Forty Years Later, Born for Woodstock

I’ve been very behind – two months behind, in fact, but I’m finally getting back in the habit with my columns:

It was a weekend full of comparisons – none of them quite hitting the mark.

Born a full decade later, I can’t compare Saturday’s version of Woodstock to the original.

But it’s as much where I was a born as when that means I wouldn’t try.

Because growing up a stone’s throw from the site offers a look at history that is both exciting and undeniably understated.

It was there . . . there where I can drive past it and look anytime I want. But then again, it was there . . . on land like most in Sullivan County – green in the summer, muddy when it rains.

Until Bethel Woods.

Because for everything that came before it, including my very first “real” rock concert on the field in 1998, it was always touch and go, always a field that could very well remain just a field with memories as wispy as the pot smoke that fueled them.

Woodstock itself was special for half a million people then, yes, but not for those of us born decades too late. For us it offered as much excitement as the Washington Mall late at night, emptied not only of protestors making their presence known to the world but of the people who would listen to them crow.

And when I moved back to Sullivan County, took a job at the Democrat, there was no story I wanted to hear about so much as that of the Woodstock festival plans.

I’d missed much of the hot and heavy debate, but I was home just in time for the planning and building, for the anticipatory years when there was real promise for something permanently great to rise out of one-time magnificence.

I am grateful to Woodstock.

To the half a million hippies who proved the motto “give peace a chance.” They might well have changed the world – a pay-it-forward movement that staved off what could have been.

But I’m grateful too for making people look at the green fields that I love as something more than grass.

After the words “When I was here in ’69. . .” from the dozens of folks I chatted up, the words I heard on Saturday night were, “this is a beautiful place.”

They found beauty in spirit in ’69.

In ’09, they found the beauty of my home, and I can’t compare the two.

Get a glimpse of the show starter – a 15-year-old BLIND Hendrix who kicked it all off. (pictured above)

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