Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Remembering Woodstock

with 4 comments

Ten years ago, on the 40th anniversary of Woodstock, I wrote a blog post musing about how that event influenced my taste in music. In honor of reaching the milestone of 50 years hence, I’m going to re-post those thoughts once again…

Have I mused on music already here? I don’t remember.

It was 40 years ago now that the Woodstock Music and Art Fair was held. Three days of peace and music. I was 10 years old. I don’t have any recollection that I had any clue it was occurring.

I’m not clear about what point in my life it was that I got hooked by the music being made by artists like the ones that were so well represented at the Woodstock concert. The first album that belonged to me was a gift from a sibling or siblings (anyone remember?). It was the Monkees, “Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones, Ltd. That album was released in November of 1967, so maybe I got it Christmas of that year. I remember they pranked me with the trick where they taped the album to the cover of the box the present was wrapped in so when I lifted it and looked in the box, there was nothing there.

The next record I recall getting was one that my sister, Linda, allowed me to select for myself, as a gift from her. I didn’t have a clue what to pick and went with what I saw before me when walking the aisle of the local record store. Black Sabbath’s “Ironman” was something that I recognized as having heard on the radio and it was in the front of a stack down at my eye level. I picked it and remember her trying hard to make sure that was what I wanted. I’m pretty sure she could sense it was not a well thought out selection. But I held firm, trying to portray that I was making an informed decision. I wasn’t.

Eventually, I came to revere the music of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. The first concert I ever saw in person was The Allman Brothers Band. I was a fan of The Beatles, Derek & the Dominos, America, Loggins & Messina and a wide range of related groups. I have always liked live recordings and I think my favorite albums from all the above artists or groups are their live concert recordings.

     Impressionable years

Somewhere in my very impressionable music years, I heard the live recordings of Santana, The Who, Richie Havens, Country Joe & the Fish, Canned Heat, Ten Years After, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Joe Cocker, John Sebastion, and I’m sure others who performed at Woodstock, and those songs all locked in my consciousness as foundation blocks.

I probably heard them on the soundtrack of the documentary film released after the concert. From those songs, I built a fascination for Leon Russell and records like Mad Dogs & Englishmen, The Band, “Rock of Ages” and “The Last Waltz”, Little Feat, “Waiting for Columbus”, George Harrison and the musicians he recruited for “Concert for Bangladesh”.

This wasn’t music that was played on popular radio (remember the AM band?). This is what record albums and FM radio were all about. Eventually, I got a job at a retail record store for about a year and became immersed in more albums than I could comprehend.

I wasn’t old enough to be aware that the Woodstock Music and Art Fair was happening at the time, but later, it became a very significant part of my music world because of the recordings made there. And the music that was made there came from the spirit of that moment. Woodstock was a very important event for me, after the fact.

Increasingly more so, in the accumulating years following that August weekend back in 1969.



Written by johnwhays

August 20, 2019 at 6:00 am

4 Responses

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  1. I was 19 and didn’t know it was happening until well after it was over. I’m not even sure I knew it happened until the move came out.

    Jim Parker (@drjparker)

    August 20, 2019 at 7:04 pm

    • Interesting. It fascinates me that so many people DID know enough about it to plan to be there in a field for three days, especially with the logistics of even getting there being so difficult due to the overwhelming numbers. I’m not sure I would have bothered braving the hassles.


      August 20, 2019 at 7:47 pm

  2. So, did you catch that PBS doc on this topic the other day? We were watching it via Netflix streaming (and I was thinking, oh I’ll have to get this over to mom & dad…), then I flipped on the TV, probably in anticipation of the football game, and there was the very same Woodstock program airing live on PBS.


    August 20, 2019 at 1:32 pm

    • Yes! Came upon it after it was already well underway, then left it while there was the big pledge pitch, finally bouncing back and forth with the football game until the PBS show was done.


      August 20, 2019 at 1:59 pm

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