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Any Major Woodstock

August 15th, 2019 Leave a comment Go to comments

 

This week it will be the 50th anniversary of the Woodstock Festival. No reader of this site needs to be lectured about the cultural impact of the festival, though musically the Monterrey festival two years earlier offered much greater rewards, and musical impact, than Woodstock (which, it must be said, was a bit light on black music).

The genius of Woodstock didn’t reside so much in the music as it did in the nature of the event: nearly half a million people coming together and just getting along with one another and helping the neighbour — even in times of crisis, such as the rainstorm or the food crisis.

Remarkable, when food ran out, the local people collected food to feed these crowds of the counterculture; their political opposites. Imagine that today!

Woodstock made idealism come alive, if only for three days, amid rain, mud, food shortages, unsanitary conditions, traffic chaos, incompetent organisation, financial ruin (for the organisers), and bad smells.

The present mix includes songs of every artist who appeared at Woodstock, in the order they performed. Most of the songs here were played at Woodstock, though here and there I inserted tracks recorded around the time of the festival (some put to record or released after Woodstock but performed at the festival). So this isn’t some kind of recreation of the setlist — which can be read HERE) but more of a selective snapshot of rock music around the time, taking the Woodstock line-up as a framework.

A couple of songs were recorded after Woodstock about the festival: one of the two included by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, obviously, as well as those by Mountain (sort of), Melanie and Bert Sommer.

Getting to Woodstock was difficult, for patrons and acts alike. Traffic to the Max Yasgur’s farm at White Lake in Bethel (which is 70km or 43 miles from Woodstock) was gridlocked, not helped by the rotten weather.

The traffic and rain also played havoc with the organisation. Richie Havens opened the festival at 17:07 on August 15 with the featured song, replacing the act originally slated to kick off the proceedings, Sweetwater, who were still stuck in traffic. Folk singer Melanie, who was unbilled, took to the stage at 22:05 during a rainstorm because the Incredible String Band refused to for obvious reasons of safety.

Next day, Country Joe McDonald had to fill in with an acoustic set for Santana, who were unready to take the stage. Country Joe’s improvised set — he returned later with his band  — was a triumph; three months before Sesame Street debuted, he offered spelling lessons as when he introduced his Feel Like I’m Fixing To Die Rag. It’s one of the few actual Woodstock performances included here, alongside the tracks by Jimi Hendrix (with that breathtaking version of the US anthem, which evokes the horrors of the Vietnam War), Canned Heat, Sha-Na-Na and John Sebastian.

John Sebastian, formerly of Lovin’ Spoonful, was at Woodstock as a spectator. But as organisers waited for scheduled acts to arrive (some by helicopter), he was put on stage for a 25-minute set. Later, the Grateful Dead had to cut short their set when an amp blew. It was just as well, because they had overrun their slot. Creedence Clearwater Revival, who were up next, were unimpressed.

But consider that night: the Dead played into the new day. At half past midnight, CCR took over. At 02:00 Janis Joplin came on; at 3:30 Sly & The Family Stone; at 5:00 The Who, and at 8 in the morning, Jefferson Airplane. No need for sleep.

The show resumed less than six hours later with Joe Cocker’s set and closed at 11:10 next morning when Jimi Hendrix played his encore of Hey Joe. By then the once 400,000-strong crowd had shrunk to 30,000…

As mentioned above, Woodstock didn’t take place at Woodstock at all. The festival had the name before a venue was even found, though initial plans were to stage it around the New York state town of Woodstock as a promotional event for a recording studio that was never built.

And Max Yasgur, on whose farm the licentious vibe and anti-war sentiment found expression… he was a Republican who supported the Vietnam War. But he also supported freedom of thought.

Before the festival, he told the Bethel town council: “I hear you are considering changing the zoning law to prevent the festival. I hear you don’t like the look of the kids who are working at the site. I hear you don’t like their lifestyle. I hear you don’t like they are against the war and that they say so very loudly… I don’t particularly like the looks of some of those kids either. I don’t particularly like their lifestyle, especially the drugs and free love. And I don’t like what some of them are saying about our government.

“However, if I know my American history, tens of thousands of Americans in uniform gave their lives in war after war just so those kids would have the freedom to do exactly what they are doing. That’s what this country is all about and I am not going to let you throw them out of our town just because you don’t like their dress or their hair or the way they live or what they believe. This is America and they are going to have their festival.”

Until his death as 52 less than three years after the festival, Yasgur remained an unpopular man in town for having allowed these hippies on his farm.

Woodstock was a celebration of good vibes, the final hurrah of hippie sensibilities (unlike the 20th anniversary event in 1999, no sexual assaults were reported) that became emblematic of the 1960s counterculture. Less than half a year later, as the 1960s were about to give way to the 1970s, Altamont gave flower power the final stamp in the dirt. I wonder how many of those idealistic hippies of Woodstock turned out to be besuited neo-liberals…

This mix is timed to fit on two standard CD-R discs, with two home-grooved covers. PW in comments.

1. Richie Havens – From The Prison (1967)
2. Sweetwater – Why Oh Why (1968)
3. Bert Sommer – We’re All Playing In The Same Band (1969)
4. Tim Hardin – Don’t Make Promises (1966)
5. Ravi Shankar – Improvisation On Charly Theme (5:14)
6. Melanie (with The Edwin Hawkins Singers) – Lay Down (Candles In The Rain) (1970)
7. Arlo Guthrie – Oh, In The Morning (1969)
8. Joan Baez – I Shall Be Released (1968)
9. Quill – Too Late (1970)
10. Country Joe McDonald – Feel Like I’m Fixing To Die Rag (Live at Woodstock, 1969)
11. Santana – Jin-Go-Lo-Ba (1969)
12. John Sebastian – Younger Generation (Live at Woodstock, 1969)
13. Keef Hartley Band – Too Much Thinking (1969)
14. Incredible String Band – This Moment (1970)
15. Canned Heat – Woodstock Boogie (Live at Woodstock, 1969)

16. Mountain – For Yasgur’s Farm 1970)
17. Grateful Dead – St. Stephen (1969)
18. Creedence Clearwater Revival – Born On The Bayou (1969)
19. Janis Joplin – Piece Of My Heart (1968)
20. Sly and the Family Stone – Stand! (1969)
21. The Who – Pinball Wizard (1969)
22. Jefferson Airplane – Volunteers (1969)
23. Joe Cocker – Let’s Go Get Stoned (1970)
24. Country Joe And The Fish – Silver And Gold (1970)
25. Ten Years After – Love Like A Man (1970)
26. The Band – The Weight (1968)
27. Johnny Winter – Mean Town Blues (1969)
28. Blood, Sweat & Tears – I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know (1968)
29. Crosby, Stills & Nash – Long Time Gone (1969)
30. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – Woodstock (1970)
31. The Butterfield Blues Band – Morning Sunrise (1969)
32. Sha-Na-Na – At The Hop (Live at Woodstock, 1969)
33. Jimi Hendrix – Star Spangled Banner (Live at Woodstock, 1969)
34. Jimi Hendrix – Hey Joe (Live at Woodstock, 1969)

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  1. halfhearteddude
    August 15th, 2019 at 07:20 | #1

    PW = amdwhah

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