Woodstock 40: “we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden”

by on August 22, 2009 · 12 comments

in History

Originally posted August 15, 2009.

Huh? I couldn’t decipher what Joni Mitchell had written because I couldn’t understand the lyrics that CSN&Y were singing, at least when I first heard the song Woodstock, but the music sure resounded in and through my heart, soul & being.
Sorry, but for this piece I’m going to need a lot of visual aides so please bare with me. OK, Here’s how it all started dude thinking (I hope the AV department doesn’t screw me on this)

Hopefully we can all agree that everybody wants to find their niche’ in life, to know where they fit in on this big blue marble, and hopefully leave at least a beautiful memory or 3 to those who both loved you and you loved in return The other day I realized that my generation however, didn’t have a national title, I was too young to be a “Baby Boomer’ and just a bit too old to be a Gen-Xer. But as the 40th anniversary of the Woodstock Music & Art Fair approached I realized exactly what I was, I was a member of the Woodstock Generation. Sure it was mostly Baby Boomers that attended but as a 10 year old kid that was completely won over by the power of love through music, I was there too. Not physically but spiritually

I’m pretty sure that everybody has at least one big event that changed their life forever. With me it was at the Loma theatre in late March of 1970 when I saw the movie Woodstock. The concert itself was in the Summer of ’69. Not the Summer of Love but rather the Summer of awakening in an age of Aquarius.

So many things were important to us back then (and from then). Peace instead of the war in Viet Nam which included the draft…a.k.a. “war machine”, so a lot of who I am today is because of that fateful day at The Loma, and the amazing triple album that I received on the Christmas that followed. What spoke to me then is what speaks to me now and that is music from the heart.

From the beginning of the Movie I was enthralled, and hearing Canned Heat http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYKY2lpxMg8 brought me  to the front of the stage (so to speak) to see non other than Ritchie Havens. The dude’s thumb covered the entire 6 strings on the fret!!! I don’t even want to go back and figure out his tuning because I don’t `want 2 spoil the moment. I heard that the traffic was so packed that the 2nd act, Joan Baez, couldn’t get in so Mr. Havens did 4 encores…and you know? I’d love to hear them all too!!!

As often is he case, he running order of the show doesn’t coincide with the running order of the movie and I’m doing this strictly by memory so what stood out to me was some of, but not even close to ALL of  the following….

When Joan Baez sang about Joe Hill it still awakened the plight & spirit of working folks everywhere.

At one point Woody Guthrie’s son, Arlo sang about trying to bring pot through customs, I’ll bet Woody actually dug that too!

The stage announcements were everything from poignant to hilarious, pearls of wisdom like “there’s always a little bit of Heaven in a disaster area” to “the brown acid isn’t poison, it was just manufactured poorly”

Other musical highlights include

Crosby, Stills and Nash Suite: Judy Blue Eyes

Country Joe McDonald – “Feel Like I’m Fixing To Die Rag”

Santana – Soul Sacrifice

Joe Cocker – A Little Help From My Friends

The Who See Me Feel Me

Creedence Clearwater RevivalBorn on the Bayou

Sly & the Family Stone ~ Take You Higher

Max Yasgur http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Max_Yasgur & Jimi Hendrix Voodoo Chile (slight return)

Which must be followed in time with;

And then with a cool chunk missing

I recommend getting any and all DVDs to feel the full effect of the concert and of course getting the complete Jimi Hendrix set, minus the 2 songs that Larry Lee sang lead on. It was an awesome set by the final act, the Jimi Hendrix Experience *

Even though it was album was recorded by Eddie Kramer on a mobile 8 track console it sounded huge…maybe it was the half million people that were there, but it was bigger than life!  If you saw the movie or bought any of the albums you remember scenes and tunes from some of these bands, but here is the complete running order and all of the songs that were played along with a list of bands that either declined or canceled.

The rain that the “No Rain No Rain No Rain No Rain” chant was born from was the result of  category 5 Hurricane, “Camille” that came from the Gulf Coast up and through New York state. I love how the rain brought everyone together too

When I finally saw Jimi Hendrix at the end of the movie my life changed forever. Watching him play the Star Spangled Banner, Purple Haze and Villanova Junction still to this day gives me goose bumps and all of the inspiration one person can handle.

Jimi died a year and a month later, Janis passed soon after that and with their passing so to passed an age that we will never see the likes of again.

Finally, if you were there then I’d love to hear from you, especially if you took the brown acid, lol! Happy Birthday Woodstock, you don’t look a day past 27 ;)

To read more about Woodstock ’69 please check:

For albums by the some of the acts that played at Woodstock in 1969: http://phrockblog.blogspot.com/2009/07/jefferson-airplane-woodstock-experience.html

Peace ~

* though billed as “the Jimi Hendrix Experience”, this was not the usual power trio of Jimi, Mitch & Noel but rather a 6 piece band called the Gypsy, Sons and Rainbows. It included ex-Army buddy Billy Cox on bass for their “first little gig”. Jimi and Billy would end up playing together from here on out, and Jimi until he died. It was only one of 2 shows that Gypsy, Sons and Rainbows played.

Update August 2011: Sorry to say that most of the wonderful YouTube links in this article are now dead. RIP.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

doug porter August 15, 2009 at 8:21 pm

true story: i was picked up hitchhiking about two weeks before woodstock & offered a ride & tickets. i turned it down to go to a demonstration in berkeley.


Pat August 16, 2009 at 9:09 am


Great article.
I was twelve in 69 and also was influenced by that era, especially since I had four older brothers, two of which where in the navy during the vietnam war. After his stint in the navy my brother Rich went to Shasta College on the GI bill and became an ardent supporter of the anti war movement.
This didn’t always sit well my father who is a retired Master Chief, and was a Corpman and Pharmisist Mate during WWII and the Korean War.
He witnessed directly the horrors of war. He has a tatoo on his leg of all the campaigns he was involved with in the South Pacific.
On a few occasions political discussions turned into backyard brawls, (usually during the holidays when alcohol was involved. Merry Christmas !) But love triumphed over disagreements and points of view,and we remained a close knit family who loved and respected each other.
A little off subject of Woodstock, but just pointing out it was a very tumultuous time and influenced the way I feel about War and Peace.
On the subject of Woodstock, a friend of mine who was there finally found himself in a picture in a anniversary edition book on the event.
I’ll see if I can get him to share his experience (and picture) on The Rag Blog.


annagrace August 16, 2009 at 10:14 am

Dave- great article! I was a late bloomer Boomer and while friends talked about going to Woodstock, I didn’t give it much thought. Such is life…


doug porter August 16, 2009 at 11:49 am

the daily fishwrap let us know today (Sun) with an op-ed “debate” about Woodstock. arguing “against” was Chris “America’s Finest Blog” Reed, a right winger who’s still fighting commies and unions under every bush. (pun intended).
that’s like having an op-ed about Christmas and inviting ebineezer scrooge (pre-ghosts) to opine. Or having the CEO of Smithfield write about holiday kosher hams….


Dave Gilbert August 16, 2009 at 4:18 pm

Thanks Pat, Anna and Doug, I love hearing the old stories.

Doug, I think that as long as there are people that are willing to buy into the negative and fear based propaganda, there will be pundits there to force feed those same fears and negative attitudes. It’s your basic vicious circle.


gus hollenbeck August 16, 2009 at 7:20 pm

Great job Dave. Keep up the good work.


la jolla kid August 16, 2009 at 8:31 pm

Big Dave, I’ve always been a fan of what REALLY happened up there and that list was a real eye opener since I’ve had one for years that was close but no cigar! Oh, at 13 and in Columbus AFB, Mississippi, I suffered through Camille that brought down a huge willow tree onto our house. Didn’t know the Rain Chant was as a result, also good to know, take care, bro!!!!


lane tobias August 16, 2009 at 10:46 pm

really cool dave. i was thinking the other day how woodstock represented everything i wish for for my own generation, but how the series of events over the last 40 years has morphed that spirit into something new that we are still trying to put our finger on.

you can still see that everyday, but we are working against a much different system – and a much different music scene. that is why real music fans and musicians are getting more and more deeply involved in local scenes..maybe because in this day and age localizing your lifestyle has eased the pain of the recession.
really great stuff.


Frank Gormlie August 19, 2009 at 9:53 pm

Thanks for doing this Dave, I finally got through some of the links – twas great!


Dave Gilbert August 20, 2009 at 9:42 am

Thanks Gus, LJK, Lane & Frank,

It was a labor of love.

I actually thought this was going to be easy to write but in the end it was toughest one yet. There’s so much info out there on Woodstock that it became hard figuring out just what to include and what to leave out.

One part that I left out was, that because of all of the delays, the concert ended after Jimi Hendrix’ set on Monday morning August 18th making it a 4 day event. After the concert was over it took a week to clean up at a cost of $100,000.00


Gretchen Gilbert August 27, 2009 at 1:06 am

Hi, Dave!

I enjoyed your article very much. I’m pretty sure you are a baby boomer. It was like Grand Central at Sharp Memorial the day you were born. That sounds like a boom to me! It was loud in there. I could even hear your rock and roll cry all the way from the nursery. (I swear I could!)

I had forgotten that Woodstock was at the Loma Theater. Thinking that I might not like the movie, you told me that The Sha Na Na and Joan Baez would be in it. Little did you or I know that I would like most of the rest of the musicians, too. Thanks for the links to the You Tube videos. I like that they are all in one place. I have been enjoying them!

~from Mom, fellow Woodstock junkie~


Dave Gilbert August 27, 2009 at 8:10 am

Thanks for being such a cool & hip Mom!!!



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