If you’ve read “Fatal Vision” or any of the books criticizing Joe McGinniss’ acclaimed account, you’re familiar with Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald, who was accused and convicted of murdering his pregnant wife and two young daughters in 1969. (I think there was also a TV movie on it.) According to MacDonald, the murders were committed by a bunch of drug-crazed hippies, who wrote “Pig” on the wall in Mrs. MacDonald’s blood. According to Jeff MacDonald, the female hippie chanted, “Acid is groovy,” among other things.
I was 13 when news of the murders came out. Remembering the Tate-LaBianca murders which had happened a short time before, I thought, “Wow! That’s heavy! Hippies are supposed to be all about peace and love!” But when details of the murders were reported, and my friends and I heard that one of the alleged killers (according to MacDonald) said, “Acid is groovy,” we had to laugh. Though it may not seem like it now, “groovy” was, in my recollection, a slang term with a very short life span. By 1969, I didn’t know a single young, hip person who still used the term.
In fact, as I recall, by 1969, the term was used primarily by 1) Sitcom writers and cartoonists, few of whom were young and hip, when writing dialogue for young, hip characters 2) Song writers, like The Turtles, who were trying to find a rhyme for “movie” (in “Eleanor”) and 3) members of the Establishment who were trying to establish their hipness and were painfully out of date. The song “Workin’ On a Groovy Thing” was a hit in 1969, but it was probably written earlier, was sung by the popular-but-not-cutting-edge-hip Fifth Dimension (I liked them, but come on, they opened for Frank Sinatra–a great singer, but pretty Establishment.) and it was written by Neil Sedaka, also not exactly a hippie.
OK, so as soon as my friends and I heard MacDonald quoting that “Acid is groovy” line, we laughed, and our immediate reaction was, “He’s LYING!” Not exactly enough to convict, and further reason why teens aren’t allowed to serve on juries.
So how wrong was my pubescent thinking on this topic? How long did the term “groovy” actually remain in the lexicon of truly young, truly hip people? (I know “groovy” experienced a recent upsurge in popularity; I’m not referring to that.) I don’t want to open up the whole topic of MacDonald’s guilt or whether McGinniss overstepped journalistic bounds. I just want to know about this “groovy” thing. Did anyone else who was around and old enough to understand the case think the term “groovy” was oddly out of date?
This has bothered me for years.