Especially for those of us who weren’t alive or there, the original Woodstock festival continues to take on a mythologized utopianism. Forty years later, it’s as strong as ever, and due to where its arrival fits in the continuum of time, it may be set for good.
It’s almost in and from this odd, time immemorial phase of the music industry as it’s become known today.
No, 1969 is not technically that long ago, but there were a lot of drugs used back then; and let’s face it, a lot of the people that fit the “target market” of the Woodstock of 1969 can only tell us how good it all was. Therefore, studying Woodstock is not going to get any easier. So as we live in this fortieth anniversary year of the original event, I’m reminded to learn more about August 15-18, 1969 on Max Yasgur’s Farm in New York State. That combined time-frame and location clearly changed the music industry for all of us.
To me, it’s tough to separate Woodstock and politics. There is something special about the way you can still hear culture’s voice from that era through the (thankfully) recorded music we have access to.
From his book Remembering Woodstock, by Andy Bennett.
In the original 1969 Woodstock, rock music rode on the back of the politics and not vice versa. The event was envisioned as participatory, non-commercial and counter-cultural, with music being the cultural prism for already existing social movements. Abbie Hoffman, notorious political activist of that period, saw it as epitomizing a part of an ongoing social revolution which was ‘not something fixed in ideology, nor is it something fashioned to a particular decade. It is a perpetual process embedded in the human spirit.’ Yet, of course, there were issues specific to the period: at that time, ‘the civil rights and anti-war movements engaged millions of people in the politics of direct action primarily on the strength of the issues themselves.’ In turn, the politics influenced the style and form of the music itself.