FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Year of the Hippie Dream

by

I visited the San Francisco Bay area this past August. No matter where I went during my visit I was reminded that it was the fiftieth anniversary of the so-called Summer of Love. Most of the reminders were of the commercial kind. In other words, the cultural trappings of that particular cultural moment were being used to sell something. From Trader Joe’s to special craft brews, the marketing was on. I have to admit that I found the advertisers’ use of the art style and the music more appealing than the style prominent today, but the fact remains it was just a capitalist manipulation of the one-time hippie dream.

It is that dream that is the subject of Danny Goldberg’s recently published book, In Search of the Lost Chord: 1967 and the Hippie Idea. Goldberg is a music executive who managed several well-known acts (Nirvana, Warren Zevon, Steve Earle, to name a few) has made a fair amount of money from the culture he discusses in this book. Consequently, that partially defines his current relationship to that culture. It is a relationship defined by a rejection of most of its anti-capitalist elements and a generally non-critical acceptance of the profit motive. To be fair, his viewpoint is considerably more common among those who grew up in the era and were influenced by its culture. Opposite this predominant group are those like the Yippies and other more political types who believe it was the profit motive that was among the forces that changed the culture’s basic ethos of community.

In Search of the Lost Chord (the title is taken from the Moody Blues album celebrating the hippie culture) is a general and lively history of the year 1967 told through Goldberg’s personal viewfinder. As someone who graduated from high school that June, he was the perfect age to participate fully in the hippie summer. His experience was not a full-blown one in that he moved to San Francisco and gave up everything for a new way. However, he went to numerous concerts, read the right books, attended protests and ate his share of LSD and smoked weed. In other words, his experience was one shared by millions of suburban white teenagers in the late 1960s. Indeed, it was that experience which seems to have given him his impetus to make music is career.

Goldberg’s book is what one might call a survey of the period. His narrative skillfully weaves the music, the drugs, the politics and the spiritual searching of the hippie counterculture into a tale that moves quickly and smoothly. While the story is naturally focused on the heart of the hippie culture in San Francisco’s Bay Area, he brings in its other epicenters—Los Angeles, New York, and London—moving back and forth between these cities. In doing this, he brings up the universal similarities of music and marijuana while making clear that there were genuine differences in how hippies in each city experienced the hippie phenomenon. Furthermore, Goldberg’s description of the political elements of the period, while certainly not Marxist in its approach, is one that understands the importance of Marxist and anarchist theory in the New Left. His discussion of the Black freedom movement, although minimal, reflects a similar awareness. The fact that he is more or less a mainstream Democrat today does not mean he was not more radical in his youth.

What Goldberg has achieved in In Search of the Lost Chord is laudable. Not only has he provided his contemporaries with a very readable and fairly wide-ranging look at an important time in their youth, he has also given today’s younger readers a useful and well-told historical survey of a subculture and time they hear about quite often. No matter if they disparage that subculture or try and emulate certain aspects of it, younger folks should find Goldberg’s text a book that not only informs but entertains them as they share his perception of what went down so many years ago. If I were teaching a course on the 1960s to high school or college undergraduates, this would be one of my required texts.

More articles by:

Ron Jacobs is the author of Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture in the Seventies published by CounterPunch Books. His latest offering is a pamphlet titled Capitalism: Is the Problem.  He lives in Vermont. He can be reached at: ronj1955@gmail.com.

February 19, 2018
Rob Urie
Mueller, Russia and Oil Politics
Richard Moser
Mueller the Politician
Robert Hunziker
There Is No Time Left
Nino Pagliccia
Venezuela Decides to Hold Presidential Elections, the Opposition Chooses to Boycott Democracy
Daniel Warner
Parkland Florida: Revisiting Michael Fields
Sheldon Richman
‘Peace Through Strength’ is a Racket
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Taking on the Pentagon
Patrick Cockburn
People Care More About the OXFAM Scandal Than the Cholera Epidemic
Ted Rall
On Gun Violence and Control, a Political Gordian Knot
Binoy Kampmark
Making Mugs of Voters: Mueller’s Russia Indictments
Dave Lindorff
Mass Killers Abetted by Nutjobs
Myles Hoenig
A Response to David Axelrod
Colin Todhunter
The Royal Society and the GMO-Agrochemical Sector
Cesar Chelala
A Student’s Message to Politicians about the Florida Massacre
Weekend Edition
February 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
American Carnage
Paul Street
Michael Wolff, Class Rule, and the Madness of King Don
Andrew Levine
Had Hillary Won: What Now?
David Rosen
Donald Trump’s Pathetic Sex Life
Susan Roberts
Are Modern Cities Sustainable?
Joyce Nelson
Canada vs. Venezuela: Have the Koch Brothers Captured Canada’s Left?
Geoff Dutton
America Loves Islamic Terrorists (Abroad): ISIS as Proxy US Mercenaries
Mike Whitney
The Obnoxious Pence Shows Why Korea Must End US Occupation
Joseph Natoli
In the Post-Truth Classroom
John Eskow
One More Slaughter, One More Piece of Evidence: Racism is a Terminal Mental Disease
John W. Whitehead
War Spending Will Bankrupt America
Robert Fantina
Guns, Violence and the United States
Dave Lindorff
Trump’s Latest Insulting Proposal: Converting SNAP into a Canned Goods Distribution Program
Robert Hunziker
Global Warming Zaps Oxygen
John Laforge
$1.74 Trillion for H-bomb Profiteers and “Fake” Cleanups
CJ Hopkins
The War on Dissent: the Specter of Divisiveness
Peter A. Coclanis
Chipotle Bell
Anders Sandström – Joona-Hermanni Mäkinen
Ways Forward for the Left
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Winning Hearts and Minds
Tommy Raskin
Syrian Quicksand
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma Still Tries to Push Dangerous Drug Class
Jill Richardson
The Attorney General Thinks Aspirin Helps Severe Pain – He’s Wrong
Mike Miller
Herb March: a Legend Deserved
Ann Garrison
If the Democrats Were Decent
Renee Parsons
The Times, They are a-Changing
Howard Gregory
The Democrats Must Campaign to End Trickle-Down Economics
Sean Keller
Agriculture and Autonomy in the Middle East
Ron Jacobs
Re-Visiting Gonzo
Eileen Appelbaum
Rapid Job Growth, More Education Fail to Translate into Higher Wages for Health Care Workers
Ralph Nader
Shernoff, Bidart, and Echeverria—Wide-Ranging Lawyers for the People
Chris Zinda
The Meaning of Virginia Park
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail