I haven’t blogged in like months. Wow. Well, the holidays came and went and for the second year in a row, my family, bo and I visited the Bethel Woods Center, the museum and venue which now stands on the site of Woodstock in 1969.
It is a religious experience for my parents and for me in that you can feel the essence of those times still thumping and pumping through the veins in the earth there. The museum is gorgeous and well-done and included hundreds of quotes, artifacts, full-size period vehicles decked out in great flower power paint jobs and lots and lots of clips and films showcasing a lot of the concert. Two rooms have at least 18 ft. screens showing footage and actual performances. My favorite, Joe Cocker, the tie-dyed Brit with his blue leather starred beatle boots opens the film show, as I laugh continually at his idiomatic mannerisms and gestures when performing. As a young person, I became enamored with the music and styles of the 1960’s thanks to a pair of hippie parents equally enamored. Spouting every word when tapes and records were on, the second concert of my life was The Monkees at ten or eleven.
I only wish that my generation and the one younger could react to the current climate in some way similar to that of the Sixties and Seventies. The music, art, literature, and ideologies that emerged from the time of Woodstock brought forth a fervent youth so potent, that change actually came about. These days technology is shielding us from each other and ourselves. We have grown into a “me” culture, hellbent on satisfying our own needs, mostly shallow and selfish. Technology is simultaneously bringing us together and pushing us far far apart. We have lost touch with spirit, sensation, honesty, purity, and singlemindedness in communication. Things claiming they want to bring us together are more so hoping we buy the products advertised in the same places we hope to share time. Life has lost it’s beauty, it’s simplicity, it’s depth, and it’s emotion. I only wish I didn’t have a phone glued to my side all day. I only wish people still called one another and spent time without looking at work emails. We used to connect so much harder and stronger without all of this stuff clogging the airwaves and our brains. Music wasn’t only about creating a complicated algorithm to sell a record in the Sixties. Many many many musicians expelled tunes that were directly in line to their political and social beliefs and dreams. Music was made to create peace, understanding, comradery, hope, anger, outrage. It wasn’t even made, it was often an artistic outlet or even almost regurgitation of feeling. It was pure emotion more oft than not with Richie Havens improvising “freedom” while onstage at Woodstock, a direct anthem for black America and youth in general. Jim Morrison sang of shamanism and death, exposing his need for escapism in music and in life. Janis Joplin’s lyrics might have been simpler, but her raging screams brought light to a fighting angry soul within. Simon and Garfunkel’s peaceful lullabies told us tales of proposed quiet and rest, narratives of the marijuana culture that so desperately searched for life to be a lovely journey. Music was an escape, a newspaper headline, a beating heart trying to get yours to beat along, a lullaby for political sleep, a draft-dodging credo, enlightenment, it was electric and transitory and completely changed what it had been before. There were top 40 songs and there were the DJ’s who gave others a chance, seeing merit in something other than money. Live concerts, like today were experiences together, feelings had in tandem. With hands linked, arms outstretched to the sun, voices raised, and fervor brewing, the children of the 1960’s rocked our world. Why can’t we do that again?