Friday, August 14, 2009

Day 154/365 Let's Do the Time Warp

What do I remember about Woodstock?

Not a hell of a lot - not because I was there, but because my silly cousin wouldn't stop by and pick me up on her way there. Being 18, and enroute from California, she had this notion that my being 14 would lead to our parents chasing us down, thereby ruining any chance of her getting to the party.

She was probably right. So I had to satisfy myself with her secondhand stories.

Her memories are the usual hazy memories (very hazy): hitchhiking out of L.A., riding cross country with the same folks only to lose them in the traffic miles from the concert, a very, very long walk, lots of haze, lots of cool guys, incredible music that went on forever, more haze, a lot more cool guys, a Biblical deluge of rain, an equally Biblical amount of mud, the realization she should have brought a tent, then meeting people who would share theirs along with their haze, and then the long walk back out, and a less-than-direct route home to L.A. (owing to one of the cool guys she met).

Thanks to her, I didn't get to see Woodstock until the movie arrived at the local drive-in. Every freak in town turned out for it, and we more or less had our own little Woodstock to celebrate. The incomparable Santana (Soul Sacrifice), Country Joe and the ultimate anti-war song, Arlo Guthrie singing Amazing Grace - those were the standouts for me - oh, and of course Jimi playing The Star-Spangled Banner - I've never heard it again - ever- without hearing Jimi in my mind playing at Woodstock. And I wasn't even there.

I didn't really pay much attention to the 2nd Woodstock a few years ago (1994?1999?). It was lacking something.

See the difference is this: Woodstock was real. It was a spontaneous event. Versus being created as a pre-hyped commercial event.

Pre-hyped commercial events are controlled. They have big ticket gates, crowd control and assigned seating, food booths, souvenir T-shirts, printed programs and glow sticks for sale to wave at the appropriate moment. Pre-hyped commercial events are created to generate profit, not music. Woodstock was very vaguely started that way, and then the crowds took it over, and it evolved.

BTW - that whole tradition of waving your cell phone came from the waving of glow sticks, which came from waving your lighter, and before that, waving matches. Everyone had matches and lighters back then, usually in the center of an awful lot of haze.


  1. There are events that, even if we weren't there, we just know current renditions don't equal. It isn't the same.
    Only one festival I've been to has ever felt "right" - of course they were all great ... just not the same, not "right." Missing in the magic, too planned and pre-sold is usually the case.

  2. Definitely Carrie - there have been LOTS of great concerts and festivals -but the truly magic ones are rare.