Sunday, August 16, 2009

PT Barnum Was Right

Organizers held a fortieth anniversary concert of the original Woodstock concert this weekend. It was a chance for aging boomers to dress like hippies, wear peace symbols and love beads, and take part in something they totally missed out on the first time around. And thereby, missing the whole point of what made the original experience so iconic.
It was anarchy.
It was mud, brown acid, and skinny dipping. It was the explosion of a youth culture facing being shipped to an early death fighting an unwinnable war in southeast Asia for reasons never fully understood.
Now it's all about reliving memories of something they never took part in, flashing the peace sign, and tailgating in the parking lot, with, I'm sure, lots of bottles of chardonnay passed around the parking lot. That's right, it was like a fucking sporting event. Organized, and calm, it belies and betrays the spirit of the original.
A lot of the original acts that played at the original returned to play this one. Big Brother and the Holding Company returned, for instance, missing, of course, the iconic lead singer that made them a festival attraction in the first place. Canned Heat played as well, sans founding members Bob "the Bear" Hite and Alan Wilson, both of whom are now dead.
The whole purpose of the concert seems to have been promoters and musicians loosely tied to the original stars exploiting hippie poseurs looking to have a memory of something they wished they could have been at and now are desperately seeking ways to connect to so they can say, I wasn't at the original , but I was at the fortieth anniversary.
So they didn't get to see the Who, or Jimi Hendrix, Neil Young, Crosby Stills and Nash, or Creedence Clearwater Revival, but they did get to sit in lawn chairs and cheer along with Country Joe McDonald. They still think that by voting for Obama, they are "hip" and "with-it", even though Obama has shown his reluctance for the "peace" the original concert was set up to exploit and promote. And such is the definition of pathetic.


Tom Harper said...

In 1994 there was a 25th anniversary Woodstock celebration. But they seemed to get the spirit of the thing, not just nostalgia (I wasn't there). They had current groups (Nine Inch Nails is all I can think of off hand) and it seemed to be mostly younger people.

Lew Scannon said...

Funny you should mention Woodstock '94-I just bought my son a copy of the CD last week at a garage sale, mainly because it had Green day on it (his favorite band). Not a lot of hippies there.