Sunday, August 16, 2009
Woodstock: Four Decades On
Forty years ago this weekend nearly half a million people of my generation assembled in the fields of Max Yasgur’s farm, Bethel, upstate NY, for an “Aquarian Exposition” of peace, love and music. The rest, as they say, is history. I wasn’t there. I was however running around the home counties of the British Isles in my pre-undergraduate year absorbing as much popular music culture as possible. News of “Woodstock”, the Mother of all Festivals, travelled quickly across the Atlantic and when the eponymous film by Michael Wadleigh was released a few months later (actually I think it was 1970 in the UK) I rushed up to see it at one of the large screen cinemas in Leicester Square. To this day I still have some reservations about the musical choices made by the director but there is no question about the pioneering and cineamatographic techniques which are still stunning and also that film accurately captures the zeitgeist of that time.
Now, when I watch Woodstock I must confess to feeling quite emotional. The music defined an era and it's wonderful that many of the performers are still going strong viz Paul Kantner and various Jefferson iterations, Arlo Guthrie, Richie Havens, Alvin Lee, Carlos Santana, Townsend-Daltery et al. While our lustrous locks and youthful looks are long gone, I hope that some of the values of my generation -societal awareness, peace, social justice and the belief that the status quo can be changed, still exist and that we have passed successfully the baton of idealism to our children.
The image above is from the end credits of the film (the Director’s cut) -it’s great advice and I feel a strong sense of obligation to heed it closely.
We may be greying but there’s plenty of life in us yet. Hell, yeah!