Now in stores - The Smith Tapes Book!
It's been quiet on the blog, but not behind the scenes– I'm thrilled to announce that the book, as of Nov. 3rd, is now in stores and online. Over 400 pages, 61 interview transcripts with introductions, a comprehensive timeline, plus photos and ephemera found among Smith's reels.
The Smith Tapes: Lost Interviews with Rock Stars & Icons, 1969-1972. Edited by Ezra Bookstein, published by Princeton Architectural Press
1969 to 1972—a period that saw the antiwar movement, the breakup of the Beatles, Woodstock, Black Power, women’s liberation, Kent State, and Watergate—was molded by divisive moments and movements, as the spark of “flower power” was extinguished in the cold shower of broad social upheaval. America was in turmoil, fractured along social, racial, sexual, and political lines. These were years of incredible artistic creativity fueled by the turbulent times, when music and film defined the generation, leaving a high-water mark still evident today.
Enter Howard Smith, journalist for the Village Voice, WPLJ radio personality, and the man Vanity Fair called the “preeminent reporter on the counterculture.” During that tumultuous period, Smith recorded in-depth conversations and candid interviews with scores of iconic and influential personalities. He then left the audio reels untouched in the back of his West Village loft, to be rediscovered decades later.
The Smith Tapes transcribes sixty-one of those recorded conversations—most never before heard—for the first time. Illustrated with original photographs and ephemera found among the reels, this collection illuminates the pivotal struggles of the time, presenting raw and unscripted discussions with musicians, filmmakers, actors, and writers; with politicians, entrepreneurs, and activists; and with countercultural luminaries and everyday revolutionaries. These interviews don’t describe the time, they are the time, and let 1969 to 1972 speak for itself.
“It’s rare that an interviewer helps to shape his era as much as his best-known subjects, but that was the case with Howard Smith. Smith reported from inside the counterculture, which built trust with his subjects, but his intelligence, curiosity, and tenacity take these conversations to places no one could have predicted—even Smith himself. These interviews—with writers, rock stars, filmmakers, politicians—have lost none of their immediacy. Decades later, they remain gripping, essential reading.” —ANTHONY DeCURTIS, contributing editor to Rolling Stone
“Whether it’s John Lennon wrestling with the future of the Beatles, Norman Mailer explaining why he wants to enter politics or James Taylor pondering oncoming fame, Howard Smith’s interviews are vivid, candid snapshots of major cultural and political figures during a tumultuous era in our country. Each conversation in The Smith Tapes is a microhistory of our times.” — DAVID BROWNE, author of Fire and Rain: The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, James Taylor, CSNY and the Lost Story of 1970