Woodstock: 40 Year Old Virgin

Photo by Chris Luckhardt — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

If the Greeks had Epidaurus, we have Bethel.

For thousands of years, when one thought about the nature and spirit of a “festival” the ancient Greeks were the touchstone. For the last forty years, those thoughts have turned to Woodstock.

Forty years ago this week, Woodstock defined the times, the politics, the music, and a global community. And to think it was only meant to be “3 Days of Peace & Music.”

Of the many remembrances — real or imagined — perhaps the best summary has been made by Jon Pareles of the New York Times: “After the buzz wore off, the utopian communal aura of a Woodstock Nation gave way, almost immediately, to the reality of a Woodstock Market: a demographic target group about to have its dreams stripped of radical purpose and turned into commodities.”

No doubt, he is right. But there is also no doubt that although today’s music might have lost the same determination to put politics into poetry, there is still a genuine commitment to community in the fans of both yesterday and today.

After all, what are all our social networks — Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, to name just a few — but avenues to reach across geographic, generational, and class lines to connect, to make a community. As seen recently in the Iranian street protests, these networks are at their best when they are used for communal action against oppression: be it freedom from government or freedom for expression.

Isn’t that the best legacy of Woodstock?

As repressive governments still control too many people, surely we can all rally around the poets who should be free to speak their words, the singers who should be free to play their music, the dancers who should be free to move, and the actors who should be free to speak to us from a stage.

Art is a platform for questions and ideas. Maybe we are not all gathered in the mud, but we are gathered online. The question is what will we create today, what will we inspire, and what will we do with our power to gather, exchange, and express?

There is power in being a little innocent, a little naive. After all, who would ever have thought one could change the world one song at a time?

- Bill Reichblum

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3 Responses to “Woodstock: 40 Year Old Virgin”

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