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In Search Of The Lost Chord: 1967 And The Hip­pie Idea

Mojo (UK) - - Contents -

In Search Of The Lost Chord asks whither hippies and ’67? Plus Floyd, Ibiza…

1when967 was the year that smiled, the high point of pop’s cul­tural rev­o­lu­tion youth, mu­sic and pub­lic dis­plays of warmth and plea­sure gave ev­ery­thing a psychedelic glow. The world was anew, “a place where hap­pi­ness reigned … and mu­sic played ever so loudly”, whis­pered a young girl on Traf­fic’s Hole In My Shoe. Who could not be­lieve? Danny Gold­berg’s In Search Of The Lost Chord is fan­ci­fully ti­tled and comes with a raised-text, ‘all about the feel­ing, man’ cover. It’s vivid, pas­sion­ate and told in a warm, Book At Bed­time man­ner. It even be­gins with cosy fa­mil­iar­ity, late in 1965, as The Char­la­tans ar­rive in San Fran­cisco’s bo­hemian Haight-Ash­bury quar­ter. By page 20, it’s Jan­uary 14, 1967, and we’re al­ready in Golden Gate Park wit­ness­ing the Hu­man Be-In. All aboard the Magic Bus to Pep­per­land… But Gold­berg, then a plea­sure-seek­ing 17-year-old drop­ping acid to Coun­try Joe & The Fish, is now on a dif­fer­ent trip. He’s out to dis­cover the gap be­tween dream and re­al­ity in “the hip­pie idea”. And it’s right there at the Hu­man Be-In, the so-called ‘Gath­er­ing of the Tribes’, which be­gins with monk­ish poet Gary Sny­der blow­ing into a conch shell and con­tin­ues with left ac­tivist Jerry Ru­bin ha­rangu­ing the crowd. Then came the rock’n’roll bands. Dif­fer­ent tunes ev­ery­where. “In the eyes of the coun­ter­cul­ture,” Gold­berg writes early on, “the ‘es­tab­lish­ment’ had cre­ated a ma­te­ri­al­is­tic and in­hib­ited so­ci­ety that trapped many of our par­ents, a so­ci­ety which we, with the help of The Bea­tles, were de­ter­mined to change for the better.” In 1967, tan­gi­ble ev­i­dence of that change was ev­ery­where. A rev­o­lu­tion in sound, fash­ion, ar­got and any­thing else that the use of LSD could turn up­side down, blew through the Western world. But Gold­berg, later a lead­ing mu­sic in­dus­try ex­ec­u­tive boss­ing ma­jor la­bels and steer­ing Nir­vana through their strato­spheric years, is out to find all that he missed first time round. As one would ex­pect, he finds “the moral im­per­a­tive to fight for civil rights and against the [Viet­nam] war”, spir­i­tu­al­ity, and a shared re­vul­sion of all things ‘plas­tic’. From the seed of dis­con­tent be­tween the tribes at the Be-In, a nar­ra­tive un­folds that calmly lays waste to the delu­sion that 1967 was in any way Eden Year Zero. Shin­ing a torch into ev­ery countercultural cor­ner, Gold­berg re­veals a kind of war­fare. Even Martin Luther King, the era’s pa­tron saint of non­vi­o­lence, got short shrift. King, who pre­ferred a suit and tie to a kaf­tan and beads, was largely in­vis­i­ble among the lost chord seek­ers and dis­missed as “too Sun­day school”. For­get about Scott McKen­zie. The Hip­pie Idea jour­neys into more per­ilous ter­ri­tory than any punk rock chron­i­cle could ever do. When Jef­fer­son Air­plane record an ad for Levi jeans, they’re soundly chas­tised. But re­crim­i­na­tions on the rock scene are noth­ing com­pared to the sce­nar­ios of rage, vi­o­lence and para­noia that un­fold among the ever shape-shift­ing coun­ter­cul­ture. De­spite it all, Gold­berg main­tains that good came out of an ex­traor­di­nar­ily dif­fi­cult era and re­turns to Jack Ker­ouac for his con­clu­sion. “Walk­ing on wa­ter wasn’t built in a day,” cau­tioned the Beat guru. But, Gold­berg twin­kles, he didn’t say it could never hap­pen.

Highly read­able dis­sec­tion of a re­mark­able year. By Mark Paytress. “SHIN­ING A TORCH INTO EV­ERY COUNTERCULTURAL COR­NER, GOLD­BERG RE­VEALS A KIND OF WAR­FARE.”

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