Woodstock Notes: 1969 to 2009
Talking ’bout my Generation
This August will mark the fortieth anniversary of Woodstock, the historic festival at Bethel, New York where some of the greatest musicians of my generation performed; Joan Baez, Janis Joplin, The Who, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, the Grateful Dead and many others.
There were hundreds of cars moving at a snail’s pace up the road to Yasgur’s farm in a never-ending motorcade with thousands of people walking alongside in a wavy stream of humanity. People of all races, ages and strata of society; families with infants and toddlers, pregnant women, elderly couples, bikers, college students and working people all came with the same ideal in mind: To prove to the world that people can come together in peace no matter their political, religious or philosophical differences.
This was a turbulent time; the world was blowing up for my generation. We lost trust in authority figures. Shining lights were put out by the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy. There were marches in Selma, the race riots, bombings, and a very vocal and violent opposition to the Vietnam War.
As I roamed through the crowds over that weekend of August 17–19th, 1969 I saw the power of the Peace Sign exhibited many times. The townspeople were overwhelmed by the size of the crowd that came to Woodstock. Nobody expected this kind of turnout. There certainly were problems and outbursts but on the whole the power of that symbol won out.
The other day I saw a young woman wearing a jean jacket with ‘Woodstock 69’ on the back of it. It made me smile. Now there is a revival of the musical Hair on Broadway and store windows are decorated with themes from the sixties.
Forty summers have come and gone but the world is not a better place. Terrorists are wreaking destruction and death from Bali to Mumbai. Bombs are exploding in some of the major capitals of the world. The Iraq and Afghanistan wars are tearing apart the fabric of these societies and exposing the deep-rooted religious and tribal hatreds. Anti-war demonstrators across the world are proliferating and we are in the midst of a global recession.
So bring out the old peace symbols if you must, let’s sing The Age of Aquarius and maybe, just maybe for the sixtieth anniversary of Woodstock someone will be able to write how the world has changed for the better and is at peace.