Did you have a period of your life when you just felt totally alive? Do you wish you could go back and re-live it? A young man named Greg was able to do just that. He was part of the hippie movement – protesting the Vietnam War, experimenting with drugs, living in the Village, and absorbing the music of the day. For Greg, life revolved around his love of music, his favorite band being The Grateful Dead. Sometime around 1970 he started having vision problems, but did not see a doctor. By the time he was diagnosed with a massive tumor, permanent damage had been done to his brain. Most of the time Greg appeared catatonic and unresponsive. The little he said indicated that he still thought he was living in the 60’s. He was stuck in a time warp as a hippie.
This story is actually just one of seven case studies in the book “An Anthropologist On Mars” by neurologist Oliver Sacks. Each story tells about a patient that Dr. Sacks observed and worked with who was affected by brain injury. In Greg’s case, the tumor damaged his ability to remember things after 1970. But music – specifically music from the 60’s – helped bring him out of his zombie-like state.
Greg’s story was made into a movie in 2011 entitled “The Music Never Stopped”. It went back and forth from the 1960’s to the 1980’s, when he was institutionalized. You could see how his relationship with his father changed dramatically from one time period to the other. As often happens, the movie had some variation from the written account. But the movie so moved me that I watched it twice in 24 hours (and I don’t watch many movies). As of this date – August 1st 2015 – the movie is available for streaming on Netflix, and copies of the book and movie are available through many public libraries across the country.
Updated on April 7th, 2017:
Sadly, Netflix no longer has the movie available for streaming, only available through its DVD service. You can rent it through Amazon for a few dollars. Some public libraries still have it available for checkout, although they are continually weeding out older movies as they add new ones. “The Music Never Stopped” is worth seeking out.
Updated on May 12th, 2017:
“The Music Never Stopped” is once again available to stream at Netflix!