Monday, August 15, 2016

In 1969 The Age Of Aquarius Blossomed On Max Yasgur's Farm


Yesterday, David Crosby, the American singer, songwriter and musician turned 75 years old. He may be a social and political bad boy in the eyes of many, but he remains an iconic figure in the performance and evolution of popular music beginning in the 1960s. His talents, notably his beautiful high harmony, helped propel The Byrds, and Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young to the top of the charts. Crosby is still on the circuit adding his signature sound --and rather strong it remains--after all these years. Considering the toll from years of unhealthy life choices both emotional and physical, we're fortunate to have him around for another generation of admirers. For me, Crosby ranks among the best of the singer songwriters. 


Crosby's birthday just happens to be on the cusp of one of the most astounding musical events ever. With his band mates, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, and Neil Young, Crosby performed at that event, a musical landmark we have come to know as Woodstock.



No, I wasn't there but the music of a generation and more was and in many cases is still with us. So who graced the main stage at the  Woodstock festival? Here is the list according to the Woodstock wikipedia page:








The three-day festival opened on August 15 and attracted an audience estimated at 400,000 or twice what the promoters expected. In 1969, the rock critic Ellen Sander said this about the festival's significance:

No longer can the magical multicolored phenomenon of pop culture be overlooked or underrated. It’s happening everywhere, but now it has happened in one place at one time so hugely that it was indeed historic .... The audience was a much bigger story than the groups. It was major entertainment news that the line-up of talent was of such magnificence and magnitude (thirty-one acts, nineteen of which were colossal) .... These were, however, the least significant events of what happened over the Woodstock weekend. What happened was that the largest number of people ever assembled for any event other than a war lived together, intimately and meaningfully and with such natural good cheer that they turned on not only everyone surrounding them but the mass media, and, by extension, millions of others, young and old, particularly many elements hostile to the manifestations and ignorant of the substance of pop culture.

The Woodstock Preservation Alliance has this to say about the event's long-term significance to the American experience:

Woodstock was the culmination of a transformation in American popular music that had begun with [the] Monterey [Pop Festival]....Woodstock introduced the same wide diversity of talent, albeit on an expanded scale, to a truly mass audience....A subsequent documentary film...and several sound recordings helped establish what only two years before had been underground or avant-garde musical styles and ushered them into the mainstream.
Participating musicians, industry insiders, and rock critics and historians concur that Woodstock changed the way that popular music was programmed and marketed. Festival promoters noted the large numbers of fans who were willing to put up with often inadequate facilities....Promoters saw opportunities to improve their profit margin by more efficiently organizing festivals....They also understood that increased ticket prices would need to be offset...by moving the festivals from pastoral settings into sports arenas and convention centers and limiting the shows to a single-day or evening.... [Such changes] altered the festival-going experience... and thereby diminished the sense of community that many commentators considered the sine qua non of the Woodstock experience.
The development of "arena rock" marked the end of the rock "vaudeville circuit," and led to the demise of the smaller concert hall venues....The arenas also gave the upper hand to the style of music called heavy metal, represented by loudly amplified guitar based and blues-inflected bands composed almost entirely of white male musicians, whose aggressive style of playing was ideally suited for filling the audible space in arena settings.
After Woodstock, musicians apprehended the seemingly insatiable demand for their music and began commanding higher fees. It thus soon proved to be no longer economically feasible to book several major bands on the same bill....This in turn led to the segmentation of the fan base....In the years fol1owing Woodstock, however, fans were channeled into attending concerts that featured fewer acts, typically representing one or two musical styles.
Part of the Woodstock Festival's enduring legacy is the continuing efforts to counteract this trend by replicating the multi-performer/genre concert experience. Over the past three decades various parties have staged or attempted to stage successors to Woodstock, either by that name at different sites or else on or near the original site under a different name. [These efforts have had mixed success over the decades.]

Some impact I'd say.

Joni Mitchell didn't appear as scheduled but she penned a perfect description of the event, one that Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young would bring alive as a #1 hit that stills captures an audience.


Well I came upon a child of God, he was walking along the road
And I asked him tell where are you going, this he told me:
Said, I'm going down to Yasgur's farm, going to join in a rock and roll band.
Got to get back to the land, set my soul free.
We are stardust, we are golden, we are billion year old carbon,
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden.

Well, then can I walk beside you? I have come to lose the smog.
And I feel like I'm a cog in something turning.
And maybe it's the time of year, yes, and maybe it's the time of man.
And I don't know who I am but life is for learning.
We are stardust, we are golden, we are billion year old carbon,
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden.

By the time we got to Woodstock, we were half a million strong,
And everywhere was song and a celebration.
And I dreamed I saw the bombers jet planes riding shotgun in the sky,
Turning into butterflies above our nation.

We are stardust, we are golden, we are caught in the devil's bargain,
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden.




Sources

Photo:
wikipedia.com

Text:
All quotations:
woodstockpreservation.org/SignificanceStatement.htm
azlyrics.com


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