It’s only been in recent times that opening credits for TV shows seem to matter artistically, at least to me. I never gave them much thought and would often just skip them if that was an option. But queue up a wonderful show like Pachinko, based on the 2017 novel by Min Jin Lee, and it’s no longer automatic. It can be its own tiny moment of genius, and in this case, the near-perfect blend of music, image, and sheer joy.
The song in question, written originally in Italian, but made famous by The Grass Roots, is arguably the quintessential expression of 1960s rebellion in pop music form. One could say it doesn’t have the philosophical heft of a CSNY, Beatles, or Simon and Garfunkel lyric, but it wasn’t going for that. It was trying for something more basic, more “physical,” perhaps. The sound itself is just joyous, the refrain a manifesto and warning of sorts. It’s confident in its call to tune-in, drop out, make love, not war. Now. This moment. It’s among the most exuberant, anarchic responses to the world of “plastic people” the young saw all around them in the 1960s, and would have fit in well on the soundtrack of The Graduate too.
That battle for the young, and young at heart, of course, is timeless and knows no country.
I’m a couple of episodes from finishing the Apple TV+ series, and it’s beautifully made and consistently moving. Makes me want to read the novel, and study the tragic history of Japan’s annexation of Korea in 1910. Empire? What is it good for? Absolutely nothing, say it again!