Jimi Hendrix had barely finished playing "The Star Spangled Banner" when the myth began that Woodstock was the climax of the 1960s. It was not. The moon landing was the climax of the Sixties.
Woodstock kicked off the Seventies.
Woodstock did not fully enter the popular consciousness until the spring of 1970. That's when the "Woodstock" movie came out, the Woodstock triple-album came out, and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young had a hit with their version of Joni Mitchell's "Woodstock."
For the next ten years, a generation sat in fields listening to rock bands.
Woodstock was all about hippies going up the country, getting back to the garden, leaving the dirty cities behind to commune with nature. That is an entirely Seventies concept.
Excerpt: Canned Heat performs "Going Up The Country" at Woodstock
In the Sixties, hippies were an urban phenomenon. Hippies were in San Francisco, Greenwich Village, London, Paris and Prague. Hippies who ventured out to the country in the Sixties worried about ending up like the two bikers in "Easy Rider."
As a teenager, I was amazed that the adult world, the media world, the straight world embraced Woodstock so completely. Up until then, hippies and acid rock bands were portrayed in mainstream newspapers and magazines and TV programs as dangerous drug users out to corrupt the kids.
I remember being astonished to see a Life Magazine Woodstock commemorative edition. It was the first time I had seen the counterculture targeted as consumers.
Woodstock marked the moment when Madison Avenue recognized hippie culture as a marketing platform. If there were millions of kids with money to spend on concert tickets and records, surely you could also sell them sugary wine and bell-bottoms, hair dryers, Volkswagens and little cigars.
We came for the bands … we left with the brands.
For more info:
- National Register of Historic Places: Woodstock Music Festival Site (National Park Service)
- Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, Bethel, N.Y.
- "Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace and Music" (1970), directed by Michael Wadleigh, released by Warner Brothers, available on Blu-ray/DVD (Amazon) and via Streaming (Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu and YouTube)
- "Woodstock 50: Back to the Garden – The Definitive 50th Anniversary Archive" (Rhino Records), published as a 38-disc set (which include a Blu-ray of the film "Woodstock"), as well as a 10-CD or 3-CD set, and a 5-LP vinyl collection; Available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble
Story produced by Sara Kugel.
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