Going down to Yasgur's Farm? Not me, baby.
Well, this weekend marks the 40th anniversary of Woodstock.
Although I am the bull's-eye demographic, and although Worcester Massachusetts was not all that far from Yasgur's farm, where "it" was held, I did not attend.
It's not that I didn't like the performers. I found the list here, and I've got to say that I was, at the time, at least a quasi-fan of most of them. Hell, I still like Joan Baez and Richie Havens. I still occasionally sing The Band's "Cripple Creek" in the shower. And, as ridiculous and absurdly sexist as some of the lyrics to as "If I Were a Carpenter" by the late Tim Hardin are, I am still rather fond of this number. ("If a tinker were my trade, would you still find me, carrying the pots I made, following behind me.")
Okay, there are other Woodstock performers that I still kind of like. I'll admit I don't switch stations when Joe Cocker comes on. Or Jefferson Airplane. Or Creedence Clearwater.* (Happy now?)
(By the way, the site with the performer list also has the full play list, and reading through was a nice little stroll through the wayback machine.)
Jimi Hendrix I could always live without. Ditto The Dead. And Canned Heat? Oy - just seeing that band's name in print, and I've got "Going Up Country" piercing my brain like an ice-pick through the eye. I didn't mind The Who, but I don't think I could have sat through 24 songs full of them, at 4 a.m., in the rain and the mud. I was never much of a Blood, Sweat, and Tears fan, although a couple of summers later I waited on them a Durgin-Park and they gave me a couple of passes to their show at Paul's Mall. I can't remember if they also left a tip.
I saw Sha-Na-Na's name on the Woodstock roster. They were an oldies band, so I guess that as early as 1969, the first wave Boomers were already nostalgic for the Top 40 songs of their childhood. They played "Teen Angel," "Duke of Earl," and "Book of Love." (And just who did write the book of love?)
A couple of the performers, in fact, I'd never even heard of. Quill? Certainly, I may be having a senior mo here, but - nah - Quill I am not familiar with. And this YouTube of one Bert Sommer, another Woodstockian non-entity as far as I'm concerned, reminds me of why I would have loathed and despised pretty much every nano-second spent there. (Confession: I never did like long hair on men.)
(Apologies if this doesn't work. If this peek doesn't quite do it for you, just google "bert sommers woodstock" and go for the long form. It should come up first. Oh, wow.)
Instead of going, I worked a "lucrative" weekend shift at Ted's Big Boy. (Nothing was very lucrative at Big Boy's, as they didn't serve alcohol and the most expensive entree couldn't have been more than $5. It was a decent enough summer job for the two summers I worked there.)
I was a working girl, so no Woodstock for me. While half a million strong of my age peers were running around stoned, half-naked, and soaking wet, I was serving tuna-wheats, Brawny Lads, and strawberry pie to the after Mass crowd.
Some of the Big Boy waitresses did go, and, from the stories they brought back, I didn't envy them at all.
What a mess!
Not that I was opposed to mass gatherings. It's just that the ones I participated in ran more to marching and chanting. Come to think of it, there were some entertainers on the agenda a few months later when a different half a million strong descended on Washington for the November 1969 anti-war moratorium. I'm pretty sure Peter, Paul, and Mary were on the stage. And was John Lennon there? I don't really know, but we did sing "Give Peace a Chance."
There may even have been a tune or two that overlapped with Woodstock.
Hard to believe that, at least on the bus on the way down, we didn't sing Country Joe and the Fish' anthem:
And it's one, two, three,
What are we fighting for ?
Don't ask me, I don't give a damn,
Next stop is Vietnam;
And it's five, six, seven,
Open up the pearly gates,
Well there ain't no time to wonder why,
Whoopee! we're all gonna die
Ah, Woodstock. Sure, I was not enamored of the idea of having to defecate in the pouring rain in front of zonked out strangers. But I could always tolerate some lack of creature comfort. That November in DC was pretty darned cold. (So cold that I sprung for a three-dollar blanket at a Walgreen's. The blanket shed yellow fuzz all over my surplus-store pea-jacket.) And we rode down and back from Washington on an ancient, unheated near-school bus with unpadded seats.
But to get me to put up with a mega-crowd and complete lack of the comforts of home, it always had to be for more of a purpose than listening to Canned Heat.
Like every other Boomer rapidly advancing on geezerhood - for which there does not appear to be any Moratorium, Centrum and Viagra ads aside - I find it stunningly hard to believe that Woodstock was forty years ago.
Forty years? Forty years! All I can say is so much for 'don't trust anyone over 30.'
*Other than "Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog."