Sunday, August 16, 2009

Woodstock - 40 years on

Forty years ago this weekend, the Woodstock Music & Art Fair was held at Max Yasgar's farm and the world has never forgotten.

Like most people of my generation, I'm sure I was there, (everyone else says they were, so I must have been, right?) Thanks to the album and the movie and Joni Mitchell's song, I have nice complete memories which seem like my own. If you don't remember it, you can find a pretty complete description of what happened on this Wikipedia entry.

Over at the Huffington Post this weekend, there are several articles about Woodstock and it's legacy. One I like was written by Paul Krassner who had a unique perspective for the event. Here's an excerpt:
While The Who were performing, [Abbie Hoffman] went up on stage with the intention of informing the audience that John Sinclair, manager of the MC5 and leader of the White Panther Party, was serving ten years in prison for the possession of two joints; that this was really the politics behind the music.

Before Abbie could get his message across, Peter Townshend transformed his guitar into a tennis racket and smashed him on the head with a swift backhand. Townshend had assumed that Abbie was just another crazed fan. When The Who played at Fillmore East the previous week, a plainclothes cop rushed on stage and tried to grab the mike. He intended to warn the audience that there was a fire next door and the theater had to be cleared, but he was able to do so only after Townshend kneed him in the balls.
But there was more to what was going on than just the escapades on stage. It was the end of an era and the beginning of a new one.

Krassner wraps up his piece with a nice image:
But the seeds that were planted then continue to blossom now. And the spirit of Woodstock continues to be celebrated at such events as the Rainbow Gathering, Burning Man, Earthdance, the Oregon County Fair, the Starwood Neo-Pagan Festival, Pete Seeger's Clearwater Festival, the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival, and yes, the electronic magic montage of musicians and singers around the globe performing "Stand By Me" on YouTube.
By the way, if you haven't watched that Stand By Me video yet, do it right now. It will make you feel good all over.


Dave said...

Some people have been having trouble posting comments, but it seems to be working at this site. Good thing.

Anonymous said...

I had trouble with the links...but looked up the Stand by! I hadn't seen that. The "One Love" recording is great too!