“Forty-Five Years Gone”

Woodstock_poster
“By the time we got to Woodstock

We were half a million strong

And everywhere there was song and celebration

And I dreamed I saw the bombers

Riding shotgun in the sky

And they were turning into butterflies

Above our nation.”

“Woodstock” – 1969 –Joni Mitchell

This month marks the 45th Anniversary of The Woodstock Music and Art Fair at Max Yasgur’s 600-acre farm in Bethel, New York from August 15th to 18th, 1969.

They were all there – 32 acts in all – including Janis Joplin/The Who/Sly and the Family Stone/Arlo Guthrie/Joan Baez/ Country Joe/ Santana/John Sebastian/Canned Heat/Mountain/The Grateful Dead/Creedence Clearwater/Jefferson Airplane/Joe Cocker/Country Joe/Ten Years After/The Band/Johnny Winter/Blood Sweat & Tears/Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Sha Na Na and Jimi Hendrix — closing the show Monday morning over a field of emulsified mud with his now iconic version of the National Anthem.

On my office wall here in Oakhurst is an unused Woodstock ticket — #00279 – comfortably priced at a hardly outrageous eight dollars – good for “One Admission Only” all day and night Sunday, August 17th.

I didn’t make the event. We had our own vibrant Rock & Roll music scene exploding back in Michigan, where two months earlier I had produced the first of what was to become many outdoor concerts at a place just outside Flint named “Sherwood Forest”, a several hundred acre complex owned by another farmer – this one named Don Sherwood. We called these gatherings “Wild Wednesdays.” They ran through 1974 headlining such artists as Bob Seger, Alice Cooper, Ted Nugent, REO Speedwagon, Blue Oyster Cult, Chuck Berry, Montrose, MC5, Joe Walsh, Badfinger, Spooky Tooth, Grand Funk Railroad, Bloodrock, Iggy & The Stooges, Question Mark and The Mysterians, Stevie Wonder, Parliament and Funkedelic, The Ides of March and Mitch Ryder.

WildWednesday.com will tell you more than you would ever want to know.

It was particularly fitting that CNN’s outstanding series on “The Sixties” last week headlined, “Sex, Drugs & Rock & Roll” in offering extensive coverage of the “Woodstock” phenomenon – properly acknowledging its triumphantly unique and lasting impact on worldwide culture — then so sadly concluding with innocence lost barely four months later in the knifings and deaths at Altamont Speedway.

I watched the program with an unanticipated rush of unsettled emotion — so many milestone recollections unavoidably enshrouded with wistful recognition and resigned acknowledgement that all things inevitably pass away – the good with the bad and all in between.

And how can those young rock stars today look so – so – so — not young? I can’t bring myself to write the “O’ word. It’s like looking in the mirror.

It had all seemed so natural – so spontaneous – so authentically automatic.

Maybe it’s me, but this particular summer of 2014 sure doesn’t seem to have as many of those “Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days” Nat “King” Cole sang so joyfully about back in ’63 when I graduated from college. “Soda and pretzels and beer?” Nah. We face paralyzing political polarity, escalating climatological catastrophe, the savage evolution of ISIS and crisis upon crisis. Now Robin Williams is gone.

Institutional memory in and out of government has been lobotomized and obliterated by greedy gamblers occupying the highest echelons of global finance – rigging the system — manipulating the masses — buying politicians seemingly cheaper by the dozen.

There are rare exceptions.

I ask that you pay attention to Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. If Hillary falters, Senator Warren could be our first lady President.

Maybe just in time.

For Woodstock and “The Sixties” still call those with hopeful hearts.

“We are stardust
We are golden
And we’ve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden.”

2 Responses to ““Forty-Five Years Gone””

  1. James Lay Says:

    can you post pics. and how?

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