Friday, August 17, 2012

Woodstock

Woodstock 1969 has successfully held its own for the past forty-three years as one of the most, if not the most, iconic moment in rock history. It started out like many of the festivals of the time. Three days of music with 200,000 tickets up for grabs making that the maximum amount of people that would show up. There was some trouble getting the bands lined up and, more importantly, finding a place to have it but by August 14th everything was in order for the show. By the time the first band took the stage the next day it was apparent that there were far more people there than those who had purchased tickets and eventually, when the flow of the crowd could not be stopped, the concert became a free show that was witnessed by a crowd of anywhere from 400,000 to 500,000 people. In a field in a small town in New York half a million people sat through rain, lack of food and water at times, a scare with brown acid (It wasn't poison though...Wavy Gravy assured everyone of that...and of course it could be tried but perhaps one should only take half a tab), and less than great conditions with the "portable outhouses" to see some of the greatest bands of the time take the stage and to experience something that could never be recreated (no matter how many times MTV tried). Why was it so big? I mean, it wasn't the only show of its kind as far as the length and the bands went. It ended up being free, yes, but it didn't start out that way. The set up was much the same as Monterey two years before it. Was it because so many people were there to witness it, people who eventually had children and then grandchildren that got to hear the stories of those magical three and a half days in Bethel, New York? Maybe. Was it because it was perhaps the last beautiful moment of the '60's and the hippie era in many respects? Could be. But I, for one, don't watch the film or read the stories or look at the pictures and wonder why it was so beautiful, so amazing. I just accept that it was. For one weekend a half a million kids stoned on drugs of all types had themselves a great fucking time and they hurt no one. Half a million people shared a field and instead of battling when things got tough they stuck together. To me, that and the amazing music is all that matters.

I wasn't at the show...at least not in this life. But in a way it changed my life. You see the title of this blog? The 'hippie' might have never been a part of it, and of me, if I hadn't been flipping through channels in June of 1999 and paused for just a moment on a woman singing in such a way that I hit record immediately to capture whatever it was that was on. The woman, of course, was Janis Joplin and the show that was on was the last forty minutes of Woodstock the Director's Cut. That day, in that moment, two important things happened to me. I fell in love with Janis and I decide that hippies, those strange people I had heard about all of my life but had never watched before, were MY kind of people. The clothes, the music, the fact that all of them were fucking crazy enough to go sleep in a field to hear bands they loved...to my twelve year old mind they were the coolest group of people I had ever laid eyes on. And I wanted more.

In time I would find many bands of that time that I love. I would get everything Janis Joplin ever put out. I would fall in love with Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix. And I would write a book about that time and about the fall of its ideals, a book I am still trying to get published and will, I think, one day (hopefully soon). And when I do, any success I ever have from it will all be traced back to that one day when I was looking for something to watch and I found a moment in time that has touched the lives of more than the half a million people who were there. 

I had planned on posting the links to the version of Woodstock, The Director's Cut that I had found on youtube but unfortunately it's been removed. However, if you don't mind watching it very small, I did find a link for a blog post that has the show embedded in its entirety. So, if you are interested, the link is
http://youandianddominoes.wordpress.com/2009/05/22/woodstock-the-directors-cut-documental-online/

If you don't want to see the whole show, I will post some videos of what, to me, where the greatest bands that played starting with Canned Heat's Going Up the Country:








I saved the best for last. ;) Yep, thirteen years later and I am still quite partial to that performance. What can I say? Normal people with normal lives never forget the moment they met their first love. I will take to my grave the first time I saw Janis Joplin sing Work Me Lord at Woodstock with every bit as much fondness and love. haha

Eventually everyone at the show went home and reality came to the whole scene in many ways. Altamont, the deaths of the three of the biggest names in the music scene, the deaths of many more to drugs, the war, and dreams that couldn't be maintained for long, and the truth that until the whole world hopped on the bus there was no way to make a moment like Woodstock last beyond that weekend. BUT for three days there was true magic, music, peace, and a fucking rocking good time. So no matter what people might think of it all now, it was not wasted and it will never be forgotten. :) 







3 comments:

  1. Love all these:)) I think I saw Woodstock about 6 times LOL
    And now my daugther loves Janis Joplin!

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  2. She has good taste. :) There will never be another Janis. I love her so much.

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