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Saturday, August 15. 2009
Now I am talking about Woodstock, NY. I was at that dumb thing. I was young, but I did attend that weekend concert with some friends in their van. We did not have the $18 three-day tickets, like most of the people who showed up. The fences and admission booths were long trampled when we got there.
It sucked. I never understood why such a big deal was made of it. Rain, mud, overflowing porta-potties, stoned teenie-boppers, music you could hardly hear. Some of the stoned teenie-bopper girls took off their shirts and danced in the rain while long-haired sociopathic predators prowled all around for a peek, hoping to get stoned and laid in the mud. "Got any grass, man?" Like, really groovy.
We brought our own cooler of food and beer.
We got out of there after 24 hours or so, as I recall. Maybe 36 hours. It was not easy getting out of there on the muddy, rutted dirt road and, at points, you had to drive off the road onto the soggy pastures, but we finally made our escape. People are impressed that I was there, but they are wrong to be. We were just young and foolish, but we recognized a shit show, as they say on Wall St., when we saw one.
Bob Dylan was wise to stay away. Ritchie Havens, as I recall, was pretty good but I do not know why he did Beatles songs. We did not have any pot, but maybe we did. I don't remember, but I never saw the point of it anyway except once. The guys from Sha-Na-Na were my buds from college, so I did not need to hear them. Jimmy Hendrix? I do not recall whether we heard him in the distance. Probably not, but I also heard him live in Bridgeport, CT one time, on the high school football field right behind the jail.
Yes, he was an exciting performer. No doubt about about it.
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I flew over it on Sunday morning, in my Aeronca 7AC. It looked unpleasant, but what did I know.
Funny, all I ever heard was what a wonderful time it was. Everybody was naked and loved each other and shared and didn't mind the rain at all, and it was beautiful, and the music was great. And the only "bad" thing that happened was when Abbie Hoffman go kicked in the head, but anyway that was OK since that was his least vulnerable spot.
Now all I see 40 years later was how bad it sucked and some people even wish they had been in Vietnam instead...OK, maybe that last part is an exaggeration, but just wait another 40 years. For baby boomers, is there a reality that ever existed outside of the instant that they happen to be occupying at whatever the present given moment is? Can't wait for the 40th anniversary of the "25th anniversary of woodstock concert" concert.
If you left early, you missed Jimi Hendrix, he played the final set early Monday morning, the weekend was already over.
There were some very good performances at Woodstock, but most were ordinary. The music-related point of Woodstock was that there was a big cross-section of mostly white performers who were in vogue at that time who did participate, not that there were tons of awesome performances.
I was not there, wrong demographic.
I wasn't there. Wish I had been. Hindsight a wonderful thing when mocking others. Just let me say though, it was real, wasn't it? I mean there were performers on the stage, viewers in the mud, and at the time it was a momentous event for many. What will conservatives or Republicans come up with to equal it? Sure... Woodstock appealed to base emotions and hedonistic thrills. That's the present audience in case you have missed it. Find a way to engage it or chance losing it all. Just saying is all.
The 60's were not what they have been made out to be. I'm sure everyone is shocked, shocked!!!
I couldn't go to Woodstock and wouldn't have gone. I had to work my way through college.
Oh, I did see Hendrix in Bakersfield Calif. My friends had to wake me up so I didn't miss Purple Haze. I was working and schooling and burning both ends of the candle.
No time for the hippie 60's.
What a wet blanket. I bet you were alot of fun to go with. Yea, the heat was terrible and then the rains came and it got cold, but the music was great. Janis Joplin, Canned Heat , Creedence, The Who, Santana, Joe Cockerand then the rain. After the rain came Crosby, Stills, and Nash and The Band. My first time for hearing both. And Hendrix early Sunday morning. There were many things that sucked about the event because the promoters were not prepared for the amount of people that showed up, but the music was great. It was disappointing how bad the sound was in the movie.
Yeah, a real wet blanket, that's me. However, I was able to retire on my own dime at 56 and now split my time between Maui and the mainland. I have no regets about working for what I've acheived and pity those that have wants they believe should be supplied by others.
I didn't get to Woodstock because I was 3000 miles away, but some friends from my hometown did. One, who is now an artist who has exhibited in NYC, said that the mud and crowds depressed her.
I went to Altamont. I was too far away to see the killing. I remember being part of a crowd at a fence, which some were gently pushing, and thinking to myself that as part of a mob I would willingly do things which as an individual might horrify me. (Like the "mobs" at the town hall meetings?)
The Woodstock Festival did not take place in Woodstock, New York but in the town of Bethel which is sixty-seven miles due west. The second day of that mythic, three-day concert coincided with my eleventh birthday (I am going to be fifty-one on Sunday. Yikes! Where did the time go?). I remember quite clearly my friend Tom Finkle and I riding our bikes up to the bridge on South Street that overlooks Route 17 - a four lane highway which snakes its way into Sullivan County where the great event took place. It looked like a long and narrow parking lot. The New York State Thruway had been shut down. To the best of my knowledge, that had never happened before and has not happened since.
To say that it was an exciting time to be alive almost sounds redundant. Less than four weeks earlier, two human beings had walked on the surface of the moon, a technological feat that will probably out shine every other event of the twentieth century in the history books that will be written a thousand years from now. As future decades unwind, it is a certainty that the photographic image of half a million kids, partying and dancing in the mud, will not continue to sustain the cultural significance that it does for us today. The years will pass by, the people who were lucky enough to be there will one day be no more, and the Woodstock Festival will be erased from living memory; a mere footnote to a very crowded century. But what a freaking party, baby!
"If I can't dance, I don't want to be part of your revolution."
Emma Goldman 1869-1940
Dance with me, Emma!
The last time I looked at my videocassette of Woodstock (which was well over a decade ago) I wondered about the fates of the half-a-million gathered on the fields of Max Yasgur's farm in Sullivan County on that distant weekend. The passage of four decades decrees that a third or more of them have passed on. The average age of the attendees was about twenty-two. Today would find them approaching their mid-sixties; the age many of their grandparents were in 1969!
Where I come from, Woodstock has a special meaning to people because it happened here - or close enough to count. From where I now sit, Bethel is a mere forty-two miles northwest. According to this morning's local paper, seventy-five media outlets from all over the world will be covering the events commemorating the anniversary this weekend. That's enough of a reason for me to stay the hell away. I'm not as crowd-friendly as I once was. Besides, I would have preferred to attend the real thing forty years ago. That would have been too cool for words!
Nostalgia is a permanent human condition. Each generation is nostalgic for the last. It absolutely boggles the mind to think that the year 2049 will find those of us who survive looking back on these hideous times with tender longing. Given our silly human quirks, that will probably be the case. Still, it's hard not to reflect on the hope that was prevalent in the summer of Woodstock. We want to believe that there is a magical future where, as John Lennon once imagined, there are no countries; nothing to kill or die for. Maybe we will one day arrive at that wondrous place.
Well, Tom, I am one of those people! A middle-aged, medium-prosperous conservative Christian beer drinker with a talent for chain saws and barbecue grill/smokers and raising kids, who edits an evil, hate-filled, un-American blog named after a Dylan song.
You can't blame the promoters for 500,000 people showing up. That was clearly out of their control. Years ago we suffered a severe ice storm. The electricity went out for a week. several relatives and friends gathered to ride out the hardship. Some bitched and complained and were completely miserable, while the majority had the time of our lives. I suggest that many people when given lemons make lemonade while you sir just make a face and cry about how bitter the lemons are.
BD, This paragraph about “Like a Rolling Stone” is from a book I found in a search. The chapter talks about the influence of Dylan and this song’s impact on the happenings that lead to Woodstock. It’s long, but if you’re interested it’s a good read. I remember hearing the song with no awareness of Vietnam or hippies, but I had the same reaction: It’s okay for me to think? Hard to describe it, but its impact was profound. I find it just amazing that you put the video up with the Woodstock posts. (It is also the title of Maggies' that lead me to this fun, thoughtful, all-American blog. :)
“In 1965 Bob Dylan merged folk music, the music of protest, with rock n' roll, the music of personal freedom. WHAP-BOOM! Drummer Bobby Gregg sat down at his kit in a New York studio one spring afternoon and with a rap on his snare and a thump on his bass, just a little flick of a wrist and a flexing of an ankle, started a revolution. Gregg powered a pick-up blues band as it felt its way for six minutes, meandering at first and then muscling in with more and more certainty, through a poem that Dylan had just put to music as "Like a Rolling Stone." It was an immediate anthem, the embodiment of a generation, the greatest song in American history if greatness is measured in impact as well as quality.”