Before the morning after

It’s been a long and winding road for Maureen McGovern.

From aspiring folk singer to pop queen of movie themes, the Broadway star, cabaret darling and Grammy-nominated recording artist has been a-changing with the times.

The Youngstown, Ohio, native came of age musically in the era of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Judy Collins and other singer-songwriters who showed a generation how the power of music could change the world.

In her latest CD release and her act at The Rrazz Room at Hotel Nikko, McGovern reinterprets the musical messages of that era. The San Francisco engagement is an abridged version of a show she will tour later this year.

It is not, McGovern says, “a museum piece. We want to explore why these songs are timeless and how they are relevant for us today.

“People have been asking me for years to do a ‘baby boomer’ show, which really didn’t interest me, but looking at the songs that changed our generation and gave us hope for a better world did. And God knows, we need some hope in the world today. I got together with Phillip Himberg, a dear friend who directed me in several productions at Sundance, and we made a list of a couple of hundred songs that reminded us of that highly charged, formative time — the ’60s — which, for any baby boomer, is fascinating for all its lunacy, political activism, frivolousness and for the profound changes that happened in the world.”

What surfaced was the spine of a show that is partly autobiographical, taking a musical arc from the early ’60s to the point where McGovern joined the continuum with her breakthrough hit, the Oscar-winning “The Morning After” from “The Poseidon Adventure.”

Researching the material has been a journey in itself, full of resonance and remembrance for the self-described “58-and-a-half” year-old singer.

“I was reading the lyrics for Bob Dylan’s ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’ and just burst into tears” she remembers.

“My father, who was my idol all my life, was a D-Day vet and by the time I was a sophomore in high school, we were having daily battles over the Vietnam War. He died a few years ago and I remember that he was so opposed to this [Iraq] war and felt that we had lost our way. So it was very interesting to come full circle with him in sharing a belief; 1968 and 2008 are such mirrors. That was a time when everything was so fresh and new and we had such potential, such idealism and such hope. I think we’re in a time in history where we need to pull in the reins and focus on making change. Society cannot progress without hope.”

IF YOU GO

Maureen McGovern

Where: The Rrazz Room, Hotel Nikko, 222 Mason St., San Francisco

When: 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, 7 p.m. Sunday

Tickets: $45 to $55

Contact: (866) 468-3399 or www.ticketweb.com

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