Woodstock

As I’m sure you’ve heard more than once over the weekend, it’s the 40th anniversary of the Woodstock festival – originally due to be billed an “Aquarian Exposition”, but eventually labelled a much more suitable “Three Days of Peace and Music” instead – which took place on a dairy farm in the rural town of Bethel, New York between 15 and 18 August 1969 – some 70 miles away from Woodstock.

Close to half a million people turned up, although it wasn’t meant to be a free concert; organised by hippie capitalists who had sold about 200,000 tickets before declaring it open to those who were forcing entry anyway.

I’ll be very surprised if you haven’t heard something about it recently, so I ask you two things:

1. Which were your favourite performances from this historic event?

There were more than 200 songs, starting with Richie Havens and ending with Jimi Hendrix. The Who (the fringe-shirted Roger Daltrey being one of the festival’s most lasting images, surely), performed 24 of them.

Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young performed ‘Find the Cost of Freedom’ – as did David on his last tour, with David Crosby and Graham Nash – as part of a 16-song set split between acoustic and electric guitars.

Stand-out performances for me were:

– Joan Baez, ‘We Shall Overcome’
– The Band, ‘The Weight’
– Joe Cocker, ‘A Little Help From My Friends’
– Creedence Clearwater Revival, ‘Born on the Bayou’
– Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, ‘Long Time Gone’
– Jimi Hendrix, ‘Star-Spangled Banner’
– Jefferson Airplane, ‘White Rabbit’
– Mountain, ‘Southbound Train’
– Sly & the Family Stone, ‘I Want to Take You Higher’
– The Who, ‘See Me, Feel Me’

I’d also like to know what you think about Woodstock in general.

Nobody can argue that it symbolised the tremendous hope of a generation during a time of rioting, violence, racial unrest and unjust war.

Yet perhaps, as the New York Times suggested, it was also “a prime example of how coddled the baby boomers were in an economy of abundance. The Woodstock crowd, which arrived with more drugs than camping supplies, got itself a free concert, and when the people responsible could no longer handle the logistics, the government bailed them out. Some people took it upon themselves to help others; many just freeloaded.”

Is this fair… or even surprising? I mean, isn’t that what always happens? The close-to-half-a-million were mostly white kids who could afford to take time off work or college to listen to music and get high. As more youthful cynics are quick to point out, such a large part of the so-called Woodstock Generation would go on to sell their souls and build the exploitative world in which we live today. And if they didn’t build it, they allowed its construction, prospered from it, enriched themselves from its many evils – evils they once rallied against. There have been other unjust wars since Vietnam, more people killed at protests, more racially-motivated police brutality. So, what did Woodstock achieve exactly?

We discussed the significance, and also the disappointments, of Live Aid recently. For those born after the Sixties’ passing, Live Aid was this generation’s Woodstock (as Joan Baez declared from the Philadelphia stage), and that had a clear purpose, didn’t it? It was to raise money to feed the starving in Africa. What was Woodstock really about? Where was its direction? Did it even have one?

Perhaps all that should matter is the music and the scene, the latter, at least, has never been successfully repeated (the music has often; even musicians on the Woodstock bill admitted that their performances were below-par). Now concert-going is all about numbers: how much you pay (not least in assorted fees) for a numbered seat, to park your car, to drink an over-priced beverage from a plastic beaker and to be a part of a not-quite-but-almost homogeneous mass, where those demonstrating the greatest show of wealth may sit in the front, with the less comfortably off straining their necks to see from the back. They rarely take place out in the open any more, instead they’re usually held in bland arenas with familiar corporate logos emblazoned across every available flat surface.

It’s no wonder the ‘baby boomers’ are so nostalgic – some might even say smug – about Woodstock. Wouldn’t you have liked to have been there?

Some might even say it’s no wonder that Woodstock ’99 ended the way it did.

So, my second question.

2. Undoubtedly, the Sixties had a remarkable influence culturally, but was Woodstock yet another over-hyped piece in an over-valued tie-dye puzzle? Wonderfully idealistic, jolly good fun, yet rather… pointless?

(Yes, I’ve been away for a week, so I’m trying to get a reaction out of you.)

Author: FEd

Features Editor of David Gilmour’s official blog, The Blog (‘Features’ previously being its rather naff title), affectionately – or lazily – shortened to ‘FEd’.

84 thoughts on “Woodstock”

  1. For me, two performances will always symbolize Woodstock. The first is Richie Havens’ “Freedom,” the opening song. He sings it with such intensity and the words themselves are so powerful and evocative. I heard him play a few years ago in Portland Oregon and he is a captivating performer, one guy with an acoustic guitar whose presence casts a spell!

    The second performance that epitomizes Woodstock is Jimi Hendrix with “Star Spangled Banner.” This was an American event and even though much of the fuel was our involvement in Vietnam — the first time the horrors of war entered the national consciousness and people were angry with their government because of those horrors — we were still America and proud of what we stood for. America, though not perfect, was great.

    How things have changed today. We are a nation divided and are no longer united behind a cause, no longer proud of ourselves in the same way. We have lost something in this time, something important. The sense of who we are, the feeling that we’re in it together, the hope that we can change the world.

    America will never be the same, and Woodstock can never be repeated. That’s too bad. I would have loved to be there, for the music as well as the love and peace. What a magical moment in time.

  2. Though I was already born by the time Woodstock took place, all I know about the event is what I’ve read and heard about it. And everybody who’s 60 years old or more has the best memories to tell. Nobody denies the problems they found there or to get there but everyone’s sure it’s an experience impossible to repeat.

    You’ve mentioned the Live Aid concert as a parallel. Here in Brazil we have the very first Rock in Rio to compare. Neverthless the mud, the lack of food and drink, the difficulties in transportation, everybody who’d been there has only good memories about the gigs.

    The message left from both situations is that we cannot repeat any historical fact. But they become important facts when they are not create to make history. Being just a part of it – even if we’re just part of the same generation, bring us different impressions that change our lives forever. No matter how. 😉

    1. Oi, Selminha! Rock in Rio was indeed a magical event for us fans. The environment is everything. Concerts must be tuned as best as one guitar playing. Organization is the key word.

      Please send my blessings to Dave, his family and Selminha Boiron – who’s made history! 🙂

  3. 1. Jimi Hendrix!
    2. “I was born in ’63, got a little job in the factory, dunno much about Kennedy…” Warren Zevon (RIP).

    Yes, all of your suggestions are true, but a happening is never pointless. It changed peoples live, it affected peoples lives, some in a bad way, but hope the positive vibe is bigger, much bigger.

    This weekend we, my kids (13 and 18 and his girlie of 16) went to a folk festival, colourful and peaceful people in a relaxed atmosphere. And we spoke about the atmosphere, we watched, were amazed, listened to the music, although they weren’t all our tunes, we were dazzled by the colours, we enjoyed it, we (my wife and I) sung along with punk covers in a folky acoustic way (Bad Shepherds), saw people smiling, we met some interesting people and yes, I think they got some extra luggage… so yes, Music can be a change…

    “Music doesn’t lie. If there is something to be changed in this world, then it can only happen through music.” – Jimi Hendrix

  4. Woodstock was nothing more than another event without a purpose. It was the time of free love and hanging out. It was a time of discovery. “Check out this cat Jimi with the guitar and see what he can do with it or how about the Who, I never thought I would enjoy something that loud, man.”

    It reminds me of the scene in the movie Good Morning Vietnam where Robin Williams is trying to play some modern music and gets reamed out by the superior stating he shouldn’t play that weird stuff, Percy Faith is fine though.

    Woodstock was just another venue of discovery and mind you, not all festivals like that worked out well. Look at Altamont.

    Your comment: “The close-to-half-a-million were mostly white kids who could afford to take time off work or college to listen to music and get high.” Not exactly fair as the event was staged in August when typically there are no college classes. So they were not taking time off, they were off. As for taking time off of work, August is also a very popular vacation month. And face it, the music that was being played was not exactly the type of music that would have black people coming out en masse. But your point about many attending “selling out” later in life is very valid.

    I’m more curious if anyone reading this blog actually attended Woodstock or was conceived or born at Woodstock 40 years ago.

    Thanks.

    Andrew

    1. Not exactly fair as the event was staged in August when typically there are no college classes. So they were not taking time off, they were off. As for taking time off of work, August is also a very popular vacation month.

      Fair point, but would it have been different had it taken place in, say, June? I don’t think it would have made any difference to the audience because it was such a massive event. Who wouldn’t have made the effort to be there even if work or college tried getting in the way?

      I think you’d have had half a million people taking a few days off, sticking it to The Man.

  5. 😉 8) Dear Woodstock info type human resident of 3rd stone from sol-

    The 3 day event was a rare display of united effort. I am shocked that it came off as well as it did! Let’s not go into detail about it here, but if you would like someone else’s favorite picks for top artists then;

    Jimi Hendrix
    Creedence
    Mountain
    Jefferson Airplane
    The Who

    I chose these because they were the most recognized artists by the average concert goer, as well as having the talent and proper equipment.

    Many who went do not remember the event due to heavily oversubscribed unknown medication. 8| However, be that as it may, the released film was a poor document as to what the people actually witnessed.

    I also made my choices from screened performances of above artists from private archives and not the “film”.

    So from here to there and now until then have a beautiful and successful day!

    Best regards, Duane Merritt

  6. :)) I would have loved to have been there. Were Floyd ever asked to play it?

    Pointless, huh? Yeah, you are trying to get a reaction!! 🙂

    I’ve read a few peoples comments about being there and hating it. I’m sure it had its several moments of being ugly, it undoubtedly had less of those moments than the 2 attempts at a “Woodstock”. There can never be another one, because the kids today are stuck up, gimme gimme gimme kids. I’m sure there were some there too, but they were all high.

    The music had meaning then too. Half the crap that is spilled out today by so called musicians means…? It’s hard for me to find any music out today that impacts me the way the music from the 60s or 70s does or even the 50s, some earlier.

    I did enjoy the show though, on video. I loved the show as a whole. Janis, Joe Cocker, Ravi Shankar, CCR, Canned Heat.

    I went back home to New York in July, near the real Woodstock, New York and got to visit the Museum in Bethel or the City of White Lake if you like. If you have the chance, visit it. They did a reasonably good job with the decoration. The gift shop isn’t terribly expensive, but they really hike the prices on the recycled jewelry.

    It’s an absolutely beautiful area outside. The parking lot and museum are a sorta eye sore to all of that beautiful lush green land and the lake out there.

    And on a shameless note: today, I am 35. Thank you. No big gifts please, other than a plane trip and a gorgeous house in New York.

  7. Speaking as a baby boomer and a weekend hippie, I must say that the year or so from Dylan’s Isle of Wight to Jimi’s version were absolutely fantastic. In that time I managed to see more bands than you can shake a stick at including Pink Floyd at Bath, and the Grateful Dead at Keele Uni.

    All of these “do’s” went peacefully enough and even the famed disruption to IoW 1970 was not as bad as the press tried to make out.

    There were though always the Weirdo freeloaders who thought the world owed them a living. Seems like nothing changes!

    The weekend ticket for IoW 1970 was… £5. Now that was a bargain, even with inflation!

  8. Hi again, FEd. 🙂

    I’ll begin from the end.

    I’m not sure if I would have liked to be there, because I can’t know if what I’ve always read/seen about Woodstock could be the truth or just a myth built later. My idea is that, probably, as it always happens, it could be both of these.

    I don’t know if all those people had an aim or if they went there just to enjoy the music and a break from rules, but what’s wrong with going to a concert to have fun, especially if you’re very young?

    Breaking the rules and listening to rock music were, in the end, part of the late 60s pacifist/protesting contest, so what else should those people have done?

    As I told when we talked about Live8, a concert could be very helpful to give a message to the people, but I don’t think it’s enough to change the world, first of all because it’s not “normal life”.

    I don’t think all those people at Woodstock were exactly the same the other days. I think they were mostly common people, maybe sensitive and aware of some kind of problems, but nothing more than this.

    It’s true that the “Woodstock generation” liked money and power as every other generation before and after, but I wouldn’t condemn them all for this, at least not those who used their money and good jobs to have a honest life.

    We’ve seen after the 60s, the world has actually changed, but in another direction, so, maybe, people’s will and feelings were not enough to do the revolution.

    Did I answer the second question? 😛

  9. :)) welcome back, fed. i’m glad you posted this.

    i happen to agree that woodstock has been blown out of all proportion, made out to be some earth shattering event that changed lives. i’m tired of hearing about it. it was a concert with some good bands — that’s all.

    i totally agree that the woodstock generation sold its soul and achieved nothing. the world’s in a worst state now than it was back then.

    so much for peace and love.

  10. It probably was pointless and didn’t achieve anything as far as I can see, but like Alessandra said, what’s wrong with going to a concert to have fun?

    If it made people feel good, that’s good! I wish I’d been there.

  11. FEd,

    Yes I missed you being gone a week. Hope you are feeling better.

    There has been a lot on VH1 Classic channel this weekend about Woodstock. It was a documentary about the festival which many people claim to have been at but weren’t. Apparently there were other festivals as well and people lumped them all into “Woodstock” and really believe they were there when they weren’t.

    The main problem seemed to be a lack of facilities adequate for the amount of people and lack of food as well. A kid sleeping under the honeywagon was run over and died when an attempt was made to move the honeywagon.

    The documentary said most people think of the movie “Woodstock” which was made by the same people who put on the festival because it was seen by so many people around the world.

    My favorite performance was Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young too, “A Long Time Gone”. Here it is.

    Also a favorite was Jimi Hendrix “Red House”, “Purple Haze”.

    It was symbolic as a beginning of a unified feeling among non-violent people against the war, until Kent State happened, which changed everything in America. We were no longer innocent or felt our efforts could change anything.

    It is true that most hippies sold out and became the big Whig business types they protested against. I was always confused by this.

    PF’s lyrics to “Money” changed my life.

    1. Thanks, Patricia. I feel much better now, thank you.

      I’m glad you mentioned Kent State and how that changed the national mood.

  12. Been away? It’s taken you a week to do the intro to the post, LOL. Hope it was good.

    Huurmmph… Woodstock. Good music, think I would have survived it. I don’t think the film does it justice. Focusing on too many free loading “Yeah Baby” types. Would have been better if the Obvious had done a turn, but it wasn’t to be eh?

    Good show opening by Richie Havens, great input by the Brits. I wonder what the audience would have made if the Division Bell set turned up. Ha! Few more casualties probably.

    Mountain’s Leslie West plays a nice plank.

  13. Speaking of 60s music and artists of the time, did you see what happened to one of them recently. You’ll get a kick out of this one.

    Thanks.

    Andrew

    1. :)) I did see that – thanks, Andrew.

      “I just felt like going for a walk.”

      Bob’s too damn cool, isn’t he? Too cool for Woodstock…

  14. First of all I have to say I love your expression “Hippie capitalists”. :))

    More seriously, I think that Woodstock was probably pointless and didn’t achieve anything, but isn’t it the way everything is always happening?

    I mean, the eternal difference between dream/hope/utopia and reality, between youth enthusiasm and adults wisdom/resignation, between what we thought and how we actually act, between who we were and who we have become, between what we expect from a job and what it really gives us, between the spirit of a revolution and its violence/bad consequences,… between early PF and more recent PF… etc, etc…

    I think it’s just a normal human evolution, too sad that we all get old one day (I mean in our heads).

    I think that Woodstock was a very spontaneous event, I don’t know if I would have wanted to attend it, but I think so – and yes, I would have skipped school for that 😉 – , perhaps just to be part of something very special, to share if only for a few days peace, love and rock n’ roll with so many people.

    I have heard that all those who attended it were happy, loved it, still have wonderful memories despite all the problems that we are talking about now.

    I don’t know if it’s true, but I heard there was no violence at all, there was no profit made by the organisers… I don’t think that this could still happen these days.

    So, no matter if Woodstock didn’t change anything for our future, it’s just wonderful that it happened.

    Michèle

    1. I think that Woodstock was a very spontaneous event, I don’t know if I would have wanted to attend it, but I think so – and yes, I would have skipped school for that 😉 – perhaps just to be part of something very special, to share if only for a few days peace, love and rock n’ roll with so many people.

      Now, wouldn’t it have been much more effective had they encouraged people to choose peace, love and music over work, school and money? To have arranged it not for a time when people were on holiday, as Andrew pointed out, but to test just how much those hippie ideals really meant to a generation so fond of reminding the world of their love of peace at every (photo) opportunity. That would have caused disruption and great annoyance, which would have been much more admirable both at the time and now, in hindsight. The only people that do that these days – in the UK, at least – are Tube drivers… when they want more money.

      Apparently, it took the organisers more than a decade to break even, but they did very well out of the 1970 film.

    2. Now, wouldn’t it have been much more effective had they encouraged people to choose peace, love and music over work, school and money?

      In this spirit, we had the events of ‘May 68’ here.

      May 68 was – according to French philosopher Vincent Cespedes – “a massive philosophical explosion”.

      First students stopped studying, then workers stopped working, and finally millions of people suddenly took the streets, stopping ‘obeying’ (stopping obeying parents, teachers, superiors, politicians, any form of authority) and – of course – fighting policemen.

      Their ideal was also to rebuild the world, to question the established order, to invent new ways of communication, to refuse the power of guns, of hierarchy, of money, but their methods were different, more violent, less ‘peace and love’.

      Could it have been more ‘effective’? I don’t have the answer. I’ve read a lot of articles about that. All have different conclusions.

      Here is one in English.

      Sorry, this has nothing to do with music…

  15. Interesting blog.

    Arguably, the biggest legacy of Woodstock is its huge impact on the real children of the sixties: Generation Jones (born 1954-1965, between the Boomers and Generation X). This USA TODAY op-ed speaks to the relevance today of the sixties counter culture impact on GenJones.

    Google Generation Jones, and you’ll see it’s gotten a ton of media attention, and many top commentators from many top publications and networks (Washington Post, Time magazine, NBC, Newsweek, ABC, etc.) now specifically use this term. In fact, the Associated Press’ annual Trend Report forecast the Rise of Generation Jones as the #1 trend of 2009.

    Here’s a page with a good overview of recent media interest in GenJones.

  16. First as to the performances:

    Richie Havens–Freedom (it defined the festival).
    Jimi Hendrix–appeared with a new but short-lived band to close the festival.
    Country Joe McDonald–his “Fixin’ To Die Rag brought some much needed humor to the event.
    Santana–a firey performance by a fledgling band.
    C.S.N.–beautiful harmonies and great songs.
    The Who–just for being there.

    The event itself did prove to be a cultural success though a financial disaster. It proved that people could gather in a wide open space for 3 days of music and survive not only the elements but the critics as well. I don’t think it was a complete hype because it did pave the way for many better-organized festivals that followed it. It showed the record execs that gatherings like this could showcase many artists and generate a lot of income while feeding the public’s need for music and being a part of a cultural community. It became a part of Americana that those who were touched by it can still relate to and will pass on to their children.

    I don’t necessarily agree with people trying to relive or recreate Woodstock. It could only have happened once and in one place and time. The subsequent festivals bore similarities to it but due to the times and attitudes they were by no means the same. Woodstock is an experience frozen in time. The ideas and ideals raised there shouldn’t be scorned because the fact that it happened the way it did proved that it did work on its own level. So be it.

  17. Highlight had to have been CSN&Y. They were just so perfect. Hendrix, Santana, Joe Cocker, Chuck Berry, “My Ding a Ling”, Sha Na Na were amazing. 8|

    I saw the film in 1970 (’71?) at the cinema. Every hippie from miles around was there I think. We loved it, wished we’d been there.

    Did anyone see the film on Saturday night, BBC4? There was some footage I don’t remember from the original. What struck me about the film was just how good the filming was and how good the sound was. Of course when I realised Scorsese was involved, that explained it. 1969 though.

    I remember thinking how sad the end was, hardly anyone left to see Hendrix. On Saturday I was disgusted to see the mess which I don’t remember thinking about the first time I saw the film. (I must have learned something about environmental issues since then.) 🙂

    ash X

  18. It’s a while since I skipped through the DVD of the event… but I’m alarmed at how alike my list of highlights would be to yours F’ed.

    If it has to be one moment it’s Hendrix and the Star Spangled banner – that was a moment in popular culture right there… and as has often been said it passed most of the attendees by.

    Judgements about the event seem weighed down by hindsight… sometimes things have their own momentum and don’t need to be part of a wider plan… context and importance are ascribed afterwards. The event tells us something of the optimism of hope, a time when people were genuinely thinking that there might be some other way… the fact that social revolutions are a little harder than that to come by doesn’t invalidate the enquiry. Hope and earnestness can quickly look like naivety and hypocrisy from the other end of the telescope.

    And of course for many it was an event to be witnessed, participated in… an experience. Nothing more, nothing less.

  19. It seemed to me Woodstock was an in-your-face gathering, a wild exhibitionist party that said, “this is what we’re about and you might as well like it.” Something like that had never been done before, so its claim to fame is that it was the first.

    Personally, though I loved a lot of the musicians who played there, I am grateful I wasn’t there. I would have enjoyed it for about 15 minutes and I would have been scouting for exits. People pushing and shoving, getting sick and passing out on my feet was never my idea of a good time. Assuming there would have been space, you might have found me dancing, though.

    I think my favorite performances were Richie Havens, CSN, Country Joe & the Fish, Santana, and CCR, though I liked the others, too. I especially enjoyed Richie Havens. I had never heard him before and thought he was phenomenal.

  20. I was a tad young and a teenager when 69 happened along. I remember it well.

    Soul Sacrifice by Santana and Star Spangled Banner by Jimi are my faves.

    Welcome back Fed, hope your leisure was relaxing.

    P.S. Woodstock was a free experience to the masses that went, sort of like the Garden of Eden. What a huge peaceful event.

  21. Now concert-going is all about numbers: how much you pay (not least in assorted fees) for a numbered seat, to park your car, to drink an over-priced beverage from a plastic beaker and to be a part of a not-quite-but-almost homogeneous mass, where those demonstrating the greatest show of wealth may sit in the front, with the less comfortably off straining their necks to see from the back. They rarely take place out in the open any more, instead they’re usually held in bland arenas with familiar corporate logos emblazoned across every available flat surface.

    Dave, let’s be honest here: how much are you worth?

    1. You do know that David doesn’t write this stuff, don’t you?

      For the record, as I’ve been expecting a comment like yours, I believe that David, and every other successful musician, is as much a tool of the system as all those that pay to watch and listen.

      Concerts follow a certain format now and no matter how much an artist is worth, he or she isn’t going to change that format single-handedly. What they’re worth is irrelevant. The people on stage are simply playing their part. There are hundreds of other people employed to play theirs, too. Such is life.

      That’s a discussion for another time. Right place, wrong time.

    2. Dear FEd,

      I appreciate your reply to “Whatever”. It’s not polite to ask one his worth.

      Thank you.

  22. Here are some interesting things about bands who were not at Woodstock:

    Cancelled Acts

    Jeff Beck Group (The band broke up in July, forcing cancellation)
    Iron Butterfly (Stuck at the airport, their manager demanded helicopters and special arrangements just for them. Were wired back and told, as impolitely as Western Union would allow, “to get lost”, but in other ‘words’)
    Joni Mitchell (Joni’s agent put her on “The Dick Cavett Show” instead)
    Lighthouse (Feared that it would be a “bad scene”)
    Ethan Brown (Arrested for LSD three days before the event)

    Declined Invitations

    The Beatles (John Lennon said he couldn’t get them together)
    Led Zeppelin (Got a higher paying gig at the Asbury Park Convention Hall in New Jersey that weekend)
    Bob Dylan (Turned it down because of his disgust of the hippies hanging around his house)
    The Byrds (Turned it down because of a melee during their performance at the first Atlanta International Pop Festival, held at the Atlanta International Raceway on July 4 and July 5, 1969)
    Tommy James & the Shondells (Turned it down because of being misinformed about the size and scope of the event)
    Jethro Tull (Turned it down because they thought it wouldn’t be a big deal)
    The Moody Blues (were included in the original posters as performers, but backed out after taking a gig in Paris on the same weekend)
    Spirit (they had other shows planned)

    1. Jethro Tull weren’t there because, apparently, Ian Anderson didn’t fancy spending his weekend “in a field of unwashed hippies”. :))

      Personally, I’m glad that Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan weren’t there. Joni did, of course, write a beautiful song about it later.

  23. I was 18 when the “Three Days of Peace and Music” played out in Bethel, New York ~ unfortunately, I was on the opposite coast or I certainly would have been there!

    The performances that I consider the absolute stand-outs are Richie Havens’ in-the-zone performance of “Freedom/Motherless Child” (OMG, indeed!), Joe Cocker’s brilliant cover of “With A Little Help From My Friends” (again, totally ‘in the zone’), and Jimi Hendrix playing his dramatic version of “The Star Spangled Banner”!

    What did Woodstock accomplish? Well, it WAS three days of peace and music which is all that it was intended to be. Also, it brought about a considerable amount of discussion between the older and younger generations which in 1969 was a much larger gap than today. Lastly, we’re still talking about it today, 40 years down the road. Not bad, in my humble opinion!

    Here in my little town in Washington State we are lucky to be having Woodstock at Winthrop this very weekend which I WILL be attending! Country Joe McDonald is hosting Jefferson Starship, Canned Heat, Ten Years After, Big Brother & The Holding Company, and more. Yeah, I know, we’re all a bunch of grey, wrinkled old geezers but it’s going to be a blast anyway. Besides, our kids don’t mind ~ they love music even if it IS coming from someone in a walker. :))

    Rock on!

    Peace ‘n’ Love. 😛

    1. What did Woodstock accomplish? Well, it WAS three days of peace and music which is all that it was intended to be. Also, it brought about a considerable amount of discussion between the older and younger generations which in 1969 was a much larger gap than today. Lastly, we’re still talking about it today, 40 years down the road. Not bad, in my humble opinion!

      Indeed. 🙂

    2. Gabrielle,

      That sounds like a great festival! I hope you have a great time this weekend. Take a picnic basket and a cooler and spread a blanket down and show the kids what it is all about. They will love it.

      To the person making a comment that there are no more outdoor concerts worth going to, Gabrielle is going to Woodstock ’09 this weekend and on September 9, I am going to see The Moody Blues at an outdoor concert here in Tennessee. The TICKETS were $12, I bought at my local grocery, and plenty of free parking. I will bring a picnic basket and ice chest full of beer so where do you live?

      To the person who thinks Generation Jones are really so different from other generations before them… in elementary school, doe-eyed, not tie-dyed, give me a break. If you had something to say, you should have done it when you were a voice. Obviously you never had one and never will if you didn’t express it in your youth. No comment about Obama politics other than he seems like most other Democract presidents. This is a music blog so I am stopping there.

      I was not a hippie but I admired what they stood for. Woodstock’s political message to the government was “peace, love and rock ‘n roll, not war”. Yet the war raged on, and like I said a year later The National Guard shot 4 dead at Kent State who were not even protesting, which resulted in CSNY singing “Ohio”. At least the hippies made a statement that was non-violent about their concept of love and music at a free outdoor concert. I think that is a major accomplishment. Both then, in the moment, and in hindsight. 🙂

      Joni Mitchell was dating Graham Nash and wanted to be there. Her agent screwed that up. Watching on TV from her NYC hotel room, she wrote “Woodstock”, not some time later. Prior to release on any album, Mitchell performed “Woodstock” at the 1969 Big Sur Folk Festival, one month after Woodstock. The solo performance can be seen in the festival concert film “Celebration at Big Sur” (released in 1971). The performance was an exception to Mitchell’s mounting distaste for large festival gigs. However, she played indoor gigs regularly for many decades and loved them.

      Peace and love,
      Patricia 🙂

  24. Hi everyone,

    Not wishing to put a downer on this topic but I do find the whole Woodstock anniversary thing a bit boring now. It’s been hyped for so many months you’d think the gig was imminent and you could actually buy tickets for the damn thing! I do understand its cultural significance, but from what I’ve read it may not have been that pleasant an experience being there.

    Now, what about the landmark gig that has just reached its 30th anniversary – Led Zep at Knebworth (4/8/79)? What a gig! Was anyone there? I was 17 at the time and it was my first (and most memorable) festival experience.

    Possible topic Fed?

    All the best,
    Kevan.

    1. Yes, good idea; we should cover the various Knebworths.

      We can all contribute something to that one, I’m sure.

    2. My mate was at that one Kevan. He also was 17 at the time. He still goes on about it like it was yesterday. Must have been a good one.

  25. My favourite performances.

    – Joe Cocker “With a Little Help From My Friends”
    – Grateful Dead “St. Stephen” (even if very short)
    – Joan Baez “We Shall Overcome”
    – Incredible String Band “When You Find Out Who You Are”
    – The Who “Pinball Wizard”
    – Ravi Shankar (I can’t remember any of the titles, but I love the sound of the sitar)
    – Janis Joplin “Piece of My Heart”
    – Jefferson Airplane “White Rabbit”
    – Jimi Hendrix “Red House”
    – CSN & Y “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes”

  26. Ciao,

    Fed, you wrote a terrific piece this time. There is nothing to add to what you wrote. Very well put and thought provoking. And in general everything and the contrary of it has been already said about Woodstock. What can an Italian born later than Woodstock say?

    Well, I can think to “my” Woodstock. I was 16 and we were 70.000 in Monza for pink Floyd. What did I want and learned from that? That being together, in peace, for music is beautiful. That music is a tremendous vehicle to unite people in peace. Look at football and all the violence. But half a million people can stand together in peace for music and there is no need of police or control for these people. All big music concerts are nearly always totally peaceful. Isn’t it a hope in a world where the only thing we feel everyday is violence, and war? If you can learn to stay peacefully in a gig, you are half the way to being a peaceful man. :))

    One thing I can say is that these American celebrations (like Woodstock) are beginning to be annoying. Americans continue to talk about themselves and are so “self-referential” without caring what happens more and everything they do is turned into a myth. They are also very good in hiding their bad things in history. So I am beginning to be full of these American celebrations.

    You are so good in celebrating 40 years from a man on the moon. We Europeans don’t make so much noise to celebrate our 53 years without the Death Penalty… That would be an achievement, Americans.

    1. I wasn’t going to say anything but since you are Italian, what about the Live8 non-payment your country vowed with the other G8 countries to give to Africa? What is your excuse for that? Don’t think I am prejudiced against you because you are Italian. I once married an Italian man and they are great lovers.

      Has it ever occurred to you that your media is mind washing you about Americans? We are not the boogey man and what our Presidents do is not a reflection on us as people. We are just like other people everywhere. We do care about other cultures and give a lot of money, maybe not enough, but that is our government. I personally give a lot of my money to the poor because in giving I get back much more. We care about global warming and try to make a difference, for example Al Gore and all he has done to bring this forefront in all the world’s mind. We care about our economy and people like myself in America have never ascribed to the idea of huge homes, SUV’s for each individual in the home. I live in a modest home, paid for. I have 2 small cars I share with members of my family so I don’t have my own personal car.

      As far as the death penalty, we have more homicidal maniacs in America due to guns and free press which turns to pornography. In Europe you don’t have this malignancy. Our over-crowded prisons are another problem that has no answer.

      Just try to remember, universally most people are just like other people but the government makes rules about death penalties and wars.

      Thanks for reading this.

      Patricia

    2. All big music concerts are nearly always totally peaceful.

      Underline the word “nearly”. Sometimes these big gigs turn ugly like the Altamont Festival that followed a few months after Woodstock. I was at a YES gig at Roosevelt Stadium in NJ in 1976 where there was a lot of fighting on the field and someone was stabbed to death in the parking lot. Yet another time was when The Who played the LA Coliseum and fights broke out on that field as well.

      Sometimes when too many substances or cultures clash the people at giant concerts don’t always get along. It’s a shame because we go to these events to hear music and have a good night out but some attendees end up spoiling the night for the rest of us. As much as we’d prefer a peaceful time there are some among us who still don’t know how to do that yet.

  27. Hey Fed,

    You know I would comment about this didn’t you? 😉

    I think that memories of certain events become enhanced over the years and Woodstock is one of those. If you look at the movie and still photos it is apparent to me that a lot were wet and miserable and at the time did not feel the vibe that was attributed to the event.

    What strikes me overall is the naivety and childlike simplicity of the people there. People really did think that peace and love could change the world despite that same world being more violent than ever. You would never find 400,000 people under 30 with the same attitude these days and I think that is a shame in some ways.

    I think Michael Lang’s intentions were good at the time and that is important but so much of the hype was based on serendipity and a moment in time that was perfect for it to happen. A couple of stabbings like Altamont and it would have been just another festival.

    Overall I agree with your comments above Fed, but I think one good thing came out of that generation and that was the green initiative for our planet. Organizations like Greenpeace sprang from those hippy roots.

    Cheers, Howard

  28. Yes, good idea; we should cover the various Knebworths.

    We can all contribute something to that one, I’m sure.

    Yes, Pink Floyd at Knebworth with the Spitfire flypass, the equipment/tuning problems and all the delays!!! I’ve heard the bootlegs and would have loved to have been at that one!

    Alas, I was deemed too young by my parents! 🙁

    Kevan.

  29. I’m not sure about the logic of how a few hippies at Woodstock can be blamed for the world the way it is now. Words are astonishing things.

    Does it ever cross folks’ minds that there is perhaps something behind one world governance and world peace that they’ve not understood? Is plotting the murder of billions of humans across the globe really saving the world? Or is it simply another religious crusade?

    I don’t believe the world is in any danger from anything so I therefore believe the motives behind saving it (i.e. the extermination of billions of Earth citizens) to be rather suspect and the work of a few religious psychopaths.

    Perhaps the 33rd degrees understand what they are doing but I suspect even they don’t understand why they are doing what they are doing. Perhaps they really do believe they are saving the world, who knows?

    Woodstock was used as a platform by criminals to launch the drugs market in the US. All part of destroying America. But that’s just my take.

    Have a wonderful week! 🙂

  30. I have often thought about Woodsock and dreamed of being there because I was born just before beginning of summer 69 so somehow I consider myself a Woodstock Child. 😀

    The whole show was great for me, but if I have to choose I’d go for Jimi Hendrix.

    In my youth during my musical studies I’ve always been catching up with the past, 60s and 70s, rather than embracing the new trends of the 80s, because of the unparalleled inspirations of those days.

    But really, understanding what Woodstock did achieve is hard, I think it was more an ending point of an era rather than a starting point for something new. For what I’ve been told, the audience was peaceful, hippie-minded, helping each other, dreaming together. Does this happen again in nowadays shows? I doubt it. I see individualistic behaviour, people giving bad looks, pushing and fighting for a good spot.

    In terms of entertainment too, today shows of such a size are mostly lead by a DJ with preprogrammed music files, nothing like setting up bands, singing live, and writing lyrics just for the show.

  31. I think it’s interesting that more than double the people who actually bought tickets showed up. The promoters took a bath, but kept it going for three days despite not enough resources to cater to such a huge and unexpected crowd. Kudos to the farmer who allowed his land to be used despite ridicule from the townspeople.

    Subsequent large gatherings of musicians and fans, for specific aid purposes, have been more beneficial toward their stated goals, but in the spirit of peace and music, an overwhelming gathering of people made history at Woodstock.

    Fortunately you can still find a great show outside – we got to see Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson at the ampitheater in Tahoe Sunday night – it was excellent!

    1. Fortunately you can still find a great show outside – we got to see Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson at the ampitheater in Tahoe Sunday night – it was excellent!

      Lucky you, Christine. So glad that you enjoyed.

  32. Undoubtedly, the Sixties had a remarkable influence culturally, but was Woodstock yet another over-hyped piece in an over-valued tie-dye puzzle? Wonderfully idealistic, jolly good fun, yet rather… pointless?

    Thinking further on these statements I ask, did it have to have a point? What about the music? Is there something wrong with just going to a festival to listen to the music? Isn’t that what artists who create music want, to perform their art to a crowd? Does every concert have to have a level of social awareness attached to it or can’t you just go and have some fun and unwind?

    “Three Days of Peace and Music”.

    That is what the attendees got.

    Was Mozart and Beethoven creating symphonies to deliver some kind of political message or were they simply just trying to entertain a crowd? Maybe if we play their music backwards we could hear Satan talking to us?

    To me one of the issues with the world today is that it is too commercialized. Everyone is trying to make a buck. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that musicians aren’t entitled or that they should be performing for free. I’m just saying that things are a bit out of control.

    I think back to some of the interviews David did for OAI. I remember reading how David feels that the release was musically brilliant. Unfortunately, much of that brilliance is lost on the majority of the public because their expectation was completely different.

    To be continued…

  33. The expectation of OAI was that it was going to be another Pink Floyd type release. And certainly David could have easily done that but musically you have to admire the fact that David did not sell out. He had all the equipment and talent to get the machine grinding out millions more for his bank account. Instead he crafted something that is pleasing to himself and something he hopes others will enjoy.

    No, OAI is not one of my all time favorite releases. In fact it doesn’t make my top 10 either. But it doesn’t mean I don’t like it. It certainly is enjoyable and it is a good CD to just kick back to. And sure there are some poignant messages in the lyrics but I would go nuts if I had to continually scrutinize every word that was sung.

    In fact, 90% of the time the public misinterprets lyrics anyway. People think that Every Breath You Take is a love song and that Born in the USA is a patriotic song when the opposite is true of both songs.

    And I think that is what artists struggle with continually, people just don’t get it. Either they don’t get the message in the song like in Every Breath or Born in the USA or they don’t appreciate the intricate crafting in the songs such as in the work on OAI. Granted for many, the latter one is a bit more tricky for some to appreciate especially if they are not musically talented themselves.

    But the fact is that we live in a world where gratification needs to be achieved in 2 minutes 30 seconds. Where we are more fascinated about which celebrity sex tape comes out next. We measure people based on how much stuff they have. And recently we make celebrities out of people who decide to put their stupidity on display for everyone to see on various reality shows.

    To be continued further…

  34. As a 15 year old, hearing the triple-album and going to see the movie of Woodstock, it represented my ideal – music, peace, love, etc. Watching the movie on BBC4 on Saturday for the first time in ages I was surprised at how much I remembered (almost note-for-note). Stand out performances for me were (in no particular order) Richie Havens, The Who, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Joe Cocker, Sly and the Family Stone, Santana.

    But, if I had to choose one performance, it would have to be Hendrix. I could listen to the Star Spangled Banner/Purple Haze/Vilanova Junction sequence for ever.

    What’s interesting to me is how everyone seemed to be very optimistic albeit in a naive way; or, at least, that’s how they were portrayed. The following year’s Isle of Wight festival (1970) is always portrayed in a very negative fashion, which I find very strange. I was there, the lineup was similar, and I found the atmosphere to be very friendly and joyful, in marked contrast to the impression given in the movie.

    To my eternal frustration, I fell asleep in the interval before Hendrix came on and missed his whole set. 🙁

    Unlike the other contributor who was deemed too young to go to The Floyd Knebworth gig, I was there and you missed a good ‘un. Although I could have done without the queues to get out of the car park!

    Did any of these huge festivals make a difference? Well, they certainly did to me!

  35. So the question is not did Woodstock have a point – the question is what is the point of the festivals that are staged in this day and age?

    If I had a choice, I would much rather be chillin’ on a farm back in 1969 listening to the tunes. Don’t get me wrong, I was at Live Aid and I enjoyed it as well. I heard the political message delivered there but honestly it was still all about the music for me.

    And chew on this one for a bit, Pink Floyd reunited for Live8 because it was a good cause. It is too bad that it took any cause to bring the band back together. The pretence is all wrong. I would much rather see David perform OAI where his heart and soul is giving its all than to see a forced performance with musicians that are just acting nice and are just on stage for some cause or to cash in on a payday.

    FEd, don’t know if this is the kind of reaction you wanted and honestly when I started writing this, I had no idea it was going to go down this path. I’m still trying to figure out if my ramblings all make sense. I can probably go on through a few more posts but I will just leave it here and say…

    Thanks.

    Andrew

    1. Thank you, Andrew; I appreciate that. Lots to think about.

      I was thinking earlier about Neil Young and how he disapproved of the Woodstock film (indeed, he refused to be filmed with Crosby, Stills and Nash), yet he was at Glastonbury this year, which is as far from Woodstock as you can get in every sense of the word, I should imagine.

      People and views change over time, of course. I can’t say that either of those decisions makes me appreciate his music any more or any less. Any performer wants to perform and if they’ve also got a message that they wish to put out there, they can’t always be too precious about which stage they clamber onto.

      Interesting, though.

    2. Just a few more thoughts…

      Neil Young is an interesting character to say the least and I think many of us can point to situations where we may not agree with a musician’s point of view but still think their song is rocking and great. Although Cat Stevens is an interesting artist. I remember when radio stations stopped playing all of his music because of his change in beliefs and it took many years before you heard Peace Train on the air again.

      It is also kinda ironic when people say things like my favorite song is Janie Got a Gun or Jeremy. Yet the topic of the lyrics are very dark and violent. It is interesting how music can be used as a backdrop to lyrics that are quite disturbing.

      Also, don’t forget about the Live Earth concert that was staged last year. A concert that was suppose to raise environmental awareness, yet you had artists that were jetsetting around the world to perform. Maybe it would have made sense for local artists to fill the bill, instead of “importing” or “exporting” them effectively adding to environmental pollution? Hmmmm… were they flying commercial airlines or in their private planes?

      Thanks.

      Andrew

  36. To Patricia: did I say that Americans are “self-referential”? Today (not in 1969 but TODAY) Obama was in Arizona and ultra fascists were there to wait for him showing their guns. Wow!! Yeah, you are right. It’s your government who manage death penalty… luckily.

    To Michael: I said nearly because I was including the concerts in the US. The sentence for Europe is “ALL concerts in Europe are totally peaceful”.

    If I am making Americans upset, I am sorry but you should learn to LISTEN to other countries’ or people’s opinions and try to get better. You know… Obama, who wants a national health system, is COPYING what MANY countries are doing. And total lack of control over weapons is a crazy thing only your country does. But if you want to go with that, do it!! It is not my problem. In Italy we had, last year, 605 murders (with 60 million citizens). That is about one third of killings in New York a few years ago. And other European countries are maybe better than that.

    Now America is economically and socially collapsing and still is not thinking: what have we done wrong? Go on, wait for Obama with a gun outside the White House.

  37. Michael Lang has said that the real stars of Woodstock were not the artists–the star was the crowd. I love watching the movie for the “regular” people clips:

    – Dr. “Sh*t-Like-That”
    – The “Blind Faith is a Groovy Group” chick
    – The “Ahhhhh” gal in the Soul Sacrifice bit
    – Hugh Romney!!!!!
    – The “How much do you charge for 4 cubes of ice?” town-lady.

    Did Woodstock accomplish anything? Individual lives were changed because of this event. Everything matters, so Woodstock matters.

    In ’69, that group of people made a political statement without being political. In ’94, the 2nd so-called Woodstock event also reflected the times–anger, violence, mayhem.

  38. organised by hippie capitalists

    Is there such a thing? Wouldn’t the organisers be more like wolves in sheep’s clothing?

    What I have learned so far about the hippie is that “most” of them were middle class university drop outs with socialist/pacifist views and possible anarchists too. Isn’t a capitalist something the hippie was against? I don’t know, I suppose I need to do more research.

    As for Woodstock, I was too young to attend but what I remember about watching the film was how good Janis Joplin was coupled with Jimi Hendrix.

    Come to think of it, I don’t think I have watched the film all the way through. Another DVD to my list, methinks. 🙂

  39. I am too young for Woodstock. I am now 45 years old.

    I can understand that Woodstock was in theory not a capitalist venture. That’s the goal of being underground. Too bad, that now only the music is nostalgic. It’s easy to capitalize off that.

    My son is now 21. He’s in the anarchist movement. But the music is not the same. And sorry, Dylan (my son) it’s not going to be remembered as that.

    Now there is a strong hatred from the police to those who claim they are anarchist. Not the same world as during the sixties. It’s not mellow for our children now. Watch the G20 convention. They are even closing school districts. The establishment is out for blood, but it’s not being reported. The kids are not happy now. There is no peace. And no one is making beautiful music anymore because there is no more optimism. And believe me, I am am optimist. I don’t like what I see.

    Wake up.

    To all Anarchists: Even if we do away with capitalism, what about the bombs (like in China, Russia and Korea)???

    1. Even if we do away with capitalism, what about the bombs (like in China, Russia and Korea)???

      Or the USA and Israel. They scare me just as much, probably more.

  40. About the evolution of the Woodstock Generation, I believe that, probably, the movement started losing part of its power as soon as it was identified with a new possible marketing target and labeled as a new style and fashion.

    I’m not saying there was necessarily a political plan behind that, since, maybe, there was just the intention to sell new products and make money, but surely, it contributed to put the movement under control and the meanings behind it, in the background.

    If what I know is correct, the definition of “Hippies” was itself a mass media creation, but stuck to them as a label.

    1. Good point – much like the Mods and Rockers, really.

      Another that interests me is the authenticity of this new breed of hippies. I wonder what the Woodstock Generation make of all the peace-loving, bead-wearing, placard-waving folk under the age of, say, 30.

      These hippie pretenders are almost all ‘capitalist hippies’ nowadays, don’t you think?

    2. For me, there is no way to be hippie right now, since the right time has simply passed and it doesn’t seem it’s going to come back.

      It could be that some of these new hippies believe in the values of the Woodstock Generation, but I think, in the end, they are much more attracted by that kind of fashion, than by the meanings it should express. Look at their dresses as a simple proof. Where is the sense of dressing in a hippie style if everything they wear comes from expensive shops?

      New hippies are far from being out of the system, on the contrary, they give their contribution to feed it, along with other new subcultures such as ravers, emos…

      Last month I went to the Gong concert, here in my city. There were some small groups of authentic hippies there. They looked so different from the crowd around them and quite isolated, also by those new hippies we’re talking about.

      That’s what happens to those who have remained coherent with their ideals, while the world has gone in the opposite direction, I thought.

      It was sad enough to see that.

    3. Us hippies are still here and we’re still hippies. We just don’t need to dress or look a particular way or wear our credentials on our sleeve.

      We just smile and know we taught our children well. 🙂

      I still wear velvet because it feels so good. I still wear vibrant colours because they suit me. I still make original clothes out of cheap or found or otherwise re-cycled (not that my wardrobe is exclusively re-cycled, you understand). I don’t look like your stereotypical hippy, I suppose, but I’m not really much different to how I was as a teenager. I am very much wiser 😉 but still a child of that generation. You can’t change what was bred into you.

      The clothes/fashions is not where it’s at. That might have been a uniform back then. It stopped mattering. I think like minded people soon identify themselves to each other. There are a helluva lot of people who are hippies and don’t even know it. 😀

      ash, love and peace X

    4. Ash,

      I think I understand what you mean, but, unfortunately, I can’t see many people like you around me anymore.

      When I said that the few authentic hippies at the Gong’s concert seemed different from the rest of the crowd, I wasn’t talking of their dresses or aesthetics only, but of their way to be/behave.

      Just as you say, not all of them wore hippies’ clothes, but they were easy to recognize, just looking at their faces. They looked happy and sincere and still convinced of their way to be, but also isolated, outside their small groups.

      Most of that crowd was made by new false hippies clearly acting a part in their own movie and ex-hippies, who, probably, had left their good values behind them, to become happy, capitalist (as FEd said) consumers, more nostalgic of being young, than of being hippies.

      As for me, I don’t know which is exactly my position. I can’t be hippie (even if I like the aesthetic) since I’m born too late, I’m not a new hippie, because it’s quite absurd in this world and, anyway, I don’t like very much either to label myself, or to be labelled.

      My position is strange. I completely agree with hippies’ values, but what I see is that my generation and, partially, the one before mine, has let the politics/market convert those values in fashion. That’s something I find sad and also very dangerous.

      Sorry for the long message, but it’s not always easy to express this things in English. 🙂

  41. I was being in friendly and jokey in my last post, FEd. Hope it is not taken in a negative way.

    I guess I’m no wordsmith.

  42. a point of further note about woodstock.

    at that time people were socially and pro “power to the people” charged at that event and it was taken by many to mean something more than just a 3 day concert with all your favorite bands. some viewed it as a requiem from society, or a way to rebel against whatever was wrong with society. they simply wanted to read more into it than what it really was: a huge 3 day concert. has our world changed for the better because of it? what do you think?

    if you want change then you have to take an active part in changing things not just talk about them or be passive and just want change. i don’t want to step on any toes but life is what you make out of it. change is not easy, people are afraid of change. especially those you are trying to change! if you don’t believe me, go out and try to organize your entire neighborhood to have something changed.

    good luck!

    1. if you want change then you have to take an active part in changing things not just talk about them or be passive and just want change. i don’t want to step on any toes but life is what you make out of it. change is not easy, people are afraid of change. especially those you are trying to change! if you don’t believe me, go out and try to organize your entire neighborhood to have something changed.

      Hear, hear. 🙂

    2. You’re right Duane, about getting just your neighbourhood to change. Too many people think someone else will do it so they don’t bother.

      I hate to say this (because it sounds “establishment”), it’s a good job we have elected representatives who try to effect change because most people are apathetic! AND they don’t really like change, see it as de-stabilising.

      I love this line, “If you’re not part of the solution, you must be part of the problem”.

      ash X

  43. I said nearly because I was including the concerts in the US. The sentence for Europe is “ALL concerts in Europe are totally peaceful”.

    European music festivals are peaceful? Hmmm… tell that to the people who attended the Leeds or Reading Festivals in prior years.

    But even if you agree with the statement of European music festivals being peaceful, I still certainly would not want to attend a football/soccer match in Italy.

    Seems you take your life in your hands there if you root for the wrong team. Take a Google search on “Soccer Game Deaths Italy” and you can read about fans being stabbed and shot. Wow, where are the Italians getting guns if there is such good gun control in Europe? And this is an interesting article as well.

    I can’t seem to remember the last time I read about such tragedy at the Super Bowl and American fans are very passionate about their football. I’m not saying that there are no riots in the streets after the games but I can’t remember a time where someone was shot, stabbed or trampled to death in the stadium.

    Thanks.

    Andrew

    1. Andrew,

      I clearly stated in my previous post: “…Look at football and all the violence”. Football is what you call soccer (by the way, why do you call football a game you play with hands?) :P. I agree with you about Italian football. In fact I never attended a single football game nor do I like the sport. I am an unusual Italian in my dislike for this sport.

      I may have been a bit harsh about Americans but the reason is that if I love my country and in general the place where I live, I must be able to criticize it, look what’s good and wrong, take suggestions or look at other human experiences and get better. While American people are very good in pointing out other countries’ failures, you are very blind to your own. Or at least a part, a great part, of American society.

      Example: in a previous post someone was scared about atomic bombs in the hands of Korea, or whatever, when actually the atomic bond was a total creation and production of USA and USA is the only country who used it testing it on human beings. Or should I say testing it on Japanese? The same Japanese which were put in lagers during Second World War. Not killed but confined.

      I could go on for pages about US.

      What I am full of are these cheesy celebrations on “nothing”. You still have to celebrate the creation of things which are normal in other places. Italians on the contrary, if you know some of them, are so good in accepting and criticizing their faults. I think that America has to stop thinking that America is a special nation, more special than anyone else. My country is very generous with its citizens. We spend a lot for us and we have a lot of taxes to give everything to everybody. Most European countries do that. Is it having more history? Is it being wiser? I don’t know. But it is very, very difficult to make Americans doubt the perfection of their country.

    2. Sorry, but what is the point of such personal ‘attacks’ against specific countries (whoever they come from)?

    3. Piergiorgio,

      Funny enough we have two things in common.

      1. I am an unusual American in that I dislike football.

      2. I love my country and where I live as well.

      Thanks.

      Andrew

    4. But even if you agree with the statement of European music festivals being peaceful, I still certainly would not want to attend a football/soccer match in Italy.

      :)) Not exactly peaceful, you’re right.

  44. Dear FEd,

    So sorry to hear that you have been ill. I hope you are feeling better now. You sure kept your audience busy with your return to work blog topic of Woodstock.

    What did Woodstock achieve? Besides the money that the producers did not make in this venture, Woodstock did achieve an American ideal of the right to gather and freedom of speech. I was only 11 at the time yet I remember the horrible times that my country was going through. The war being the most horrible thing that I could imagine at that time. There was also a lot of sorrow at that time with the loss of great men like Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King. Young men were being forced to leave their families and fight a war of violence, either that or leave the country and hide in Canada or wherever.

    The thought of three days of peace and love and harmony was a band aid for the wounds of the time. Was that wrong? That people sought relief for their souls by attending a music festival wrong? Not my feelings anyway.

    Yes, there were drugs and lack of facilities and whatever you may. Like anything in life, that was the decision of the attendees of the festival. No one estimated the huge outcome of people that would attend Woodstock. The volume of people spoke loudly of the need for that type of retreat at the time.

    Maybe more benefit of the gathering could have been had, that is true. How great an outcome had the event been geared toward a cause such as the starving, dying from disease, etc.

  45. …The fact of the matter as I see it was that no matter the money making intention of the producers of Woodstock, or the heavy duty drug use during the event, or any of the other negative facts surrounding the event, folks like me were able to voice our feelings through music and be heard for the first time. I think that alone offers huge significance related to this event. It surely does make one think 40 years later, the importance of being heard.

    My favorites were Richie Havens’ opening act and Jimi Hendrix’s Star Spangled Banner.

    I wish Bob Dylan would have been there as his lyrics would have certainly been a plus.

    I wish I would have been there yet fondly remember the feeling of hope for peace in this world through the power of music. I still feel the same today. Let our voices be heard. Let us gather together.

    Love to the world.

  46. In terms of the music:

    – Joan Baez, for the purity of sound in her voice, and for the rebel in her at that time.
    – Jimi’s take of the US anthem, I think we forget just how much “anarchy” this represented at that time. 😮

    The song with the lyrics “we are stardust, we are golden” by Joni Mitchell. Although I don’t think she sang it at the festival. This got me into chemistry/ Science.

    As to Woodstock itself, flower power and all that, I think it made a statement at a time when the world was somewhat on edge with Vietnam and all the nuclear posturing, that was afoot.

    Question: if David should read this, any chance of coming up to the North East of Scotland? I’ll put you up. My son, a budding guitarist, would be in awe. He says youR guitar licks are very difficult to learn. 😉

  47. Andrew,

    I propose we smoke a peace joint (or spliff?) while listening to the Woodstock song “I Feel Like I Am Fixin’ To Die” by Country Joe and the Fish:

    Yeah, come on all of you, big strong men,
    Uncle Sam needs your help again.
    He’s got himself in a terrible jam
    Way down yonder in Vietnam
    So put down your books and pick up a gun,
    We’re gonna have a whole lotta fun.

    And it’s one, two, three,
    What are we fighting for?
    Don’t ask me, I don’t give a damn,
    Next stop is Vietnam;
    And it’s five, six, seven,
    Open up the pearly gates,
    Well there ain’t no time to wonder why,
    Whoopee! we’re all gonna die.

    Well, come on generals, let’s move fast;
    Your big chance has come at last.
    Gotta go out and get those reds —
    The only good commie is the one who’s dead
    And you know that peace can only be won
    When we’ve blown ’em all to kingdom come.

    And it’s one, two, three,
    What are we fighting for?
    Don’t ask me, I don’t give a damn,
    Next stop is Vietnam;
    And it’s five, six, seven,
    Open up the pearly gates,
    Well there ain’t no time to wonder why
    Whoopee! we’re all gonna die.

    Huh!

    Well, come on Wall Street, don’t move slow,
    Why man, this is war au-go-go.
    There’s plenty good money to be made
    By supplying the Army with the tools of the trade,
    Just hope and pray that if they drop the bomb,
    They drop it on the Viet Cong.

    And it’s one, two, three,
    What are we fighting for?
    Don’t ask me, I don’t give a damn,
    Next stop is Vietnam.
    And it’s five, six, seven,
    Open up the pearly gates,
    Well there ain’t no time to wonder why
    Whoopee! we’re all gonna die.

    Well, come on mothers throughout the land,
    Pack your boys off to Vietnam.
    Come on fathers, don’t hesitate,
    Send ’em off before it’s too late.
    Be the first one on your block
    To have your boy come home in a box.

    And it’s one, two, three
    What are we fighting for?
    Don’t ask me, I don’t give a damn,
    Next stop is Vietnam.
    And it’s five, six, seven,
    Open up the pearly gates,
    Well there ain’t no time to wonder why,
    Whoopee! We’re all gonna die.

    Peace. :))

    1. Piergiorgio,

      That is one of my favorite songs from that concert and I propose that we use a Hookah pipe. We can also follow up Country Joe with another artist from that concert. Do you know Who that would be…

      “Hey you smoking Mother Nature… this is a bust.”

      Anyone else want to join?

      Thanks.

      Andrew

  48. ‘lo all. 😀

    It’s turned into a bit of a grumpy Meldrew type scenario on this one. If the earnings of what took place were to be diagnosed, Jimi would probably come top.

    I think the love comes through on this – Richie Havens’ moment.

    Respect to a great British eccentric too. Sir Stanley Unwin.

  49. I now live in a small village Upstate New York and am 38 years old. I recently talked to many individuals who drove over to Woodstock; I wanted to get their stories and thoughts. Some that I talked to were in the military before or after, some weren’t, none are urban professionals, most are very small town tradesman.

    Thee main thing they all said (obviously paraphrased): When they heard who some of the bands would be and some of the rumored bands to show up, they could not stay home. They all went specifically for the music. Most of them smoked pot, all of them drank, a few did Acid. None of them did any drugs for the first time there and all of them said that they really didn’t behave any differently than normal and most still live a similar lifestyle now. At least half of them had purchased tickets.

    I just thought some of you might like some local anecdotal opinions.

  50. 😡 Hi Everyone,

    Well, to this day I am sorry my husband and I didn’t make it to the Woodstock festival. We got to a certain point on the NYS Thruway and then it was bumper to bumper traffic, no movement at all. Being pregnant with 2 small daughters with us, we had no choice but to exit and beat it on home. When we later saw the conditions there, etc, it was a good thing we didn’t get there, but I understand a good time was had by so many people.

    The act I really wanted to see was “The Band”. However I really don’t think it was a place to bring the kiddies, but none of us knew this at the time, it was just supposed to be a big outdoor music festival.

  51. A stand out performance for me was Ten Years After. I don’t think anyone mentioned them here.

    Thanks.

    Andrew

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