Thursday, August 27, 2009
Woodstock turned 40 last Saturday, an event whose culture, or social, significance went past music, thus giving it an iconic luster.
Actually, someone says that forty years ago, Max Yasgur’s farm was overrun by mud, musicians, and beatniks. Yes, it was three days of peace and music’ but it was also three days of drugs, chaos, and not enough bathrooms.
The drugs and chaos and lack of bathrooms were not part of the downside of Woodstock, they were part of its charm. Yes, charm, including the drugs, which were not yet the brain-frying chemical types that would flourish through America in the 1970s. But the chaos and lack of bathrooms, you can’t have a better metaphor for going back to nature than that. It might have made for a lot of s--t, but it did not make for a lot of bull.
Many have a special fondness for Woodstock, mainly because it goes beyond seeing Carlos Santana and the others in all their youthful and ragged glory—or Jimi Hendrix frozen in time,(a platform Elvis and Michael Jackson may not share)—which makes a lot the 60’s generation feel young again – like AA who always felt young anyway, even as his joints ache on cold days or Sid's , who's wrist turn into a map of hills and valleys from gout. I'm just kidding, like me they were so young then to have witnessed Woodstock, but we live through the music of that era. Some people have Camelot. That generation has Woodstock.
Woodstock I believe was the culmination of a period that longed, and strove, to change the world. We do not have to imagine John Lennon’s “Imagine,” we have only to look at Woodstock. That was “Imagine” in real life, or in living color, as Sony TV used to brag in those days.
Woodstock starts with music and ends with music. The music is etched forever by Santana, Joan Baez, several months pregnant, Crosby, Stills, and Nash. But above all, and this is AA’s favorite, Jimi Hendrix. His guitar wailing out the strains of the “Star-Spangled Banner,” his fingers becoming a blur, transforming into the sounds of screaming jets and screaming children, the bombs bursting in air, giving proof clear as day, of what America had become in Vietnam.
That was Woodstock.
Can you remember that era and the music of that time?