Interview with Richard Goldstein


“One must always remember that girls discovered Elvis — little girls discovered Elvis, the Beatles, and the Rolling Stones. And they did not discover Dylan, interestingly enough. I don’t know whether that’s their fault, or Dylan’s.”
– Richard Goldstein

“Who was the first?” continues apace as one of the more boring and unanswerable questions regarding rock criticism, but if anyone can rightly claim the title, it’s Richard Goldstein (unless it’s Jane Scott or Paul Nelson or…), whose “Pop Eye” column turned up in the Village Voice music section in 1966, some years before the Village Voice even had a “music section” to speak of. Never, by his own admission, the sort of critic’s-critic who would end up dominating Voice music coverage under the guidance of (his longtime compadre), Robert Christgau, Goldstein fashioned a criticism modeled on literature, albeit a literature imbued with fannish enthusiasm and revolutionary fantasies. Another Little Piece of My Heart, Goldstein’s recently published memoir of the ’60s, is a great read — a clear-eyed attempt not to explain but to begin to try and grasp a period of personal and social turbulence and joy and heartbreak. On June 17, I talked with Goldstein for just over an hour, about the book and about his relatively brief (three-four year) stint as a rock critic. (Visit Richard Goldstein’s website for further information about his work, including his original Sgt. Pepper review, a gallery of period photos, and a preserved copy of his televised interview with the Doors.)

Part one (memories; Occupy Wall St.; puritanical freedom; doubt…)

Part two (genius and fraud; lit vs. crit; civil rights; charting the intelligentsia…)

Part three (Sgt. Pepper; McLuhan, Marcuse, and Marxism…)

Part four (Velvet wedding; kids these days; coming out at the Voice…)

Back cover of Goldstein’s Greatest Hits: A Book Mostly About Rock ‘n’ Roll (1970)

One thought on “Interview with Richard Goldstein

  1. Really loved the stuff about students responding to the ’60s in part four. As Scott knows—I talk and write about this all the time—this mirrors my own interactions with students very closely. I assume Richard’s teaching university; with me, it’s grade 6 students (11 or 12 years old), but the interest is still there—mildly with most of them, very keenly with a few. This year I had at least three who’d be hanging on every word when I talked about JFK or Kent State or Janis Joplin; I’ll invariably cut the conversation at 10 minutes or so, even though I want to keep going—“Um, okay, we’d better get started on math.” Unless it’s Warhol or Dylan, where I’ll keep going. Two of the things Richard mentions in the podcast are staples for me: a clip of Hendrix at Woodstock every Nov. 27 (his birthday), and either CCR’s “Bad Moon Rising” or “Fortunate Son” on Fogerty’s birthday. There’s nothing I enjoy more about my job than the time I spend on the ’60s (and ’70s).

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