FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

The Year of the Hippie Dream

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.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
August 16, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Uncle Sam was Born Lethal
Jennifer Matsui
La Danse Mossad: Robert Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein
Rob Urie
Neoliberalism and Environmental Calamity
Stuart A. Newman
The Biotech-Industrial Complex Gets Ready to Define What is Human
Nick Alexandrov
Prevention Through Deterrence: The Strategy Shared by the El Paso Shooter and the U.S. Border Patrol
Jeffrey St. Clair
The First Dambuster: a Coyote Tale
Eric Draitser
“Bernie is Trump” (and other Corporate Media Bullsh*t)
Nick Pemberton
Is White Supremacism a Mental Illness?
Jim Kavanagh
Dead Man’s Hand: The Impeachment Gambit
Andrew Levine
Have They No Decency?
David Yearsley
Kind of Blue at 60
Ramzy Baroud
Manifestos of Hate: What White Terrorists Have in Common
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The War on Nature
Martha Rosenberg
Catch and Hang Live Chickens for Slaughter: $11 an Hour Possible!
Yoav Litvin
Israel Fears a Visit by Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib
Neve Gordon
It’s No Wonder the Military likes Violent Video Games, They Can Help Train Civilians to Become Warriors
Susan Miller
That Debacle at the Border is Genocide
Ralph Nader
With the Boeing 737 MAX Grounded, Top Boeing Bosses Must Testify Before Congress Now
Victor Grossman
Warnings, Ancient and Modern
Meena Miriam Yust - Arshad Khan
The Microplastic Threat
Kavitha Muralidharan
‘Today We Seek Those Fish in Discovery Channel’
Louis Proyect
The Vanity Cinema of Quentin Tarantino
Bob Scofield
Tit For Tat: Baltimore Takes Another Hit, This Time From Uruguay
Nozomi Hayase
The Prosecution of Julian Assange Affects Us All
Ron Jacobs
People’s Music for the Soul
John Feffer
Is America Crazy?
Jonathan Power
Russia and China are Growing Closer Again
John W. Whitehead
Who Inflicts the Most Gun Violence in America? The U.S. Government and Its Police Forces
Justin Vest
ICE: You’re Not Welcome in the South
Jill Richardson
Race is a Social Construct, But It Still Matters
Dean Baker
The NYT Gets the Story on Automation and Inequality Completely Wrong
Nino Pagliccia
Venezuela Retains Political Control After New US Coercive Measures
Gary Leupp
MSNBC and the Next Election: Racism is the Issue (and Don’t Talk about Socialism)
R. G. Davis
Paul Krassner: Investigative Satirist
Negin Owliaei
Red State Rip Off: Cutting Worker Pay by $1.5 Billion
Christopher Brauchli
The Side of Trump We Rarely See
Curtis Johnson
The Unbroken Line: From Slavery to the El Paso Shooting
Jesse Jackson
End Endless War and Bring Peace to Korea
Adolf Alzuphar
Diary: What About a New City Center?
Tracey L. Rogers
Candidates Need a Moral Vision
Nicky Reid
I Was a Red Flag Kid
John Kendall Hawkins
The Sixties Victory Lap in an Empty Arena
Stephen Cooper
Tony Chin’s Unstoppable, Historic Career in Music
Charles R. Larson
Review: Bruno Latour’s Down to Earth: Politics in the New Climatic Regime
Elizabeth Keyes
Haiku Fighting
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail