Rock's Backpages

< back to list of all episodes

Episode 136 : Richard Goldstein on '60s pop writing + the Shangri-Las + Shadow Morton

19 September 2022

In this episode we welcome the great Richard Goldstein and invite him to relive his days as the Village Voice's "Pop Eye" columnist in the '60s — and his heady experiences in New York and California in that tumultuous decade.

Richard takes us back to his Bronx youth and the early discovery of writers such as Joyce, Dostoyevsky and Voice co-founder Norman Mailer. He also recalls his subsequent exposure to Tom Wolfe and Susan Sontag — both of whom he knew — and explains their influence on his very personal writing style. The second piece he ever wrote for the Voice gives us the chance to discuss that most outré of '60s girl groups, the fabulous Shangri-Las, and to hear clips from Tony Scherman's 1993 audio interview with the trio's mentor-producer George "Shadow" Morton.

From the "Las" we turn our attention to the Byrds and the dawning "rock" revolution Richard chronicled so adroitly. We also discuss his immersion in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury scene — plus the attraction to hippie heroes such as Grateful Dead guitarist Bob Weir that indirectly led to his coming-out and to his militant fight for gay rights as he subsequently rose to the position of Executive Editor at the Voice.

Notwithstanding his marvellous 2015 memoir Another Little Piece of My Heart — frequently cited in this episode — Richard poignantly explains how the deaths of Janis Joplin and others made it almost impossible to write any longer about music.

Watch a video clip from this recording

Many thanks to special guest Richard Goldstein; find him at and buy his books, including Another Little Piece of My Heart, at any good bookshop.