1967 was a pivotal year in American history. The “sixties” was in full swing with Vietnam being a full blown conflict, LSD was penetrating the hearts and minds of an entire generation, rock and roll was taking on new shapes and forms and the hippie movement was maturing into a real ideology.
Danny Goldberg’s new book “In Search of The Lost Chord – 1967 and the Hippie Idea” chronicles the time and culture like nothing else ever written. It takes you through all the wild twists and turns that are now things of legend.
You may know Danny as being one of the great figures in music business history due to his managing of Nirvana, being Steve Earles chief advocate and of course doing PR for a band called Led Zeppelin. Through those experiences he’s developed a refined cultural voice that comes in the form of commentary and astute written analysis. The book, due out June 6th, is not to be missed.
IAH is pleased to offer you an exclusive excerpt from the book. Dig it!
Excerpted from In Search of the Lost Chord: 1967 and the Hippie Idea, copyright 2017 by Danny Goldberg, used with permission of Akashic Books (akashicbooks.com).
FROM THE INTRODUCTION
The word “hippie” morphed from a brief source of tribal pride to a cartoon almost immediately. Ronald Reagan, who began his first term as governor of California in 1967, said, “A hippie is someone who looks like Tarzan, walks like Jane, and smells like Cheetah.”
Most of the mainstream liberal establishment of the time was almost as dismissive. In August of 1967, Harry Reasoner delivered a report for the CBS Evening News in which he referred to the Haight-Ashbury section of San Francisco as “ground zero of the hippie movement.” After an interview with members of the Grateful Dead, Reasoner questioned the premise that hippies were doing anything to make the world a better place: “They, at their best, are trying for a kind of group sainthood, and saints running in groups are likely to be ludicrous. They depend on hallucination for their philosophy. This is not a new idea, and it has never worked. And finally, they offer a spurious attraction of the young, a corruption of the idea of innocence. Nothing in the world is as appealing as real innocence, but it is by definition a quality of childhood. People who can grow beards and make love are supposed to move from innocence to wisdom.”
A similar disdain was prevalent in most liberal circles in Washington. After Timothy Leary and Allen Ginsberg testified in front of the US Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency, Thomas Dodd, the Democratic committee chair, denounced them as “pseudo-intellectuals who advocate the use of drugs in search for some imaginary freedoms of the mind and in search of higher psychic experiences.”
Fifty years later, reading those sanctimonious put-downs reminds me of the revulsion I had for such “respectable” men. For many of us, the idea of breaking the addiction to climbing the ladder of officially sanctioned “success” was not an “imaginary freedom” but a reason to live. None of us felt, individually, that we were “saints,” but we did believe that there was a growing subculture that could come up with a better value system than the one we were born into. We didn’t see “innocence” and “wisdom” as mutually exclusive, and we bitterly resented it when unhappy authority figures insisted on this false choice.
There was indeed a danger from indiscriminately using hallucinogens, but we also knew that for most people they were nowhere near as dangerous as the corrosive effects of legal drugs like beer and gin and tonics, or tranquilizers like Librium, which were inexplicably accepted by many of the same people who were so down on pot and acid—the criminalization of which further eroded the credibility of their authority for many of us.
As for Senator Dodd’s condescending use of the word “pseudo-intellectuals,” he was among the majority of Democrats who sided with the supposedly wise Ivy League “intellectuals” in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations who were responsible for the escalation of the Vietnam War.
– by Danny Goldberg