2021 Movie Draft- Round 8- Pick 7- Hanspostcard selects- music/musical- Woodstock.
A couple years ago there was a lot of buzz about the 50th anniversary of a music concert- it just wasn’t any concert it was about the most famous concert ever- Woodstock. One of the most iconic moments of the 1960s I believe in 48 more years with the 100th anniversary it will still be remembered and celebrated even though there will most likely be no one around who will have been there that weekend in August 1969.
I was eight years old at the time. I have no memory of it. I’ve been asked before by students when I was a teacher- ‘We’re you at Woodstock?” I don’t know how old they thought I was but ‘No, I wasn’t there.” To be honest even if I had been a dozen years older I would not have gone. I would probably have regretted not going afterwards. I do not like being stuck in big crowds. I have gone to hundreds of baseball games but you have a seat there, there is spacing. Same thing with concerts. The concerts I have problems with are the standing room deals- where I get surrounded. Even if its just a few hundred folks that gets me nervous. Being in a crowd of half a million- no thanks. I see the footage from that weekend and the first thing that comes to mind- too many people in too small of a space.
I have always wanted to visit the concert site and although I do a lot of traveling it seemed I was never close enough to Bethel, New York to just made a quick stop. A year and a half ago while on a vacation to New York and then into New England we made the time to stop and I was glad I did.
One of the miracles of this concert- as compared to many of the other festivals from that era is- the lack of any violence there. Why? I think one of the key factors is- when things started to get out of hand as far as the crowds go- the promoters wisely made it a free concert. Also the security there- was not the Hell’s Angels- but Wavy Gravy and his laid back crew who called themselves the “Please Force.” Another major factor- after having visited the site- is the site itself and its setting. The reason I had never gone there before is- it is out in the middle of nowhere- very rural setting. Laid back- and the concert goers I think responded to the rural back drop. Also it has been noted that while a number of locals may have been less than thrilled- the attitude for the most part seemed to have been a ‘this is happening- it will last three days and let’s make the best of it.’ How the locals responded was a major factor in the success of the weekend- their contributing and help in feeding and getting water to the concert goers. No one had imagined that this festival would turn out as big as it did. This big a thing was never planned.
As soon as we approached what was then Max Yasgur’s farm it was immediately recognizable. I can see why the organizers went for this place to hold the concert- a huge field with a gradual upgrade- a natural amphitheater. As big as the field is I expected much bigger. Up at the top of the hill they have a fairly new museum- about the 1960’s. The museum was well worth going through. It wasn’t crowded = again this is an off the beaten path place. I doubt it’s ever too crowded. We walked around to get views from different places on the field and we saw a guy who was giving a tour to an elderly couple. We were listening in- and it turns out the guy giving the tour was the director of the place and the elderly man- was someone who had something to do with the concert. Carlos Santana. Just kidding- the man was one of the accountants who worked for the promoters. We had a great conversation with them and then continued to walk around the site. I am not saying I’d make the trip again- but it was worth doing at least once.
There was a lot of awful things going on in the 1960s- assassinations, riots in the cities of America, The Vietnam War- but to me at least two events in 1969 were extremely positive- Apollo 11 going to the Moon and Woodstock.
I haven’t written anything about the movie- but its a great documentary covering all the aspects of the Woodstock Festival. The performances that stand out to me as far as music- Richie Havens and Jimi Hendrix. The thing that sticks out most in my mind though is all the people who were there and how everyone was just getting along. Today people seem to have no patience. Can you imagine being there? You would have to have had great patience getting there- and getting out afterwards and for about anything you did in between. But everyone seemed pretty cool. The version of the movie I would recommend is the director’s cut which is over 4 hours long.