A friend asked if I could travel in Dr Who’s Tardis where I would like to go and what year, but initially I was stumped. I thought about the times in history that I knew a little about and had to dismiss them.
· The Roman invasion of Britain – yours truly wearing a toga and surrounded by lusty Italians – censored.
· The Battle of Hastings – I would probably get sore fingers if I had to sew the tapestry.
· The Boston Tea Party – having a nice cuppa before the Americans threw the tea in the sea
· Crystal Palace’s grand opening – the Tardis crashing through the glass roof – Queen Vicky not very amused.
· Joining the French Resistance during World War II – my Yorkshire accent would betray me at the first allo allo.
Not one of those ideas were very tempting. What put me off most about going too far back in time was that in many places women were mainly treated as second-class citizens until recent years and I naturally wouldn’t want to visit those times. Plus people didn’t wash often and I can’t stand the stink of BO on others or myself. I would absolutely stand out from the crowd if I took my toiletries and might even be burned at the stake as a witch. I wonder if Doctor Who would rescue me.
After a great deal of thought I chose the weekend following August 15th 1969 and the Woodstock festival. Frivolous maybe, but Woodstock and the Band Aid concert in 1984 both left a massive impression on me. I’ve still got the Band Aid concert on video somewhere but can’t watch that again and go there in kind because it’s on a Betamax tape – remember them?
I was only a young in in my early teens when Woodstock happened. I owned a small transistor radio and listened to the pirate stations when I was curled up in bed at night. Hippies had arrived on the scene a few years earlier and I can remember laughing at my older brother when he bought and wore a flowered tie, but I was wearing beads and bells soon after Woodstock.
I recall watching the television news that weekend. Seeing 400,000 dirty, longhaired, dishevelled, drugged up hippies dancing to the music or sitting spaced out in the mud.
The papers were full of pictures and articles about this crazy event that gave a sense of astonishment to millions of people all over the world. The festival was about love and peace and I can distinctly recall Woodstock showing me a sense of freedom that I didn’t know existed.
I can’t totally say why that few days in history impressed me as much as they did. I’ve never been interested in being spaced out, but I would dearly love to go back in time and watch some of the 31 bands performing.
Day one started with a Richie Havens set which included the Beatles classics Hey Jude and Strawberry Fields. The first day closed with Joan Baez singing We Shall Overcome, the freedom anthem. Since then the song must have been sung countless times in protest.
Joan Baez and Bob Dylan
Day two included sets from legendary British band The Who, Janis Joplin, Santana, Canned Heat, Grateful Dead, Sly And The Family Stone, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Jefferson Aeroplane. Just imagine seeing and hearing all of those great acts in one day – amazing?
Though Jefferson Aeroplane closed the day, second to last the Who performed a massive 24 songs. More by far than any other act at this mad extravaganza. Some of the songs were my all time favourite Pinball Wizard, I Can’t Explain, Tommy Can You Hear me, I’m Free, See Me Feel Me, Summertime Blues, Shaking All Over, and of course My Generation.
Now that was my generation; I can feel it now when I hear the music of my youth. I remember racking up very high pinball machine scores with Pinball Wizard playing in the background down stairs in the dingy Allessio café where the young ones hung out.
Day three began with Joe Cocker singing Delta Lady, I can just hear his gravely voice in my head. 4th up was Ten Years After, and following them The Band. Later on Blood Sweat and Tears and then last but not least Crosby Stills, Nash and Young, must have been before Graham Young left the band.
Day Four started with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band singing Everything’s Gonna Be Alright. Next was Sha Na Na whose numbers included Who Wrote The Book Of Love, Jailhouse Rock, Duke Of Earl, At The Hop and one of my favourites Wipe Out. Just imagine after three days of sex, drugs and roughing it being roused by good old rock and roll.
Finally, because he always refused to precede anybody else was the great Jimi Hendrix. I’m not into analysing music or tracks but I know what I like and that man was one hell of a guitar player. He ended the crazy party with his 16th number of the day Hey Joe.
Jimi Hendrix, Woodstock
Vinyl and Hippy Parties
Classic Vinyl Record Player
What I’m wondering now is why I’ve got so many of the wonderful tracks played at Woodstock on Vinyl and absolutely nothing to play them on and be able to take nostalgic trips back in time when I want. I’m promising myself a record player so that I can listen to my vinyl collection now.
As I was good and didn’t shock Doctor Who by dancing naked in the corn I would ask him to take me back to the present day to see what happened to some of those who were at Woodstock.
That would be interesting. Just last week I saw a man who attended the same hippy parties that I did back in the day. He was really into anything that could ‘blow his mind’ and by the time Graham was 20 he was a wreck. Now his hair is 12 inches shorter and he was wearing a really smart and conservative business suit. What a difference 40 odd years makes!
To end my ‘far out’ trip I’ll list some facts that I learned on the Internet about the Woodstock festival.
Festival goers were charged $6.50 for an advance ticket for one day. In 1989 one of those tickets was sold for a massive $8,000
500,000 Hamburgers and Frankfurters were eaten on day one.
Santana were paid $1,500, the Grateful Dead earned $7,500 and The Who got $11,200.
You would be charged $1 for a Hot Dog and $1 for a loaf of bread and a quart of milk.
Three tracheotomies were performed.
A hit of Acid or Mescaline cost $4 and an ounce of Marijuana cost $15.
Just 33 people were arrested on drugs charges though 500 freaked out on bad LSD trips.
450 cows mixed freely with the campers for 3 days.
Only 600 Portaloos were available.
Back in my time I remember seeing the Woodstock movie that was released in 1979, maybe it would be a good idea to see if I can get hold of a copy and see if my trip still looks far out man. In the meantime I’m enjoying watching and listening to the following Woodstock videos.