A reminiscence of the time that brought us Sgt. Pepper and the Summer of Love.
The year 1967 was D-Day for the counterculture, when granny glasses and acid dreams flooded into the larger consciousness and the larger society outside San Francisco and London. It was also the year when the San Francisco anarchist collective called the Diggers would proclaim the “Death of Hippie,” claiming that much of the whole business was really the creation of the media. Goldberg (Bumping into Geniuses: My Life Inside the Rock and Roll Business, 2008, etc.), no stranger to media creations himself as a music executive, was on the ground then and in full-tilt nostalgia mode now. “If I could time travel back to 1967,” he enthuses, “there is no question that I would begin in the Haight-Ashbury section of San Francisco.” The year was more than lice, tea, and free love, of course; there was the creep scene of Vietnam, for instance, to spoil the party. Still, Goldberg’s tone is almost always upbeat, a free-form festival where Nureyev and Quicksilver hang out here and Paul McCartney jams with Jefferson Airplane there. (A minor bummer: “the left-handed McCartney had a hard time playing [Jack] Casady’s bass.”) Goldberg’s approach is sometimes dutiful, and he doesn’t add much, apart from personal anecdotes, to his descriptions of well-known events and people. Readers won’t emerge knowing anything more about the likes of Timothy Leary or Abbie Hoffman than before, apart from the fact that Hoffman, “an old man of thirty in 1967,” had a nicely subversive “twinkle” in his eye. But Hoffman was not as old as Buckminster Fuller, of course, who was “brimming with futuristic visions, which he expressed with machine-gun verbal intensity.”
No substitute for more serious histories of the era but a genial you-were-there memoir of a golden age.