Matala Hippies Stories
In the 1960s the Matala caves were occupied by hippies. Joni Mitchell’s song Carey from 1971 is from her experiences living in Matala for 4 months 1969.
Matala today is a completely different place than the one from the time of hippies, its still a small village, a nice bay formed the sandy beach, tavernas, cafes including the famous Mermaid cafe.
Oh, you know it sure is hard to leave here Carey
But it’s really not my home
My fingernails are filthyI’ve got beach tar on my feet
And I miss my clean white linen and my fancy French cologne
Oh Carey get out your cane (Carey get out your cane)
And I’ll put on some silver (I’ll put on some silver)
Oh you’re a mean old Daddy, but I like you fine
And I will buy you a bottle of wine
And we’ll laugh and toast to nothing and
Smash our empty glasses down
Let’s have a round for these freaks and these soldiers
Around for these friends of mine
Let’s have another round for the bright red devil,
Keeps me in this tourist town
Joni Mitchell’s Matala, Crete
Joni Mitchell was born in Canada in 1943 and moved to New York as a young folk singer. After a few years in New York, Joni Mitchell took to wandering around France and Spain, finally landing in Matala, Crete. It was a tough time politically, with the Greek military junta in power. After 4 months on Matala, Mitchell found she was homesick, but the time spent living in the caves obviously made its mark on her memory, with many of her experiences included in the song Carey.
In a 1971 interview with Rolling Stone, Mitchell described her stay on the island.
Matala was a very small bay with cliffs on two sides. And between the two cliffs, on the beach, there were about four or five small buildings. There were also a few fishermen huts. The caves were on high sedimentary cliffs, sandstone, a lot of seashells in it. The caves were carved out by the Minoans hundreds of years ago. Then they were used later on for leper caves. Then after that, the Romans came, and they used them for burial crypts. Then some of them were filled in and sealed up for a long time. People began living there, beatniks, in the fifties. Kids gradually dug out more rooms…
Hippie! Hippie! Matala! Matala!
The ERT S.A. company produced a great documentary film Hippie! Hippie! Matala! Matala! interviewing locals and hippies who lived and was in Matala in the 60’s and ’70s including the famous and popular George (Yiorgis) the local fisherman-hippie.. This is good fun!
Made by Maria Koufopolou. Thank you!
Facebook link Hippie Hippie Matala Matala
These are the stories of the young people that visited Matala in the sixties and seventies, by Elzo Smid
Elzo Smid visited Matala in 1996 for the first time. “I was told that in the sixties dropouts and hitchhikers from Europe and the USA settled here and formed a community in the caves”.
Matala Summer Festival
Some years ago in the summer of 2011, the Mayor of the region initiated a festival on the Matala beach to celebrate the launch of the ‘Myth of Matala’ book featuring photos of the hippie cave residents during the 60s & 70s. It was a hippie reunion. 35,000 people heard about it and flocked to Matala beach. In 2012 over 58,000 people visited the festival weekend. Matala with a great beach location, free music, and art events for all ages throughout the week and a big hippie love-in vibe the Matala Beach Festival should continue to delight visitors to Crete.