Forty years ago. Lots of people gathered for music and fun at Woodstock. It’s amazing that in the turbulent times of the late 60s when violence and protests were occurring throughout the world, that such a large gathering could be so peaceful. I guess that was what that generation was going for. At Woodstock we got an earful of the hippie’s mantra of peace, love, and happiness. (Not that that is a bad thing, mind you.) But let’s be serious, when it comes right down to it, it was mostly drugs that affected that crowd and the memory of that event. (Not the bad brown acid though as the crowd was told to keep away from that stuff.)

Looking back on the event now, many would say that a lot of the musicians who were there usually gave excellent performances. But they didn’t necessarily perform well during those three days. And some of the best acts of the day weren’t even there. Santana was peaking on mescaline during his performance. Others were high, too, or the weather affected the equipment, or they were out of tune. But do we think of Woodstock as a musical failure? No. Why not? Because the attendees were all high. And because the now baby boomer generation loves to look back on their youth and think that everything they did was the most groundbreaking, wonderful thing that any of us could ever imagine.

Forgive my mini rant here. As a gen Xer I’m tired of our nation being run by the boomers and now the millennials. My generation is doing some pretty neat things as well but we’re being overlooked. So get out of our way you anti-establishment, turned materialistic, ethics-lacking, social security sucking generation. We’ve elected an African-American president, worked our way through three or more recessions, upgraded to iPods, and now have to figure out how to survive without our retirement funds. If you still want to make a difference in this world, start with how we can afford you in your old age. I found a pretty funny quote that the WSJ wrote in 1969 after the festival. “It would be a curious America if the unwashed, more or less permanently stoned on pot or LSD, were running very many things.” 

So enough 21st century protesting (via blog). I was just a baby when this festival was going on. And I had a dorm mate in college whose parents took her to Woodstock as a baby. We’ve heard the stories, learned about equality and justice, loved the music (as heard through better recordings), and appreciate the sentiment of the time. I guess it’s always nice to look back at events that shaped our history. But as the stories my friends tell of our youth seem to grow and get more interesting than what really happened, I wonder how much of the past is revisionist fiction vs. just mud, bad music, and hallucinations. Happy 40th anniversary of Woodstock and by the way, Joe Cocker is awesome. Just ask my friends about my famous imitations of him.