Abiding Disenchantment & Vexed Concepts

[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.”

– Tom Carson, When Rock Criticism Found its Voice, a review of Devon Powers’s (aforementioned) book on Christgau, Goldstein, and the Voice.


One thought on “Abiding Disenchantment & Vexed Concepts

  1. Thanks for posting this, Scott. I haven’t yet read Devon Powers’s book, of course, but Tom Carson’s full review of it is an incisive summary of the entire phenomenon of the rise and then fall of rock criticism.

    And if I remember correctly, Richard Goldstein found “Sgt. Pepper” overrated right from the start, which has always garnered him a lot of admiration from this The-Beatles-peaked-on-“Rubber-Soul” partisan.

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