I went to Woodstock. The first one – the good one. 45 years ago today.
It was my first concert. It certainly set a high bar for the rest, though I’ve seen a few good ones over the years.
It wasn’t as dramatic as it was made to sound at the time. My experience (your mileage may vary, as they say on this newfangled Internet thingie) was that you could get food if you were willing to pay for it (I wasn’t enough of a hippie to expect anything for free) and if you walked past the first few Porta-Sans, there were open ones available at the back of the line pretty much anytime.
I was a Buffalo Springfield fan, so I went to see Stills and Young play together with their new partners Crosby and Nash. That worked out pretty well and I got to see the Band ( my other favorites), Santana, Creedence, The Who, Sly, Richie Havens, Hendrix (heard him through the trees as I was leaving) and so forth. Fell asleep on the Dead, woke up to Jefferson Airplane.
Slept in the back seat of my father’s car on the really rainy night so I wasn’t quite as drenched as I could have been. Stayed a good distance from those swaying light/speaker towers, because they looked positively scary to me. And wasn’t interested in the blue acid or the brown acid or any kind of acid and that instinct served me well most of my life. I certainly inhaled, but I was cautious about what and from who and how much, which is why I can still string a few sentences together.
The best story I have from the festival is this: I drove up with a buddy, his sixteen-year-old sister and a friend of hers. We came up from Lake Hopatcong NJ through a back road behind Stroudsburg PA and met up with NY Route 17 about five miles from Bethel, where the festival was held. The girls jumped out at the intersection, saying they’d see us Sunday night for the trip back.
When we got back there Monday morning, they were just arriving. They wanted to know how the concert was. You didn’t go? No, we stayed in Monticello, they said. Monticello was where the bands stayed. They smiled like the cat who…never mind. Let’s just say they smiled and wouldn’t tell us a thing.