As we metioned yesterday, the Woodstock Music And Arts Festival started on this weekend in 1969. The festival ran from the 15th through the 17th on Max Yasgur’s farm in the rural town of Bethel, NY. It’s widely regarded as one of, if not the most influential event in rock and roll history. Tickets for the three day event cost the princely sum of $18, but most didn’t pay for their tickets and for most intents and purposes, Woodstock has been considered a free event. Concert organizers had expected 200,000 patrons, but what they got was roughly 500,000(!). Obviously the festival was not prepared for such an enormous turnout, so water supply, toilet facilities, etc., were creature comforts the concert goers had to do without.
The festival started with Richie Havens plucking and singing his version of soulful folk music and wove through several different genres and styles throughout the weekend. Some of the highlights were: Crosby, Stills & Nash- performing an acoustic set and an electric set, Canned Heat, Janis Joplin, Santana, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Sly And The Family Stone, The Who (Yippie Activist, Abbie Hoffman stormed the stage and stole the microphone before it was regained), The Grateful Dead (whose set was marred by technical difficulties), Jefferson Airplane, Ten Years After, The Band, Paul Butterfield, and of course, Jimi Hendrix’s career defining early morning set.
The Beatles were asked to play, but John Lennon refused unless Yoko’s Plastic Ono Band could play as well. John and Yoko were turned down…Cold. Others that declined for various reasons were: The Doors, Led Zeppelin, Jethro Tull, Frank Zappa, Spirit, Bob Dylan, etc., etc.
The festival was filmed and released in 1970 as “Woodstock”.
Santana’s Soul Sacrifice:
Janis Joplin’s Try:
Joe Cocker’s With A Little Help From My Friends:
Ten Years After’s I’m Going Home:
Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit:
Crosby, Stills & Nash’s Suite: Judy Blue Eyes:
The Who’s Pinball Wizard:
Sly And The Family Stone’s I Want To Take You Higher:
….. and of course, Jimi Hendrix’s Voodoo Child:
Neil Young’s tries his hat once again as film director (credited as Bernard Shakey), in the 2008 release, Deja Vu, which documents CSN&Y’s 2006 tour.
Review from the Sundance Film Festival: In 2006, rock ‘n roll icons Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young played a “Freedom of Speech” tour to protest the war in Iraq. The band that wrote Ohio, one of the most famous protest songs of the Vietnam era, decided that the country needed a wake-up call, some of the same spirit of protest and activism that once shook national policy and changed our nation forever. CSNY Déjà Vu is a documentary based on this tour.
Being a rock star must be the ideal profession because you get all the girls when you’re young and somehow you’re never too old. David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash and Neil Young were an average of 62 years of age on the tour, but still audiences gave them license to “get down” on the stage, and generally applauded wildly with love and admiration. But don’t expect the typical fawning fans of a concert movie. This is all about the tour, about why they hit the road, what they believe, and how fans, concertgoers and the American public reacted.
Writer and ringleader Neil Young deserves tremendous credit for being candid and revealing. He quotes the glowing press reports of course, but also the negative ones and even the stinging mockery. He also shows both sides of the audience reaction, with the most antagonistic occurring in the southern (red) states, where many fans walked out of the concerts in disgust, coming for the music without realizing they were in for incessant politicizing, including a song entitled “Let’s Impeach the President.” And he even shows Stephen Stills falling off the stage, looking every bit like the fat old man that he has become. (Only Graham Nash really looks good. David Crosby looks like your uncle. And Neil Young just looks a little craggy, until he takes his hat off. Then he looks like his age as well.) It is fun and nostalgic to see the old footage interspersed, and to follow the band as they meet people, and introduce those that affected or were affected by the experience. CSNY Deja Vu is not a great movie by any means. There’s not enough music to make it a concert film, and not enough action to pick up the slack. But there is nevertheless something admirable, even touching, about their breed of 60′s style activism, their belief that people are dying needlessly, and their genuine heartfelt desire to make a difference. As they repeatedly demonstrated, they have profound respect for the servicemen overseas, but don’t see continuing the war as the best answer. Agree or not, it strikes me as the sincerest form of patriotism.
Sundance Moment Someone in the Q&A said that he had lost a brother in Iraq, and told Neil Young that “you have no idea what you’re talking about.” It was a tense moment in the very liberal Sundance crowd. I’m guessing that Young has dealt with this kind of thing dozens of times on the tour, and he chose to handle it by, essentially, backing down. “I think you’re right,” he said. “We’re just trying to get people to talk about it.” Well, that might be an easy answer, but I’m not sure it’s honest. A song like “Let’s Impeach the President” is something more than an invitation for dialogue, it’s a political statement of the strongest kind. I respect the band’s sincerity, but was disappointed they were something less than forthright when challenged.
I am so, so excited. I’m a fan of Johnny Cash’s American Recordings, which Rick produced (and yes, I’m on a first-name basis with good ole’ Rick), so I expect great things!
Graham Nash said, “Rick Rubin’s a brilliant man, and what he wants is an album with no CSN songs. He wants to do an album of all the songs we love, all the songs we wish we’ve written.”