mysteries are best left a mystery to prolong the controversy. the longevity of the issue.

Incense and Peppermints, I will admit, is the one and only song I have ever heard by this band. To me, it’s a novelty song. I have a take it or leave it near indifference to it, even though I like psychedelic music. I dunno, I blow hot and cold and lukewarm at different times. I suppose if I got nostalgic and wanted to listen to old psychedelia as opposed to current and neo-psychedelia, Incense and Peppermints would be on the playlist.

I see I have digressed from the question, ‘’whatever happened to The Strawberry Alarm Clock?’’ Frankly, it never occurred to me to know or to find out until this question was asked of me by request. So, ignorant of an answer, I went to the Wikipedia page.

I found out.

My answer to this question is not to repeat what’s there. Make your own cyber trek to the page, what you seek to know is there in lurid Day-glo.

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