15

When Shadow is trying to tell Wednesday about his dream with the thunderbirds, Wednesday gets quite angry and then says they're heading to San Francisco:

"I dreamed of thunderbirds...," said Shadow. "And a tower. Skulls..." It seemed to him very important to recount his dream.
"I know what you were dreaming. Everybody damn well knows what you were dreaming. Christ almighty. What's the point in hiding you, if you're going to start to fucking advertise?"
Shadow said nothing.
There was a pause at the other end of the telephone. "I'll be there in the morning," said Wednesday. It sounded like the anger had died down. "We're going to San Francisco. The flowers in your hair are optional." And the line went dead.
American Gods: The Tenth Anniversary Edition, chapter 11

What does the line "the flowers in your hair are optional" mean? I presume it has something to do with the fact that Shadow was "advertising" where he was, but I'm not quite sure exactly what this is supposed to be implying.

39

It is a reference to the song ‘San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear [Some] Flowers in Your Hair)’. Written by John Phillips and performed by Scott Mackenzie, it was one of the best-selling singles of the 1960s and has been called the unofficial anthem of the counter-culture movements of that decade.

If you're going to San Francisco
Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair
If you're going to San Francisco
You're gonna meet some gentle people there

Whether there is a deeper significance to the reference in the book, I can’t say.

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  • They are going to spring festival (Easter festival, actually), a festival of rebirth and end of winter. When snow melts and spring flowers come out. That's about it. – jo1storm Aug 26 at 13:22
  • I wasn't aware of the song, but I interpreted this as a reference to the 1960s, but more specifically it was Wednesday hinting that they would be meeting the goddess Easter in San Francisco – Kryten Aug 26 at 17:44

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