Monday, June 29, 2009

Woodstock Anniversary

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Woodstock, that messy, joyful and iconic bit of hedonism. I wasn't there. I was too young. But I remember the sensation of it happening, the chatter among family members, the news reports. I have siblings and cousins who wanted to attend and couldn't for one reason or another.

Naturally, this year also marks the 40th anniversary of Jimi Hendrix's performance of the National Anthem at Woodstock, one of my favorite moments in rock history. Over the next couple posts, I'll talk about some of these things by turns--Woodstock, the scandalous uses of the National Anthem and the Hendrix performance.

But right now, I just want to tell a brief story or two, stemming from the Rock 'n' Roll class I taught for a few years at Middlesex County Arts High. First, the director of school walked into my class to observe and found me skimming through the Woodstock film on my computer to show my students some of the highlight moments--Richie Havens, The Who, Sly and the Family Stone, Jimi Hendrix. The discussion was rock history. After class, the director said to me, "This can't be 'history'! I was there!"

In a different class, I mentioned that we would watch the film of the Woodstock festival and one of my students said, "Which one?" The other students, trying to impress me with how much they knew, all nodded, "Yeh, weren't there, like, five Woodstock festivals?"

Deep breath.

No, I said, trying to be patient. There was one. And there will never be another.


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