Saturday, August 17, 2019

Woodstock at 50

I was all of 5 years old in August 1969. So, everything I learned about Woodstock came from watching a scratchy version of the Documentary on cable TV in the 80's. Reading up on the festival at my local library was next.  And Rhino Records released a 2CD version in 1994, which made me hear the performances in a much better light than on the Documentary. Of course the iconic performances have been around my musical space for ages:  Santana, Joe Cocker, Jimi Hendrix, Ten Years After, Country Joe.

Making the rounds on PBS the month of the 50th anniversary is a 90 minute documentary titled Woodstock: Three Days That Defined a Generation.  It's probably the best behind the scenes look to come out.  Even more revelatory was the release of CCR's Live at Woodstock.  Not on the original Woodstock album that came out in 1970, because John Fogerty wasn't happy with the bands set.  Now heard 50 years on, it turns out to be a tight hour long set that catches them at their peak.

But what to make of the festival's image itself?  It's often seen as the last moment for the Peace, Love generation.  As the 70's came along that would be more obvious.  And Woodstock's lasting image has never taken a hit because of its place in a turbulent decade's final year.

Maybe the most lasting image, and one of the most famous photos ever,  which appeared on the cover of the soundtrack, is the young couple embracing each other while surrounded by numerous concert goers on the muddy ground.  Anyone cynical about Woodstock's legacy should take a hard look at that photo and see what the fuss was and is all about.
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