David Bowie, circa 1969
In the 1970s the Albion Free State was established, with its own manifesto for the October 1974 general election, on the principle that one route to political and social liberation was the vast expansion of free festivals within Britain. This was the beginning of the ‘traveller’ movement and the emergence of a distinct society operating outside the established society.
The writers of the Free State manifesto wanted to create “a network … of independent collectives and communities federated together to form the Albion Free State.” Life would be organised at local level, by neighbourhoods and workers. The new nation would take over waste land and waste buildings for such purposes as a nationwide network of sites for free festivals throughout the year. For further discussion of this and the general idea of ‘Albion’, see my November 3rd posting on ‘Mysterious Albion’ on my other blog, britishfairies.wordpress.com.
This movement took a hippie idea of the 1960s and honed and focused it into a political concept. If freedom was to be found, it was to be located and constructed beyond existing structures: it dared to imagine other ways of organising and being.
Bowie, in his lyrics below sang that, beneath the London sky, “we walked back to the road, unchained.” William Blake, wandering the unchartered streets of London wrote that:
“In every cry of every Man, / In every Infants cry of fear,/ In every voice: in every ban,/ The mind-forg’d manacles I hear.”
The clear purpose of those children of Albion is to renounce those self-forged chains…
‘Memories of a free festival‘
The song was written for and performed at an open air free festival organised by David Bowie at the Croydon Road Recreational Ground, Beckenham, South London on 16 August 1969
“The children of the summer’s end
Gathered in the dampened grass,
We played Our songs and felt the London sky
Resting on our hands
It was God’s land.
It was ragged and naive.
It was Heaven.
Touch, we touched the very soul
Of holding each and every life.
We claimed the very source of joy ran through.
It didn’t, but it seemed that way.
I kissed a lot of people that day.
Oh, to capture just one drop of all the ecstasy that swept that afternoon,
To paint that love upon a white balloon,
And fly it from the toppest top of all the tops that man has pushed beyond his
Satoria must be something just the same.
We scanned the skies with rainbow eyes and saw machines of every shape and size.
We talked with tall Venusians passing through.
And Peter tried to climb aboard but the Captain shook his head
And away they soared,
Climbing through the ivory vibrant cloud.
Someone passed some bliss among the crowd.
And we walked back to the road, unchained.
The Sun Machine is coming down, and we’re gonna have a party.
The Sun Machine is coming down, and we’re gonna have a party.”