IF I SANG OUT OF TUNE? I don’t know where I was 50 years ago today but it wasn’t Woodstock. Oh, to be there though.
August of 1969 was the end of the summer after high school for me. Probably, I was giving some thought to heading off to college in a few weeks. Along with my release from high school in May, was the release of the album, “Crosby, Stills & Nash”. One thing I know for sure about the summer of ‘69, that album was my favorite and it’s still in my top five in the category of “albums by bands other than the Beatles”.
Seems like the best, credible estimate of crowd size at Woodstock was 400,000. And the line goes: if you count all of those who said they were at Woodstock the number goes up to 4 million, give or take a million.
I wasn’t the only one not there who would like to have been there. Joni Mitchell, the folk singer was not there either. She did, however, write the song that has sort of become the anthem for the phenomenon called “Woodstock” and most famously recorded by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.
I came upon a child of God
He was walking along the road
And I asked him where are you going
And this he told me
I'm going on down to Yasgur's farm
I'm going to join in a rock 'n' roll band
I'm going to camp out on the land
I'm going to try an' get my soul free
We are stardust
We are golden
And we've got to get ourselves
Back to the garden
(first verse and chorus)
I watched a special about the festival on PBS the other day. It was done as a day by day chronicle of the “Three Days of Peace & Music”. As they got to day three, I found myself feeling a bit wistful; not because the final scenes were mainly of bedraggled kids in a muddy mess, but because the festival was drawing to a close, and somehow it seemed something else was closing too. I don’t know what it was. Probably something that could not have endured anyway.
One of the bucket list stops on our extended Airstream roadtrip when I retire is Bethel, New York, to visit Max Yasgur’s dairy farm, to stand where the festival took place. I don’t know why, but I want to stand on that spot.
For now: how best to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the beginning of Woodstock? Maybe I convince my Amazing-Missus to put on a pair of bell-bottom jeans and we’ll stand in the backyard, turn on the sprinkler and listen to Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and, of course, Crosby, Stills and Nash with the bluetooth speaker turned all the way up.
Or maybe we’ll string some beads, tie dye a shirt and watch “Wheel Of Fortune”.