[Goldstein] was and presumably still is a man whose capacious enthusiasms leave him vulnerable to big disappointments. He was so disenchanted with Utopia’s failure to materialize that he bailed on being a rock critic six months before Woodstock. Not many people today even remember he was one, let alone the earliest influential one. Voice readers of my generation probably associate him far more with the paper’s determined and valiant pro-gay advocacy in the ’70s and ’80s, his main beat after he came out himself.
Yet Goldstein did a lot to define and articulate not only rock’s most radical aspirations, but — crucially — the abiding terms of disenchantment. The vexed concepts he wrestled with — “authenticity,” “commercialism,” and so on — were still bedeviling Kurt Cobain two decades later. I’d never realized how much he created the template for the trajectory of idealism and disillusionment I and many others retraced when, in our case, the Great Punk Rock Revolution went pffft. But you can just as easily fill in “When the Beatles broke up,” “When Al Green found Jesus” — or “When Kurt Cobain died,” come to think of it. Later generations would learn to disguise how much it hurt every time by making jokes about jumping the shark.”
Archive for the ‘Richard Goldstein’ Category
Posted by s woods on May 6, 2013
Posted by s woods on May 2, 2013
Pitchfork: The first column at The Voice to do this with music was Richard Goldstein’s “Pop Eye”. He wasn’t there for very long, but he developed a unique way to approach music intellectually and enthusiastically at the same time.
DP: Goldstein started writing at The Village Voice in 1966, after finishing his masters in journalism at Columbia. He wanted to write about pop with a capital P: It’s mass culture, it’s democratic, but at the same time, it can be cunning, smart, tongue-in-cheek. At this point, no one else was taking that approach. You can see a juxtaposition with Crawdaddy, which was Paul Williams’ publication. Where Williams really just wanted to be serious, Goldstein wanted to be meta. He was friends with Bob Christgau and Ellen Willis, and they’re starting to figure out, “How do we develop a new language for talking about music?”
Pitchfork: One of the fascinating and, in a way, tragic things about Goldstein’s story is the identity crisis that he developed in public through his writing. At first, he embraced pop. But he quickly started resenting its commercialization and valorizing the underground.
DP: The “underground” is an idea that Goldstein is key in developing. Not to say that there weren’t people covering things out of the limelight before, but he’s central to the use of the word “underground” and this idea that there is a submerged culture happening on its own terms. At first, Richard gets very fired up about the possibilities of pop to radically reinvent society. Remember, it’s the 1960s, so we’re talking about the beliefs of the counterculture for world change. All of this infuses him and his writing. Very quickly, though, he gets jaded, as I think many people in their late 20s can relate to. But also, when we think about rock in the 60s getting completely commercialized, we don’t realize that it happened in the span of 28 months, really. The big money started falling in, which has an ironic relationship to the music. It helps the music to spread but at the same time, especially for somebody who was on the ground observing it, it could be a very depressing change.
Eric Harvey interviews Devon Powers about Writing the Record: The Village Voice and the Birth of Rock Criticism, which I just ordered this morning. I’m probably looking as forward to the telling of Goldstein’s place in all this as I am to Christgau’s, given that I really know only the most obvious, scant details about RG. (There’s also the recent news to consider that Christgau is releasing a memoir of his own.)
Posted by s woods on January 24, 2013
Nice–Nik Cohn reviews Abbey Road in The New York Times, Oct. 1969. After praising the medley on side two (“there are maybe 15 tunes in as many minutes — all of them instantly hummable, all of them potential hits”), Cohn laces into the rest of the disc: “…the words are limp-wristed [er, ouch--Ed.], pompous and fake. Clearly, the Beatles have now heard so many tales of their own genius that they’ve come to believe them, and everything here is swamped in Instant Art.” Elsewhere: “The badness ranges from mere gentle tedium to cringing embarrassment. The blues, for instance, is horribly out of tune, and Ringo’s ditty is purest Mickey Mouse.”
cf. (if you can find it–I had no luck online) Richard Goldstein’s takedown of Sgt. Pepper, also published in the NYT just two years earlier. From what I recall, Goldstein’s response to SPLHCB was much more hedged, but then, Goldstein himself was a much more hedged critic than Cohn (who wasn’t?). Goldstein’s piece sparked a wave of controversy (apparently), but this is the first I’ve even heard of Cohn’s review. What a difference two years makes?