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