By The Time We All Get To Woodstock


By the time I got to Woodstock it was already over.  I went to my very first rock concerts in 1969, and some of the artists mentioned from the stage the incredible groovy far-out gas that was something called Woodstock.  In October 1969 they booked this thing called a “Rock Jubilee” in Houston’s Sam Houston Coliseum, featuring the Byrds, Poco, the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane.  It was supposed to end around 6 p.m., but it went to about 10 and they finally yanked the plug on the Airplane.  Before they did that, Grace Slick from the stage said about Woodstock: “It was a gas, man.  Wish you could have been there.”

Well.  I was about 14 years old so I couldn’t have gotten there on my own, anyway.  Cut to 1970, just about one year later: I’m in 10th grade at Thomas Jefferson High School in Port Arthur, Texas.  One day in September, Janis Joplin (TJ grad ’60) visited the school with a few friends.  They just decided to drop in just before the lunchtime bell.  She had come back to Port Arthur for her 10th year class reunion, and she took the opportunity to visit and show her friends the place, and possibly to show the locals how famous she was.

Sam Andrew, guitarist with Big Brother and Holding Company, said: “Janis was good at talking to people, and she had a compassion for people that others were ignoring for one reason or another.  Also yes, she really wanted to show img.phpthat she had made it when she went back home to Port Arthur.”

Although she didn’t stay long, she did visit with some of the kids in the cafeteria and it was clear she was quite a hero to all of them.  I didn’t get to meet her personally but I was quite impressed with the spirit and down-to-earth approachability of this great star.  It’s been a great memory for me ever since.  One year and about 1,500 miles removed, that’s always been my own little piece of Woodstock.

Until now – my son and I are going to the “Heroes of Woodstock” show at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts next weekend, on the grounds of the original Woodstock festival.   Sam Andrew is going to be there, with Big Brother (Janis died just about a month after I saw her at my high school), so will Jefferson Starship, Canned Heat and others.  So will a bunch of “hippies,” both old and young.  My son is 15 years old,  the same age I was in 1970 – so the circle closes.

The 40th anniversary of Woodstock will be widely celebrated next weekend (the festival was Aug. 15-18, 1969) and if you can, take some time to celebrate too.  Celebrate a landmark cultural event from a time that was kinder, hopeful and willing to embrace an ideal of sharing and cooperation.  We have lost an awful lot of that over the past 40 years.  So next weekend take a kid to a concert, or at the very least set aside a day, an hour or a few minutes to remember a time of peace and music.

MP3: “The Fish Cheer/I Feel Like I’m Fixin’ To Die Rag” by Country Joe & the Fish (live at Woodstock)

MP3: “Eskimo Blue Day” by Jefferson Airplane (live at Woodstock)

MP3: “Mr. Soul” by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (live at Woodstock)

MP3: “Piece Of My Heart” by Janis Joplin (live at Woodstock)

MP3: “Green River” by Creedence Clearwater Revival (live at Woodstock)

MP3: “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” by Jimi Hendrix (live at Woodstock)

MP3: “Let The Sunshine In” by the Woodstock audience

Woodstock Universe

2 Responses to “By The Time We All Get To Woodstock”

  1. dkpresents Says:

    Very cool. Thanks for the story…

  2. cool memories on your part and way cooler that you’re creating new ones with John. He’ll have this to remember when he’s your age now. How great.

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