Woodstock – 50 Years Later

Woodstock, August 1969, the world’s most iconic festival – remembered for its cultural significance, great music and message of 'love and unity'. A look into its history, however, will also reveal some less flattering sides. Woodstock’s later reincarnations had their shortcomings and 'Woodstock 50' never saw the light of day.


So what about the ‘Three days of nothing but Peace & Love’?

If you look at it on paper, one could say that the festival certainly had its … issues. Woodstock lacked in basic food and water supplies, sanitary facilities and medical resources, transportation logistics and many other areas of organisation.

They had one toilet for every 833 people with people opting to take their business wherever they saw fit. No blue portable loos, no food trucks selling gluten free Halloumi fries, “Glamping” tents or V.I.P passes … Instead, lots of mud, spiked drinks and tripping teenagers.

According to one nurse, burned eyeballs were actually a thing at the festival. They appeared to have resulted from kids on LSD who would lie down on their backs and just stare at the sun.

Not even the artists and stage staff had a particularly easy job to keep the show running. Delays due to bad weather and a plethora of technical problems caused some artists like the Grateful Dead to call their show the worst performance they ever delivered. 

If things like that happened today you could expect „money back“ claims, lawsuits and calls for health and safety galore. Not to mention all the cases of, should we say, public indecency.

Then there is the fact that Woodstock certainly wasn’t the first, the only or even the biggest festival of its kind. Bob Dylan left the States only a day before Woodstock to play the Isle of Wight festival, which had an estimated 600 000 visitors, surpassing the attendance of Woodstock by 200 000.

Last but not least, the artist line up, while excellent, lacked the most popular acts of that time, like the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin or Dylan.

Then why is Woodstock viewed as the “Most important Music Festival of All Time”? 

Well, we haven’t been there, weren’t even born back then. All we have is second-hand information – from reading stories and interviews, from listening to its music and watching the documentary, and from talking to people who experienced this event from their personal viewpoint. 

There is no denying that there was something special happening between the artists and the audience. A kind of „we’re in this together“ thing. People seemed to view it as a manifest of “their” cultural movement.

Considering all that, it looks to us like a victory of imagination over reality. 

Obviously, enough people wanted Woodstock to be an example of love, understanding and peaceful togetherness, so it became one. Despite all the problems, or maybe just because of them. 

It was an adventure. There had been obstacles to overcome, problems to solve and statements to make … “Woodstock” as a whole became the statement. Against the Vietnam War, the establishment, intolerance, … and for “peace and love” (we only mention the constructive ones here). In that case, less seemed to be more. A lack of organisation led to people organising themselves and even having a good time doing so.

When we wrote Once Upon A Time we took all the positive and inspiring aspects we feel about that time, or even just shamelessly implied them, as did many others before us. We are in good company there.

If Woodstock wasn’t about honest music, brotherhood, peace & love, it at least could or maybe even should have been so.

What do you think? Did you attend, do you know people who did … or have you experienced it as a contemporary witness from somewhere else in the world?
Are people just romanticising a failed social experiment or has it been this example of peace and solidarity we should all learn from? How did you see it back then and how do you view it now?
And lastly, we are curious about what people of our generation think about the Woodstock phenomenon.
We’re looking forward to reading from all of you in the comments below!


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Margaret Sharpeezz
9 days ago

cool

Andrew Zeegers
3 months ago

hey, great song! And I haven’t been to Woodstock, I was eleven years old in the Netherlands. But I had a drumkit made up of soap-boxes en lids of cooking-pans and played it withy the knitting needles of my mum. But in my experience I was there, on stage playing the drums with Ten Years After and the Who! I made a lot of noise!
We were all certain that Woodstock would change the world, and I still am convinced. The Age of Aquarius has begun! Never give up and hold your faith!

Joseph Manzi
6 months ago

Hello, I attended the Woodstock Festival Aug 15 – 18. It cost me $ 18.00 dollar for three days of music. In the end it was like 3 1/2 days. It was one of the greatest event of my life. All the acts that appeared. I went with three other friends. I member it like it was yesterday. We took a bus from Port authority New York. We got as far as Bethal White Lake. The traffic was at a stand still. We walked the rest of the way to the concert site. It seemed to take forever to get… Read more »

Bob Galella
1 year ago

Guess what? I was there!!! It was the summer before my sophomore year in college. I am glad that you allow us to add pictures, you may be interested in seeing these:
My friends and I were there for Saturday and Sunday and were upset when they made it a free concert – we got ripped off for $14.00,

Bob Galella
1 year ago

Check out my Introduce myself. There is a picture of my Woodstock tickets. Original ones ladies

John Paval
John Paval
1 year ago

The thing about Woodstock was that it served as the focal point for a kind of cultural revolution which was happening at the time, one which many thought would lead to a political revolution, but that was not to be. And I think this is what leads to the disappointment when you look back at the movements of the 1960s, that they failed to change the world in a political sense, although they did lead to cultural changes. The most tragic failure of those movements was the peace movement. Nowadays, the kind of peace movement which existed in the late… Read more »

Dave Oxborrow
Dave Oxborrow
1 year ago

Like your “Once upon a time” song, as to be expected, very good and well done. Now, I am old enough to have been to Woodstock except I lived in the wrong part of the world and doubt if my parents would have considered stumping up for an air fare. Woodstock was a long time ago and am not desperately sorry that it was missed. I will contact you with our experiences of growing up in this era but will have to transport my self back in time to relive the feelings and lifestyle we then had. It was a… Read more »

Ademir Manzato
1 year ago

Well, I’m not of your generation, but you seemed to be of mine (due to your taste of music, of course). It’s interesting to think about it now. I’ve changed a lot since then, but my essence is the same. I was 13 years old when Woodstock took place. I was a shy teen with some difficult to get along with others people. It seemed that some Lennon’s lyrics, as “I’m a loser” and “I don’t want to spoil the party”, were writing for me. What a loser! I don’t remember when I first heard about the Festival. Probably I… Read more »

Ron
Ron
1 year ago

I was too young to attend. I supposed Woodstock was so great because it was all in the people’s minds that attended the festival. How can anyone remembered what happen with all the drugs. I suppose one of the unique thing about Woodstock I remembered watching in a documentary about how Jimi Hendrix right before he went stage they installed hand-wound pickups in his electric guitar. Jimi Hendrix blew everyone away! I believe they were Seymour’s. Jimi’s guitar’s neck turned into a “snake” so he thought, he just kept on playing. He wasn’t supposed to go on stage at the… Read more »

Dave Cornelius
1 year ago

Always great to hear your original material as well as your covers. You have captured much of the 60’s and 70’s sound and this song is no exception. I wasn’t at Woodstock, but at 73, I remember the time well (or at least as well as some of my contemporaries). Keep up the good work.

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