All Things Must Pass

All Things Must Pass

Happy anniversary

Released November 27, 1970

George Harrison’s “All Things Must Pass”

When Apple Records released George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass triple-album on November 27, 1970, many fans thought that George had finally written some songs. Though Beatle albums typically had a song or two by him, the Lennon-McCartney juggernaut ruled. He was seen as an important member only in terms of his playing.

In Rolling Stone’s January 21, 1971 review of the album,  Ben Gerson described Harrison as the “…young, vulnerable George the craftsman, bent over his Gretch in concert, making sure that every lick was as good as it was on record; the perfectionist who would later dismiss the majority of Beatle music as “rubbish”; briefly Haight — Ashbury George, with eyeglasses, like Lolita’s, in the shape of valentines; humble George, Ravi Shankar’s student; holy George.”

In reality, Harrison had written most of the album’s songs in the 60s. He had said, “Well before I started, I knew I was gonna make a good album because I had so many songs and I had so much energy. For me to do my own album after all that — it was joyous. Dream of dreams.

What follows is a bit of the album’s recording chronology  based on the booklet that came with its 50th anniversary re-release. as well as from the excellent Beatle Bible site. I have listed each song in the order it appeared on the original album.

All Things Must Pass

Studio Three Abbey Road

All Things Must Pass

On May 26, 1970, George Harrison, Ringo, and Klaus Voorman recorded demos for 15 songs. The next day, Harrison alone played 15 more songs for Phil Spector, the person Harrison wanted to produce the album.

Seventeen of those 30 songs would became part of the first two of the eventual three disc release.

Spector would say, “I was working with John [Lennon] on the Plastic Ono Band. I went to George’s Friar Park…and he said, “I have a few ditties for you to hear.” It was endless! He had literally hundreds of songs and each one was better than the rest…”

All Things Must Pass

Side One

All Things Must Pass

 

I’d Have You Anytime

Let me in here; I know I’ve been here

In November 1968, the Band had invited Harrison for Thanksgiving.  Bob Dylan lived nearby in Byrdcliffe and by 1968 both musicians were choosing to retreat from fame’s glare.. Harrison, a Dylan fan (Blonde on Blonde was the only album Harrison had brought on his 1968 trip to India) went to visit Bob.

The two, unable to resist, took out their guitars and played riffs for each other. Harrison played his still incomplete I’d Have You Anytime and encouraged Dylan to contribute. The two prodigious talents combined and created I’d Have You Anytime which became the  album’s opening track.

Begun on May 26 and completed on June 4, 1970.

George Harrison: vocals, guitar
Eric Clapton: lead guitar
Klaus Voormann: bass guitar
Alan White: drums
Uncredited: xylophone

My Sweet Lord

I really want to be with you.

George Harrison’s recording of My Sweet Lord (26 & 28 May 1970) was not the first one.  In January 1970, he had been working with Billy Preston on his second album, Encouraging Words(a great album that needs its own post). George gave Preston both My Sweet Lord and All Things Must Pass for the album  which would come out two months before Harrison’s.

According to Harrison, he was “just thinking of a way to combine Hallelujah and Hare Krishna…” and that the inspiration was really the Edwin Hawkins Singers Oh Happy Day. Unfortunately, others thought he’d ripped off the Chiffon’s He’s So Fine. 

George Harrison: vocals, backing vocals, slide guitar
Eric Clapton, Pete Ham, Tom Evans, Joey Molland: acoustic rhythm guitar
Billy Preston: piano
Klaus Voormann: bass guitar
Gary Wright: electric piano
Ringo Starr: tambourine
Andy White: drums
Mike Gibbins: tambourine
Bobby Whitlock: vocals
Uncredited: harmonium

Wah-Wah

Wah-wah–you made me such a big star.

A song’s inspiration varies wildly. In January 1969, the Beatles were involved with their Let It Be album. There was a lot of tension. Ringo had already “quit” (in 1968 and come back) and now George decided to do the same.

Obviously, he came back, too, but at home he wrote Wah-Wah.  Harrison ‘s initial reaction after recording the song for his album was disappointment, but other voices disagreed and he grew to like it as well.

Recorded May 27 and 28, 1970.

George Harrison: guitar, vocals, backing vocals
Eric Clapton: guitar
Pete Ham, Tom Evans, Joey Molland: acoustic rhythm guitar
Klaus Voormann: bass guitar
Billy Preston, Gary Wright: keyboards
Ringo Starr: drums
Jim Price: trumpet
Bobby Keys: saxophone
Mike Gibbins: tambourine

Isn’t It A Pity (version one)

Somethings take so long, but how do I I explain?

George had written Isn’t It A Pity in 1966 and considered for inclusion on the Revolver album. It was recorded by the band in 1969 during the Let It Be sessions, but again was excluded.

He had even considered offering the song to Frank Sinatra (who did record Yesterday and Something). 

Rolling Stone Magazine would accuse  the song of borrowing from I Am the Walrus and Hey Jude.  An impossibility, since Harrison had written the song before both songs.

Recorded May 26 and 29 and June 2, 1970.

George Harrison: vocals, backing vocals, slide guitar
Pete Ham, Tom Evans, Joey Molland: acoustic rhythm guitar
Klaus Voormann: bass guitar
Tony Ashton: piano
Billy Preston, Gary Wright: keyboards
Ringo Starr: drums
Mike Gibbins: tambourine

All Things Must Pass

Side Two

What Is Life

What I know I can do; if I give my love to everyone like you

All Things Must PassWhile George Harrison was producing That’s the Way God Planned It, Billy Preston’s first album, he wrote What Is Life for it. In fact, he wrote it in about 15 minutes on his way to Olympic Sound Studios, but Harrison decided it wasn’t right for the album.

He recorded it on May 26, Jun 22 & 23, and July 3, 1970.

George Harrison: vocals, guitar
Eric Clapton: guitar
Pete Ham, Tom Evans, Joey Molland: acoustic rhythm guitar
Carl Radle: bass guitar
Bobby Whitlock: piano
Jim Price: trumpet
Bobby Keys: saxophone
Jim Gordon: drums
Mike Gibbins: tambourine

If Not For You

I’d be sad and blue if not for you.

Harrison recorded Bob Dylan’s If Not For You on May 27 and on June 4 & 5, 1970. It should again be noted how each of the album’s “regular” songs (as opposed to jams) was first recorded on two days: May 26 and May 27, 1970. In fact, it was the last of the 30 songs Harrison demoed. Who wouldn’t have wanted to be around the studio those two days!

By the way, those demos are available on the 50th anniversary release and remastering of the album.

This, though, was not the first time Harrison had recorded the song. He’d been with Dylan in New York’s Columbia Recording Studio on May 8 helping him record the song for his New Morning album.

George Harrison: vocals, acoustic guitar, dobro, harmonica
Klaus Voormann: bass guitar
Gary Wright: piano
Billy Preston: organ
Alan White: drums
Ringo Starr: tambourine

Behind That Locked Door

Please forget those teardrops.

Obviously Harrison and Dylan were close. In August of 1969 when Bob Dylan didn’t play Woodstock but did play the Isle of Wight Festival, Harrison wrote Behind That Locked Door while staying with Dylan on Wight.

Harrison loved the sound of Pete Drake’s pedal steel guitar on Bob Dylan’s Lay Lady Lay so much that Harrison hired Drake to come over and play on Behind That Locked Door as well as a few others.

As impressed as Harrison may have been with Drake, well, let’s let Pete tell the story an interview he did for Guitar Player Magazine. “His name, you know, just didn’t ring any bells-well, I’m just a hillbilly, you know (laughter). Anyway, I ended up going to London for a week where we did the album All Things Must Pass.”

And a second by the way, it was during the recording sessions that Pete met Ringo Starr, who later asked Pete to produce his solo album. It was recorded in Nashville in June of 1970.

George Harrison: vocals, guitar
Pete Drake: pedal steel guitar
Klaus Voormann: bass guitar
Gary Wright: piano
Billy Preston: organ
Alan White: drums

Let It Down

‘Though you sit in another chair I can feel you here.

Let It Down is another example of a Harrison song offered to, but rejected the Beatles.He wrote the song in late 1968 and showed the song to the others on the first day of the Let It Be sessions.

He tried again with the group and the second time included Billy Preston.

The All Things Must Pass album version includes Ringo and Billy, but also includes the nascent Derek and the Dominoes: Bobby Whitlock, Carl Radle, Jim Gordon, and Eric Clapton as well as old friend Klaus Voormann,  Gary Wright (Spooky Tooth), Alan White, and three members of Badfinger.

Specifically:

George Harrison: vocals, backing vocals, guitar
Eric Clapton: backing vocals, guitar
Bobby Whitlock: backing vocals
Pete Ham, Tom Evans, Joey Molland: acoustic rhythm guitar
Carl Radle: bass guitar
Gary Wright: organ
Gary Brooker: piano
Jim Price: trumpet
Bobby Keys: saxophone
Jim Gordon: drums

The Dominoes “deal” was that they’d play on All Things if George allowed Phil Spector to produce some of their album.

Quite the lineup and quite a deal.

The song was demoed on May 27 and the full band recorded it on June 24, 1970.

Run Of The Mill

Everyone has choice, when to and not to raise their voices.

George wrote Run of the Mill shortly after the Let It Be sessions ended. He said of it, “I liked the words…. It was the first song I ever wrote that looked like a poem on paper.”

It was recorded on May 27 & 29 and June 24 & 30.

Many note that the song reflects Harrison’s frustration with the Beatles continued dismissal of his song offerings, yet his acceptance by such as Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton.

George Harrison: vocals, guitar
Carl Radle: bass guitar
Gary Wright: piano
Bobby Whitlock: harmonium
Jim Price: trumpet
Bobby Keys: saxophone
Jim Gordon: drums

All Things Must Pass

Side Three

Beware of Darkness

The pain that often mingles in your fingertips

 

Beware of Darkness was the last song George had written before recording the album and it was still in flux. He’d written it at home when some of his friends from the Radha Krishna temple were staying.

Like the other songs, he’d demoed it, this one on May 27. The group recording occurred on June 22 and 23, 1970 in Abbey Road’s Studio Three.

The song’s big sound is from the fact that there were two drummers, two bass players (Klaus Voorman, Carl Radle), and three guitarists (George, Eric Clapton, and Dave Mason).

Specifically:

George Harrison: vocals, guitar
Eric Clapton: electric guitar
Dave Mason: acoustic guitar
Klaus Voorman & Carl Radle: bass guitar
Bobby Whitlock: piano
Gary Wright: organ
Ringo Starr & Alan White: drums
Uncredited: xylophone

Apple Scruffs

I’ve watched you sitting there–seen the passers by all stare

According to a 2014 article by William Shaw in Rolling Stone Magazine, “The Apple Scruffs were a tiny but intense group of (mostly) young women who gained their name from the thick coats and sweaters they wore against the London cold, and from hanging around the Georgian doorstep of 3, Savile Row, London, the address of the Beatles’ Apple headquarters. This was their meeting place, from the late sixties up to the Beatle’s disintegration and even beyond. Even their names have become semi-legendary over the years: among the circle were the ringleader Margo who later became the Apple tea-girl, Sue-John, the Lennon fan, so called to distinguish herself from other Scruff Sues, Tommy – the gay Brooklynite – who loved the band, but, he told his fellow Scruffs, “not in that way.”

The Beatles Bible site quote’s Bobby Keys from Graeme Thomson’s Behind The Locked Door: “There was always a little knot of them. They weren’t fashion model types, they were just little girls – just kids. He always took time to have a word with them, and I seem to remember him going out with tea for them sometimes when it was cold. I was impressed with how caring he was about these girls. I’ve been around a lot of other folks who have quite a different way of dealing with people, let’s put it that way.”

George appreciated their dedication so much, he wrote this ode to and for them. He even invited those who were outside the studio one July 1970 July day to come in and listen. He told them, “Sit down. I’ve got something to play for you.” He told them the song would be on his album, but left as the song started.

That was George.

George Harrison: vocals, guitar, harmonica
Mal Evans: percussion

Ballad Of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll)

Fools illusions everywhere

I’m sure I had no idea who Frankie Crisp was when I first saw this title and then heard the song. I’d learned with Rubber Soul that lyrics are not what they seem to be, that lyrics are open to interpretation.

Even with the album’s 2021 booklet, I’m still not sure what the connection between the name of the song and the parenthetical title is, but there’s always the fallible omniscient internet

Songfacts saysThis song was inspired by the English lawyer, Sir Frank Crisp (1843-1919), who was the original owner of Friar Park, which Harrison purchased in 1970. A keen horticulturist, he developed spectacular public gardens in his mansion’s grounds.

And that: The lyrics are derived from phrases inscribed around the grounds at Friar Park. The song has been described as a love song to the house made with its own words.

And as you may know already, the album’s cover photo  is George on his Friar Park Estate.

George Harrison: vocals, guitar
Pete Drake: pedal steel guitar
Bobby Whitlock: piano
Billy Preston: organ
Gary Wright: electric piano
Klaus Voormann: bass guitar
Alan White: drums

Awaiting On You All

The Lord is waiting on you all to awaken and see

Despite the fact that the song’s germ simply  began with George thinking, “You don’t need a…you don’t need a…” it took awhile to reach it’s studio delivery on June June 26 in Abbey Road Studio Two. 25 takes.

According to the Beatles Bible:

The first solo outings after the implosion of The Beatles all portrayed the former members’ key interests of the time. For John Lennon it was Primal Therapy and casting off the weight of his past; Paul McCartney celebrated his home life with his new wife Linda; and Ringo Starr performed an album of standards from his childhood.

For George Harrison, the primary quest was for spiritual contentment. He had all the riches and fame one could wish for, but his needs and desires transcended the earthly.

George Harrison: vocals, guitar
Eric Clapton: guitar
Klaus Voormann, Carl Radle: bass guitar
Jim Price: trumpet
Bobby Keys: saxophone
Jim Gordon: drums

All Things Must Pass

Daylight is good at arriving at the right time

The song’s inspiration came from Timothy Leary’s Psychedelic Prayers and Other Meditations in which was a translation of  All Things Pass, a  poem by Lao Tzu.

George also said that When I wrote All Things Must Pass I was trying to do a Robbie Robertson–Band sort of tune and that is what it turned into.”

And in his mind, he heard Levon Helm singing it.

This was another song that the Beatles had rehearsed during the 1969 Let It Be sessions, but not used.

George Harrison: vocals, guitar
Eric Clapton: backing vocals, guitar
Pete Drake: pedal steel guitar
Bobby Whitlock: backing vocals, piano
Klaus Voormann: bass guitar
Ringo Starr, Jim Gordon: drums

Side Four

All Things Must Pass

I Dig Love

But you should give love,  and try to live love

As a Beatle, George Harrison was not a slide guitar player. On December 1, 1969 Harrison attended the  Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett concert at the Albert Hall in London. The following night he joined them on stage in Bristol, for his first stage appearance since The Beatles’ final concert on 29 August 1966.

Before the gig, Delaney handed a slide guitar to George and said, “Oh, you play the slide part.” Dave Mason had played it on their record. And so the slide guitar and what became part of his signature sound from that point on entered his music.

The demo version of the song (May 26, 1969) was more upbeat than the recording they did on June 2.

George Harrison: vocals, guitar
Eric Clapton, Dave Mason: guitar
Klaus Voormann: bass guitar
Bobby Whitlock: organ
Gary Wright: electric piano
Billy Preston: piano
Ringo Starr, Jim Gordon: drums

Art of Dying

There’ll come a time when all of us must leave here

Much of the spiritual basis in George Harrison’s music can be traced back to his Within You and Without You  which appeared on the Sgt Pepper album.  The sound had first been heard on Norwegian Wood

The idea behind Art of Dying, which Harrison wrote in 1966, can be found in The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead by Timothy Leary, Ralph Metzner, and Richard Albert (Ram Das).

George said, “…everybody’s worried about dying, but he cause of death, which nobody can figure out, unless you’re diseased, but the cause of death is birth. So, if you don’t wanna die, don’t get born.”

Art Of Dying is one of the album’s tracks which deployed Spector’s Wall of Sound to its greatest extent. Recording began on 29 May 1970 , but the final version was take 26, taped on 1 July.

George Harrison: vocals, guitar
Eric Clapton: lead guitar
Carl Radle: bass guitar
Bobby Whitlock: piano
Gary Wright: electric piano
Billy Preston: organ
Jim Price: trumpet
Bobby Keys: saxophone
Jim Gordon: drums
Phil Collins: congas

Isn’t It A Pity (Version Two)

After recording Isn’t It A Pity  in various ways, Harrison decided he didn’t like the first more up-tempo version and slowed it down. Later, he revised his evaluation and decided he liked both versions. Thus he included both on the album.

From Beatles BibleThe song was one of the album’s oldest; Harrison wrote it in 1966, found no outlet for it in The Beatles. He attempted to introduce the group to it on 25 and 26 January 1969, towards the end of the Get Back/Let It Be sessions, but to no avail.

Recorded on May 27, June 24, and July 1, 1969.

George Harrison: vocals, backing vocals, slide guitar
Eric Clapton: electric guitar
Pete Ham, Tom Evans, Joey Molland: acoustic rhythm guitar
Carl Radle: bass guitar
Tony Ashton: piano
Bobby Whitlock: organ
Ringo Starr: drums
Mike Gibbins: tambourine

Hear Me Lord

There’s no place that you’re not in

George wrote the song over a weekend and presented it to the Beatles during their Let It Be session on January 6, 1969. The song was declined.

Beatles Bible:  On that date…”He first played the song on an acoustic guitar, then several times on an electric guitar with wah-wah pedal. An attempt at putting forward the song ‘All Things Must Pass’ on the same day was met with similar indifference by the rest of The Beatles.”

Hear Me Lord is the last song on the main part of the album. He did not mention it in his autobiography, I Me Mine, and only performed it live on one known occasion.

George Harrison: vocals, guitar
Eric Clapton: guitar
Carl Radle: bass guitar
Gary Wright: piano
Bobby Whitlock: organ
Billy Preston: keyboards
Jim Price: trumpet
Bobby Keys: saxophone
Jim Gordon: drum

All Things Must Pass

Side FiveOut of the Blue

As if we hadn’t had enough outstanding music from the too-often dismissed George Harrison, the album gave us a bonus third disc: Apple Jam. He wanted it to be considered as a separate part of the whole package and thus had a different label than the first two discs.

As mentioned above, Eric Clapton et al were in the process of creating the album that would eventually become Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs and mainly recorded in Miami, Florida with Tom Dowd and not Phil Spector. Just as the band members had been an integral part of the All Things Must Pass album, George was in the studio with them.

Luckily for us, recording engineer Phil McDonald was around and astute enough to record the jams that the musicians did between doing takes.

On 2 July 1970, he recorded what he labeled ‘Jam 3’ . It would became ‘Out Of The Blue’ and was based around a single-chord riff, and featured an extended solo by saxophonist Bobby Keys. [Beatles Bible]

George Harrison: guitar
Klaus Voormann: guitar
Carl Radle: bass guitar
Gary Wright: organ
Bobby Whitlock: piano
Jim Price: trumpet
Bobby Keys: saxophone
Jim Gordon: drums

It’s Johnny’s Birthday

October 9 is John Lennon’s birthday. On October 7 (1970), George was in Studio Three mixing songs for the album when he recorded It’s Johnny’s Birthday for John.

As much as the relationships among the Beatles had deteriorated,  it is interesting to see George’s acknowledgement of John’s birthday, even if he borrowed the tune from Cliff Richard’s “Congratulations.”

From Beatles Bible: Although originally given a composer credit to George Harrison, the song takes its melody from Cliff Richard’s 1968 hit ‘Congratulations’. In December 1970, that song’s composers Bill Martin and Phil Coulter filed a claim for royalties, and subsequent pressings of the album had the credits amended to acknowledge Martin and Coulter’s contributions.

George Harrison: vocals
Mal Evans: vocals
Eddie Klein: vocals

‘It’s Johnny’s Birthday’ was the only one of the five Apple Jam tracks to feature vocals. The backing track features a fairground organ and percussion backing, although no performer credits are known.

Plug Me In

On June 18, 1970, Phil Spector and George Harrison were in Studio Three with Derek and the Dominoes. It was their first recording session. That day, Phil produced Tell the Truth and Roll It Over which would become the band’s first single. George and Dave Mason were on guitar.

All Things Must Pass

That same day, the jam that became Plug Me In happened.

George Harrison: guitar
Eric Clapton, Dave Mason: guitar
Carl Radle: bass guitar
Bobby Whitlock: piano
Jim Gordon: drums

All Things Must Pass

Side Six

I Remember Jeep

This jam’s recording first began on March 29, 1969 during a preliminary session for Billy Preston’s first Apple album.

On 12 May that year – at which point the track was titled Jam Peace – Harrison, John Lennon, and Yoko Ono overdubbed handclaps at EMI Studios, and Harrison added the Moog part live as the final mix was being done.

Had the song remained titled Jam Peace and credited to the Plastic Ono Band (as it had), it would have been the first Plastic Ono Band recording.

George was later credited and the song’s new title referred to Eric Clapton’s dog.

All Things Must Pass

George Harrison: guitar
Eric Clapton: lead guitar
Klaus Voormann: bass guitar
Billy Preston: organ
Bobby Whitlock: piano
Ginger Baker: drums

Thanks For the Pepperoni

On June 14, 1970, Derek and the Dominoes made their first public appearance at the Lyceum Theatre in London. Dave Mason was the second guitarist, but later Duane Allman would famously become  that person.

This jam was done the same day as Plug Me In, June 19, 1970.

According to Beatles Bible, the title was taken from ‘Religions, Inc.’, the final track on the 1959 comedy album The Sick Humor Of Lenny Bruce.

One of his last comments in the bit was “…and thanks for the pepperoni.” Perhaps it echoes the more famous line that Catskill, NY comedians closed their sets with: “Thank you. I’m here all week. And try the veal.”

George Harrison: guitar
Eric Clapton, Dave Mason: guitar
Carl Radle: bass guitar
Bobby Whitlock: piano
Jim Gordon: drums

All Things Must Pass

Cameraman Alfred Wertheimer

Cameraman Alfred Wertheimer

November 16, 1929 – October 19, 2014

Why is Woodstock Woodstock? That is a question I’ve asked myself many times and so have guests to the Museum at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts.

The biggest festival ever? Pretty big, but no.

The most famous performers ever? Many were, but more were unknown. Some became known from the event.

The peace that prevailed under difficult conditions? Certainly violence would have stymied its positive reputation.

That it occurred in New York, the center of national media? Must have helped, but like any “big” story it fades with the next headline.

Recording/Filming

Woodstock Ventures made the  decision  to record and film the concert. That was quite a financially irresponsible risk given the money pit the festival’s preparations had already put them in, but in many ways it was the album (an unheard of triple disc release) and the film (It received the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. Thelma Schoonmaker was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Film Editing, and Dan Wallin and L. A. Johnson were nominated for the Oscar for Best Sound.

With their releases, thousands more attended the event and say so today.

Film crew

 

NYT obit

LA Times obit

Boston Globe obit

Mike Pisani

 

 

Free University

Free University

Boston Latin School

The idea of free education for all is well-established in the United States, but it has not always been so.

As far back as 3000 BCE, the Greeks had a system of free education for its future priests, but not for other areas.

Here in the United States, on April 23, 1635, the first public school–meaning free to those who could attend was established in Massachusetts Bay Colony in Boston. Known as the Boston Latin School, this boys-only [it did become co-ed 337 years later] public secondary school. The Boston Latin School was strictly for college preparation.  [National Geographic article]

Free University

United States

The idea of free public education for all children was not widespread in the United States until the late 19th century when the government introduced compulsory education as free or universal education, which extended across the country by the 1920s.

The availability of a free university education was rarely a reality. A young adult had to exhibit an outstanding ability and at that point a sponsored scholarship might be granted to reduce partially or entirely the costs involved.

Free University

Cultural Revolution

Free UniversityThe United States, like any society, has gone through many cultural changes. Sometimes the changes are seen as so drastic that the term cultural revolution is used to describe the epoch.

Most would agree during the 1960s, particularly the decade’s latter half, that the United States was in an epoch of cultural revolution. While all disenfranchised groups had always tried to effect changes to allow them a fair chance at achieving the “American Dream,” the 1960s saw an upsurge in those attempts. An alphabet of groups demanded their chances: Asians, Blacks, children, disabled, females, gays, Hispanics,  Native Americans, students, and others.

And while the American Dream remained the goal for most, some saw the goal more of a nightmare and offered alternatives to that dream or alternative dreams altogether.

Free University

Free University 

Some students at tuition-based schools demanded reductions or elimination of tuition, arguing that by the mid-20th century, the importance of a college-level education had become as important as a grammar school education had become at the start of the 20th century.

Others extended that argument stating that not only should universities be free, they should offer more relevant courses.

Free University

Midpeninsula Free University

1966–1971

I Left SF for the Peninsula, and I Don't Miss It | by Christina Bonnington | The Bold Italic

Enter, among others, the Midpeninsula Free University. A college without a campus.  [midpeninsula refers to the middle of the Californian peninsula that San Francisco is the tip of]. It grew out of the Free Speech Movement that had begun with Mario Savio at Berkeley University.

From his MFU site, Jim Wolpman writes: anyone could teach a class. From Marxism—of every ilk—to Non-violence to Encounter Groups to Crafts to Art to Computers to . . . .  It published a handsome, quirky newsletter that printed anything anybody was interested in.  It sponsored be-ins, street concerts, a restaurant, a store, a print shop, and more.  It was heavily into the Anti-War Movement at Stanford. Right-wing bombers attacked it, the FBI kept track of it*, and The Palo Alto Times hated it.  At its best, it was a place—a forum—to thrash out the divergent political and cultural aspirations of those years.  At worst, it was foolish, naïve and self-indulgent.  It may even have corrupted the youth.  It was born of New Left politics, grew to embrace the entire counterculture, and died from a heavy dose of doctrinaire Marxism.

*On November 4, 1968, the Special Agent in Charge (SAC), San Francisco, wrote to Director in Washington, describing the MFU Fall 1968 Catalog and noting 2 courses—Urban Guerrilla Warfare and Marxism-Leninism and the American Revolution—at least one of which was attended by an FBI informant

Free University

Philosophy

From MFU’s spring 1969 catalog:

The system has become rigid; it is no longer receptive to meaningful change. A revolution in American education is required to meet today’s needs, and a new type of education–a free university–must provide the impetus for change

THEREFORE WE AFFIRM:

The freedom of inquiry is the cornerstone of education.

That each individual must generate his own most vital questions and program his own education, free from central control by administrative bureaucracies and disciplinary oligarchies.

that the class character of age in our society subverts education, and that the young are not too young to teach, nor the old too old to learn.

That education is not a commodity, and should not be measured out in units, grade points, and degrees.

That education aims at generality rather than specialization, and should supply the glue which cements together our fragmented lives.

That education is a process involving the total environment, which can only occur in a total community, in which each individual participates equally in making the decisions which importantly affect his life.

That education which has not consequences for social action or personal growth is empty.

That action which does not raise our level of consciousness is futile.

That the ultimate politics will be based on knowledge, liberty, and community, rather than on hate, fear, or guilt.

That the most revolutionary thing we can do is think for ourselves, and regain contact with our vital centers.

That the most important questions which confront us must be asked again and again and answered again and again until the millennium comes.

THAT THE NATURAL STATE OF MAN IS ECSTATIC WONDER.

THAT WE SHOULD NOT SETTLE FOR LESS.

Outside Recognition

In Street of Dreams: the Nature and Legacy of the 1960’s, author Douglas M. Knight [President of Duke University, 1963-69]  wrote of MFU’s free curriculum “These courses, these catalogs are the perfect embodiments of attitudes and approaches which flashed like moonlight on the sea and were lost again, replaced by those mundane, conventional, but less alive patterns to which we quickly returned in the 1970’s. Once again we saw Camelot, crazy and beautiful; once again we lost it.”

At its height, MFU’s enrollment varied between 1,000 and 1,275

Free University

Not Just Classes

From Jim Wolpman’s MFU.com site: It sponsored be-ins, street concerts, a restaurant, a store, a print shop, and more.  It was heavily into the Anti-War Movement at Stanford. Right-wing bombers attacked it, the FBI kept track of it, and The Palo Alto Times hated it. … It was born of New Left politics, grew to embrace the entire counterculture, and died from a heavy dose of doctrinaire Marxism.

Concerts

In the summer of 1969 concerts were run by local high school students and street people, organized, with the help of the MFU, as the “Free Peoples Free Music Company.”

In fact, concerts, however minimally they brought in revenue, helped defray the constant need for finances.

End

But the university just couldn’t sustain itself.

In December 1970, MFU’s Full Circle [MFU’s co-operative coffeehouse-restaurant] went broke and closed it doors.

MFU’s newspaper, The Free You, ceased publication February 1971.

Membership in the MFU plunged from 900 in the winter of 1971, to 70 the summer of 1971.  At which time the MFU was disbanded.

Many thanks to Jim Wolpman for his site and the tremendous amount of information he has collected and provides to interested readers.

Free University

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