A few days ago I read an article "Woodstock: A generation lost in space ", in the Times of India by Paranjoy Guha Thakurta . It took me spinning back to the early sixties . I remember Woodstock from the bits and pieces I read about it in those days … the rain , the slush, drugs ,the gay abandon and yes the inspiring and fabulous music . TV coverage in those days was almost non existant so we didnt get to live the experience as we would have in todays age of instant communication and dramatic visuals.
I always thought about Woodstock with a certain wistfulness , some thing I knew had been a great event and something I had no opportunity to participate in ,even if it was to be remotely. I always harboured an association of magic and abundant freedom of the spirit with the event . It was a thing of the past I connected to, in some strange way ,though nothing of Woodstock represented me or my life style. Perhaps I had yearned for the freedom of expression and a breaking away from the shackles of tradition and every thing I thought was not good with the world order, in those by gone days.I was just 20 years old then .
The article in the Times filled me in with facts I had only a hazy recollection off or didnt know at all .Woodstock was one of the most ,if not the most important festivals that successfully linked music and politics ." It was an event 40 years ago that was sought to be replicated many times over but could never be.The reason : the music and the moment did not ever meet this way .it was a spontaneous gathering of close to half a million people ( the organisers had prepared tickets for 200,000 ) on a 2.4 sq km farm ."The festival had some of the all time greats ( the planets most influential and popular musicians ) ,Joan Baez,Janis Joplan , Jimi Hendrix, Carlos Santana , Crosby,Stills,Nash &Young to name a few .The Indian contribution included the openning speach by Swami Satchidananda , and a speech Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and performances by Ravi Shankar and Ustad Allah Rakha .This seems to have triggered off a wave of popularity for Indian Classical Music in the West .
Many described Woodstock as a mud splattered orgy of sex and drugs and every thing that symbolized the excesses and promiscuity of the ’60s generation .Woodstock was much more than all of that .It was about love and peace ; about protest, in particular against America’s war in Vietnam and extolling the virtues of idealism and cooperation as the article so nicely put it . It’s a pity I only carried a vague romantic image of this great event .I hope I can get to see the documentary that ahd been made of this one and only musical event.