Boomers Were Feeling Groovy

Slang words and phrases rise and fall in popularity during every generation. While some slang lingers on, rediscovered by following generations to breathe continuing life into the vocabulary, others disappear from use and are relegated to the dustbins of history. In this latter category is a slang word from the Boomer Years: groovy.

It is thought that the word had its origins from the phrase, “in the groove,” spoken by Jazz musicians up to three decades before the first boomers arrived on the scene. The phrase described the excellent playing and rhythmic flow of a musician who had tapped into his or her ultimate improvisation. In subsequent generations, athletes riffed on the phrase to describe their peak performance status as, “in the zone.”

For boomers, “groovy” appeared in the early-to-mid-sixties. It was used primarily as an adjective to express a happy, good feeling. Though often associated with Flower Power and the Flower Children of the Summer of Love, there is evidence of its use earlier than that in pop music. Pop music was and continues to be one way that slang words are perpetuated. Mister Boomer has four songs here as examples of the use of the word, groovy. So consider this your Jeopardy! category for the week: songs that have a use or variation of the word “groovy” in the lyrics.

A Groovy Kind of Love
The Mindbenders, 1965

Wouldn’t you agree
Baby you and me
Got a groovy kind of love

Mister Boomer does not know if there was an earlier use of groovy in a song, but this was the earliest he could find. Written by Toni Wine and Carole Bayer Sayer, it was originally recorded by Diane and Annita in 1965. That same year, The Mindbenders, a group that had previously been the backup band for Wayne Fontana (The Game of Love, 1965), had a hit with it. Boomer-era musicians were so enamored with the tune that a series of singers covered it for the next half-decade, including Petula Clark (1966), Mrs. Miller (1966), Patti LaBelle (1967), Sony & Cher (1967), Gene Pitney (1967), and a host of others. Gen Xers probably remember the Phil Colins cover of the song in 1988.

The Young Rascals, 1967

Groovin’ on a Sunday afternoon

The song, with its soulful feel, described a variation of groovy, as if it was a throwback to its origins. This was the last album the band went by the name, The Young Rascals. After that, they used the name, The Rascals.

Reach Out of the Darkness
Friend & Lover (James and Cathy Post), 1967

I think it’s so groovy now
That people are finally getting together

The song peaked at number 10 on the Billboard Top 100. Ironically, the title is never actually sung within the song; rather, reach out in the darkness is the closest it gets.

59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)
Simon & Garfunkel, released as a single in 1967 (B-side) and 1970 (A-side)

Slow down, you move too fast
You got to make the morning last
Just kicking down the cobblestones
Looking for fun and feelin’ groovy
Ba da da da da da da, feelin’ groovy

The song was included on the duo’s popular Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme album (1966), but was never a hit for them on its own. A bit of trivia for you: Two members of the Dave Brubeck Quartet played on the song: Gene Wright (bass) and Joe Morello (drums). Simon & Garfunkel also performed it at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival.

In Mister Boomer’s experience, groovy never made it into the everyday vocabulary in his area; Mister B does not recall a single person saying “groovy”. In his region, neat, the ever-popular cool, or keen was used to describe a a happy, good feeling or something that was terrific.

Did you pepper your speaking with the word, groovy, boomers? What is your favorite groovy song?

One thought on “Boomers Were Feeling Groovy”

  1. I always thought that ‘groovy’ referred to the grooves on a record. I don’t remember using the term, most people said ‘cool’.

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