I won’t kid myself, I couldn’t have hacked* Woodstock. I am referring to the one and only original “3 days of peace & music,” August of 1969. I don’t like being outside my own little universe when it’s warm, muggy, muddy, and rainy. What would I have done in a crowd of half-a-million? I’d be in the freak-out tent without even doing any drugs.
My counterculture activities consisted of hanging an Easy Rider poster on the wall of my pink bedroom and protesting in favor of long hair on our boys at Cedar Cliff High School. Of course, I was horrified by the war in Vietnam, and I cried myself to sleep after Bobby Kennedy was shot. Martin Luther King’s assassination, race riots, man on the moon, the Manson murders, hippies, Yippies, Life and Time magazine coverage of LSD—all were wallpapering my suburban life. But I wasn’t really fully engaged. I missed something important, I know.
This summer has been warm, muggy, muddy, and rainy. I am in my own little universe, revisiting Woodstock as an anthropologist of my teenage self, an archivist of the era that I lived through but did not fully absorb.
Now I race the clock to complete an illustrated memoir—By The Time I Got To Woodstock—by next year’s 50th anniversary.
Bert Sommer played Woodstock as his very first gig, and got the first standing ovation of the concert. What followed is a story unto itself, and I bet you never heard of him. Neither did I, and I want to change that. I wrote an original essay about him that got picked up by Boom Underground, and I am hoping to flesh it out into a larger article by next year. Hello, New Yorker? Rolling Stone? New York Times? (High Times?)
Meanwhile, today is the 49th anniversary of Day 2, Bert has already played his 10-song set, and he is golden. Until he fell thorough the cracks.
* 1969 slang for “handled,” “endured.”
copyright sharon watts
video courtesy youtube