Welcome to the Woodstock - Preservation Archives
Dedicated to the Historic Preservation of the Site of the 1969 Woodstock Festival
THE WOODSTOCK SITE
Hurd & West Shore Rds
|The Spirit Does Live On
In Joni Mitchel’s lyrical homage to Woodstock, her words "and we’ve got to get ourselves back in the garden" do not mean falling into a static dead letter pile of unvital statistics, but an actual and eternal metaphor for freedom and true humanism. An awakened human whose mandala is enriched and nourished by the textures of art, music, spirit, love and passion. "Drugs, Sex, and Rock and Roll" were and are the anthem that needs not be distorted by the historic revisionists that want to eliminate the message of the 60's. For us that have stayed sober to its meaning, we know that the flag we wave stands for the same traditional values that have represented the finest aspects of all higher cultures throughout thousands of years of time including Indian, Pagan, Greek, and the many, many Goddess and other earth friendly indigenous tribes and individuals.
Woodstock is our tribe and the Aquarian Festival our own Mecca. A pilgrimage that continues with how we chose to act, react, think, and feel.
At the time of the concert I was 17 and living in North Carolina. Along with 3 other friends we drove up just in time to be stuck in the mammoth traffic jam surrounding the site, but excited with the energy to walk the several miles to Max Yasgar’s farm among the other growing numbers of brothers and sisters heading for our magnificent family reunion. The first realization of different realities ahead was the crowd telepathy which prevailed on such a grand level. People were showing huge empathy with each other as well as in sharing whatever they could for accommodation. As we crossed the line designating the concert to be free, a fresh breath of responsibility shed off the veil of commodity exchange based relationships and in return there manifested true love and respect for each other and the community that we were a part of.
As to my adventures at the concert, what experiences I do recall are similar to many other testimonies. Totally impressed by the bass player to Mountain, learning how to spell the "F" word by Country Joe, sleeping through most of the Dead set (even though many of the younger fans now would welcome stoning me alive for it), but waking up to see the Who drill their way through Tommy, Sly Stone’s family exuberance, and Grace Slick make us all feel at home with her greeting of "Good Morning People." I shared the heroic experience of most in being able to stay awake for the 3 days of magic to witness the amazing finale of Jimi playing as the crowds slowly headed onward.
A couple of months ago I went up to Wavy Gravy at a rock poster exhibition in San Francisco where I thanked him for turning my life around in so many ways. During an especially tortuous moment at the festival when the storms had ravaged our energies and the whispers of Nixon’s helicopters dropping poisoned candy bars as tainted "care packages", the Hog Farm Commune was serving free food at its makeshift kitchen area. It was the first time I experienced granola and a health food attitude that opened up a better way of living for me. Other excursions into the forest behind the concert area were even more examples of political, spiritual, and artistic groups setting up information booths, educational outreaches, workshops, etc.
Another part of the full experience of Woodstock not covered too well in the movie was the way the Yasgar family took advantage of the plight of the masses caught in the storm. Max’s speech about how great the crowd of young people was, is quite inspirational and sincere. But as soon as the area was washed out by the rains, his wife was setting up a water hose to fill up people’s containers with tap water at 50 cents a bottle. Good old Yankee ingenuity.
At one point I felt illuminated to share the idea that we could pass around a huge box and if everyone there donated whatever money they could spare, we could have enough millions of dollars to buy the adjacent land and create our own "Woodstock Nation". I dropped the idea after a few tokes and the reaction of enough people that I approached who told me that it was a silly notion since "the whole world would soon be like Woodstock". Who in their right minds indeed would not want to live a life of peace, love, and happiness?
So that brings me full circle in asking myself what did happen. Why did CSNY mean so much when they said "almost cut my hair" and "teach your children well?" Not wanting to violate the rights we learned to free _expression, I do not wish to condemn or judge anyone else in my opinion. Perhaps my perceptions are painted by my own life strokes and do not fit into the script of other paths in life. What I do know though is that I felt a commitment and sacred trust with the many that had gathered at Woodstock to never compromise the values that we were sharing that day. For me it has been a wonderful journey of being as true to the lifestyle then as today. Okay so my beard is now white and I can’t see the song titles on the cds too clearly, but I sure am glad to be listening still to Jimi Hendrix, Ritchie Havens and the rest of the troubadours of truth. And what is even more delightful is sharing the music with my children as well. Just like a work of art in a museum, a masterpiece remains timeless and is appreciated forever. Those days and the music the Muses inspired were not just shallow entertainment of the moment to fade among the fads of time, but to be respected and enjoyed as true blessings from above.
Just as with the "Woodstock" movie that we have seen several times, what a joy last night to watch the "Song Remains The Same" with our daughters and to be air guitaring and head shaking as vigorously as ever. Unfortunately a dark cloud came across too many of the people that at that time were at Woodstock or were influenced by it. Concern for others and the planet became a passing fad. Fear of not being able to pay credit card bills for useless junk rather than live out of the system, home school the children, still sit on the back fence of the farm playing music and singing with friends. Fear of this and fear of that have turned too many of our generation into today’s sheeple. I feel that if one still has a breath left, they can look in the mirror then close your eyes and remember what it felt to be alive at Woodstock. Take a stand. Don’t be a hippy-crite but a "born again hippie" my friend. It’s your one and only life so do it right for your sakes and for your children’s. Sit down and tell them the truth about those times. Tell them about how mushrooms can lead to inspiration as well as delicious pasta sauce. How good it feels to give and share rather than drop bombs and steal. Tell them what they can gain by hearing those interesting musical clues in the good songs we know so well. Tell them why it’s fine to let your hair drop freely down your back, wear old clothes and live close to nature and not be trapped by the 9-5 rat race. Oral tradition is an important need to be passed down through the generations. All you need to know was and is right there in Woodstock. I would cherish the opportunity to relive every moment of those days and feel it to be as true to who I am then as to who I am now.
Awhile back I had the honor to meet Swami Satchidananda, the Indian holy man who demonstrated to the crowd on stage between a set change how to do yogic breathing. I jokingly told him that I had thought him to be a rock musician at the concert. Whereupon this saintly old man picked up a couple of rocks from the ground and kept banging them together while hopping around and singing "it’s true I was and am a rock musician still". And indeed the Spirit does live on.
Peace, Love, and Justice
Used with Permission
Edited for this website