Woodstock At 40 Retrospective

by David Bowling


Forty years ago this month, for three epochal days a farm in upstate New York became the center of the musical and cultural universe, hosting a seminal music event for the generation of youth who came of age during the 1960’s -- no, the seminal event -- Woodstock.

The summer of love in San Francisco, the philosophy of the so-called hippie generation, the rise of recreational drug use, the escalation of The Vietnam War, and the change from the simple music of The Beach Boys, The Four Seasons and many of the British Invasion artists to that of Jimi Hendrix, The Jefferson Airplane, and The Grateful Dead all came together one weekend in August 1969.

Woodstock went beyond just a music festival. It was a social and political statement by a generation that hundreds of thousands of young people could assemble together in peace and harmony. While it would prove to be an impossible way of life to maintain in the real world, for one shining weekend it happened.

Forty years later we are left with the music. Careers would pass each other as the artists shuffled on and off the stage. For Joan Baez and other folk artists of the sixties it was a last hurrah. The Airplane, The Who and The Dead were stars and would continue to be so. Johnny Winter and Santana were virtually unknown when they took the stage. Jimi and Janis would both be dead a little over a year later.

The Daily Vault's "Woodstock At 40" retrospective can only convey a small part of the Woodstock experience. The music is authentic of the time and much of it remains eternal. It not only evokes memories for a generation growing old but provides pleasure for fans not even born at the time of its creation.

Woodstock remains a unique point in time that was never duplicated. The Vietnam War would kill over 50,000 members of The Woodstock Generation. The Rolling Stones and The Altamont festival were less than four months away. Sly & The Family Stone would bring the musical curtain down on the residue of the summer of love with their release of There’s A Riot Goin’ On in 1971 which exposed the under belly of a society that could not co-exist with the Woodstock philosophy.

August 2009 is an appropriate moment to stop and reflect upon -- or just enjoy -- the music that was left behind.

Beginning on August 10, and running every day through the 29th, The Daily Vault will publish reviews featuring many if not mosot of the artists who played Woodstock, including the famous soundtrack albums and also more recent DVD releases.

Founded in January 1997, the Daily Vault has featured more than 6,000 reviews of more than 2,800 artists from all across the musical spectrum, written by a volunteer staff from around the world. Previous Artist Of The Month retrospectives have spotlighted the work of artists from Tori Amos to Frank Zappa, including the Beatles, Depeche Mode, Garth Brooks, Led Zeppelin, Madonna, Metallica, Pearl Jam, Yes and many others. Themed retrospectives have included punk, hip-hop, classic soul, classic jazz, Broadway musicals, Christian Contemporary Music, live albums and modern prog.


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