Howard Smith was a man both on the scene and of the scene in late-1960s New York. As a photographer, columnist and broadcaster, Smith immersed himself in the emerging subculture of music and art while maintaining a keen journalist’s eye on the revolution happening around him. The interviews that comprise the set, The Smith Tapes 1969-1972, recently acquired by the Library and Archives, are raw, unedited recordings with those at the forefront of the hippie subculture as well as the era’s rock superstars, including John Lennon, Abbie Hoffman, Lou Reed, the authors of Hair, and Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper talking about their new film Easy Rider.
Within this compelling collection there are some true gems. A USB flash drive – cleverly housed in a replica audio cassette with faux-stained labels – contains a collection of reports from the Woodstock Music and Arts Festival, where Smith describes both the serenity of the fans and the struggle of organizers amidst the rain and near-overwhelming crowds. On one of the final discs in the collection is a brief phone interview with Janis Joplin who, when questioned about the burgeoning women’s liberation movement, initially dismisses it but encourages women not to settle and pleads with Smith to cut anything that might sound offensive. Recorded on September 30, 1970, this was one of the singer’s last interviews before her death, just days later, on October 4th.
To dive into these recordings come visit the Library and Archives, open Tuesday through Friday 9am-5pm, and Saturday 11am-5pm. Click here for more information!