THE “WOODSTOCK MUSIC & ART FAIR” MUSIC FESTIVAL DREW 500,000 PEOPLE TO UPSTATE NEW YORK IN 1969
Hippies suck! Forty years later your grandparents are still trying to convince you how cool they are and how much they rocked.
Enough with the Woodstock crap, already.
All weekend long America has been subjected to story after story after story about the “Woodstock Music & Art” musical festival which happened 40 years ago this weekend. The CBS Evening News just ran a Woodstock feature minutes ago. One of the guys in the piece described Woodstock as “the highlight of my life.” Another man went on and on about how he wants to be buried there. ABC, NBC, CNN, and MSNBC also ran Woodstock features. So did Time magazine, the New York Times and every other media outlet on the face of the earth.
Even the Fox News Channel did an extended interview with Richie Havens (Woodstock’s opening act) where the reporter doing the standup literally genuflected to Havens. He babbled on about what a superstar and music legend Richie Havens was. Really? Maybe the reporter thought he was talking to Richie Valens. Can you name one Richie Havens song? In reality, listening to Havens sing “Freedom” for 47 minutes is a living monument to Nancy Reagan and “Just Say No.” You literally have to be on drugs to listen to it. Just like you have to be on drugs not to notice that the opening act for Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock was freakin’ Sha Na Na. That’s right, Bowser opened for Hendrix. What the hell, drop enough acid and you’ll never notice the difference.
In terms of pure music, the legendary “Woodstock” concert was NOT one of the top 40,000 concerts in history. Seriously. Virtually zero of the top musical acts of 1969 were there. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Doors, Led Zeppelin and Bob Dylan weren’t there. The concert was passed on by The Moody Blues for God’s sake. In fact, virtually every act that you think was at Woodstock wasn’t there. Even Joni Mitchell, who wrote the song “Woodstock,” wasn’t at Woodstock. She thought it was more important to tape The Dick Cavett Show that weekend. So much for cultural significance.
Woodstock absolutely WAS NOT the defining moment of the ’60s. If it were, how come none of the country’s top musicians, journalists, celebrities, pop culture figures, actors, writers or politicians were there? If Woodstock were such a big deal, where was Life magazine or Norman Mailer? Or Andy Warhol. How about Soupy Sales? Did Hunter S. Thompson go to Woodstock? Answer: HELL NO. Even groupies skipped the event. Woodstock became a famous event solely for two reasons:
1.) Reporters are lazy
2.) Nothing is considered important if it happens west of New York
In reality, Woodstock was simply the first rock concert that was ever covered by the New York Times. It’s also reality that the paper covered Woodstock SOLELY as a traffic inconvenience to its readers. The peace/love “defining-the-’60s” theme was 100% revisionist history. The NYT was simply late to the party (much like how the LA Times recently did a feature on Perez Hilton because all the kids these days are talking about The Internet.) Do you know how you can tell the New York Times didn’t know what the hell they were talking about in their Woodstock coverage? Because “Woodstock” didn’t even take place in Woodstock, New York as the Times wrote about. It took place in Bethel.
Rock music, drugs and “music festivals” had been going on for an entire decade before Woodstock. Congratulations to the New York Times for discovering The Sixties in August of 1969! Fine journalistic work there, Fred.
Dylan first played the Monterey International Pop Festival in 1963. Monterey drew 200,000 people in 1967. The New York Times just didn’t cover it.
Plus, we know how awful the music at Woodstock was because it was recorded. I actually sat through the Woodstock movie. Twice. It’s horrible. I also owned the Woodstock and Woodstock II albums which I haven’t listened to in 20 years. Do you know why? Because they suck. The Who was at Woodstock. Roger Daltrey called it the “worst concert” the band ever played. Maybe it was because somebody put acid in their drinks. John Fogerty claims that NOBODY was paying attention when CCR went on stage at Woodstock except one guy with a Bic lighter “a quarter mile away.”
In fairness, even though most of music’s top acts skipped Woodstock, they did have Bert Sommer, Tim Hardin, Quill and the Keef Hartley Band. And who can forget Sweetwater?
If you watch the Woodstock movie, the biggest stars of Woodstock, (the most popular acts) were Arlo Guthrie, Country Joe and the Fish and Ravi Shankar. You know, there’s a reason sitar music never really caught on.
There’s one other thing you won’t read about Woodstock in the history books. It also wasn’t mentioned in a single major media story recounting the event. Much like Ivory soap, the concert was 99.44% white. Other than Hendrix, there was exactly ONE other African-American act at Woodstock. In 72 hours of live music, the concert’s promoters apparently couldn’t think of any black artists to invite. James Brown was not invited to play Woodstock. Nor was Ray Charles. It never even occured to the promoters to invite Michael Jackson and The Jackson Five. So much for brotherhood. Woodstock even managed to book a blues act that was white. In fact, I have never seen a television interview with anyone who attended the event who WASN’T white. Have you?
Sure, I’ve blasted hippies in this article. But, at least I don’t HATE them. Not like Bob Dylan. Dylan was THE top American music act of his day. He was certainly invited to perform at Woodstock. Why didn’t he attend Woodstock? Well, first, no band or performer got more than $15,000 for playing at Woodstock. More importantly, Bob Dylan “hated hippies.” Seriously, that was the stated reason for his skipping Woodstock. You don’t have to believe me. It’s on page 116 of The Dylan Chronicles: Volume One.
Proving, once again, hippies suck!