Sunday, August 16, 2009

Woodstock: I didn't need another reason to wish I had been born 40 years earlier.

I am convinced that I was born 2 generations too late. I was born in 1981, which means I don't really fit in anywhere. I am technically a child of the 80s, but don't really remember a lot of the big events, trends, etc of that time. My nostalgia lies in the 90s, and really, what is there to be nostalgic about? TV was just OK, technology hadn't really emerged yet, and we didn't "DO" anything of great historical value. That's pretty much how I feel about my generation overall- what have we done?

I have always felt that I would be more comfortable if I had been born around 1940. That would put me in my late teens/early 20s around 1960, which is the time I would have been in my prime. The clothing, lifestyle and general attitude of the late 50s/early 60s is what I wish we still had. Not everything gave you cancer, you could discipline your children, and life was just easier. Sure, they were worried about the bomb, but how is that different from now?

This weekend is the 40th anniversary of the Woodstock Music & Arts Festival. In honor of that, I watched the Woodstock movie for the first time this weekend. When I say this film moved me, I mean it MOVED me. I almost can't put into words how much I wish I had been alive for this. The late 60s, though decidedly different in atmosphere than the early part of the decade, are still incredibly inspiring to me. To see half a million people coming together for the love of music and the message that we can do anything as a nation...that is something I don't think we've ever felt in our lifetime. 9/11 brought a glimmer of that, but it was quickly overshadowed by blame and apathy once more.

The music of the 60s is powerful like no other time. The earnest, love, and just the feeling of hope is just amazing. Throughout the 4 hours that this movie lasted (the TV version), I was moved to tears more times than I can count on my two hands. Joe Cocker's spastic, amazing version of "A Little Help From My Friends," Joan Baez singing "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" and talking about her husband who was in prison at the time but still confident that he would prevail. Richie Havens opening the show with just his acoustic guitar and his foot tapping out the beat. Hendrix playing the national anthem. Santana, who was apparently so strung out on mescalin that he thought the neck of his guitar was made of snakes, and still played amazingly well. And his drummer's solo....possibly the best performance of the whole weekend. The list goes on.

The audience interviews are amazing. Everyone's happy to be there, even when they are covered in mud and hungry and tired. They are all there for the experience; almost no one complains. The media tries to make it seem like it's a state of emergency, but really it's not. The government tries to send in the army, but still there is peace. Everyone's on drugs, and some people got hurt and a few unfortunately died, but overall the chaos is under control given the sheer amount of people in this field. Toward the end it seemed to unravel, but still there was so much love. For every person that freaked out because of a bad trip or just because it was overwhelming, there were 1000 people who knew it was going to be ok and just did what they need to do to help the people around them, whether that be food, emotional support or medical help. They were protesting the war through music, and boy did they make their point loud and clear. All you need is love...sometimes that really is true.

I am nothing if not passionate about music. During Santana's performance, there is a split screen of one girl in a striped shirt just standing there alone, with everyone else around her sitting, and she is just dancing like no one else is there. She doesn't have a care in the world; she doesn't need anything else. I think if I had been there, that would have been me.

Woodstock showed me the reality of a generation that felt they could do anything and used music to get their point across. Sure, it might have been the drugs talking. But kids today are on drugs too, just like my peers were when we were kids. And we've never done anything like this. We have nothing to leave behind in history that is of this magnitude. Woodstock is an amazing part of history and we'll never have anything like it again. We're too commercial now; this could never be pulled off today. It's sad, and it makes me nostalgic for a time that I never knew to begin with. Those hippies were really onto something.

Woodstock: 5 out of 5.

1 comment:

  1. I'm really glad you had a good experience watching Woodstock for the first time. I always feel very moved by it even though I don't have any love for the trust fund deadbeats that pass for hippies these days. My mom and dad were from that generation, but thankfully they didn't end up yuppies like so many of their peers did. they didn't end up flaky granola new age people either, just good old fashioned tried and true liberals, but I digress.

    You hit the nail on the head when you say that it couldn't happen now. I can't go to a show with like 20 people without someone acting like a complete douchebag. The hippies were onto something, but until people get their heads out of their asses and their pocketbooks, we'll never see it again.