Woodstock; My direct connection

If I'm patient enough, when I least expect it, I connect directly into the one Mind and he/she, depending who is on duty, sends along those quirky little opportunities that are more about completion than random chance.

This week we have a playwright from New York staying with us. To help maintain his anonymity in this  bit of reflective scribble I'll refer to him as David, DR or 'the author of the play New York'. Having said that I think I'll stick with DR. You know just in case there is some issue in his story that the New York police might have in the unresolved basket or a notation is necessary on his 1969 army draft card.

DR and I are from that same era but completely different continents. While home in Australia we were all listening to what came out of the US and UK music scene and mimicking it, DR was smack in the middle of it. After talking with him for a couple of hours before dinner I'm pretty sure that the movie and subsequent song Alice's Restaurant was actually a bio of his life rather than Arlos'. I'm not doubting Arlo's integrity, but the whole military draft (birthday lottery for military service) process medical examination was almost scene for scene with DR's.



But that's a completely different, related story both for DR and Arlo, as they both had to walk around in white Y fronts in the same draft office building in New York and they both ended up at Woodstock. But here's DR's Woodstock experience, the first 'I was at Woodstock' story I have ever had relayed to me at the same table.

In 1969 DR was a New York college kid and the word got around campus about some bands pumping out some mainstream and alternate volume on a farm near Woodstock in upstate New York. It's Friday afternoon. DR, his girlfriend and one of his mates were hanging out at his girlfriend's place. They were talking about  Woodstock and how they might get there. DR suggested that as his girlfriend's parents were away for the weekend that they use her parent's car.

'What do you mean?' said his girlfriend. "steal it?'

'No way.' said DR, 'Borrow it. It's only a two hour drive'.

So that's what they did. Borrowed the car and headed off and made it to Woodstock. Well they made it as far as they could. Around about five miles from the Woodstock festival site they were forced to park the car  in the biggest car park ever seen in New York city or up state.

'And what was it like?' I asked DR.

And without a word of a lie here is DR's story. It almost reads like song lyrics.

Well after we parked the car we just joined the crowd and headed in the same direction. Then we came upon a child of god he was walking along the road.

And we asked him, 'Where are you going, man?'
And this is what he told us.

'I'm going on down to yasgurs farm
I'm going to join in a rock n roll band
Im going to camp out on the land
Im going to try an get my soul free.'

You know we thought that was so cosmic. Cause we'd had a couple of joints driving up in the car to relieve the stress of the traffic jam and the three  of us talked about how cool it would be to start up a band and grow our own food and stuff. Any way then this guy started going into this far our chant sort of chorus thing that spun us out enough to blow another couple of numbers with him.

'We are stardust
We are golden
And weve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden.'

I can still hear him circling around us singing and dancing. So I sort of joined into this groove we had going between the four of us, opened my mouth and out fell this awesome poetry that went something like,

'Then can I walk beside you
I have come here to lose the smog
And I feel to be a cog in something turning
Well maybe it is just the time of year
Or maybe its the time of man
I dont know who l am
But you know life is for learning'

This child of God guy just went nuts and started up with his chorus chant thing again. 

"We are stardust
We are golden
And weve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden.'

And that was the last time I ever saw him until many years later when he appeared on television when he was running for President of the US with the Republicans. 'Can you believe that guy?' DR asked me. 

'Okay, but what was Woodstock like DR?' I just wanted to hang on to every word. This was like a music history lesson for me that had by passed the teacher. 

Well DR went on. 

'By the time we got to Woodstock
We were half a million strong
And everywhere there was song and celebration
And I dreamed I saw the bombers
Riding shotgun in the sky
And they were turning into butterflies
Above our nation
We are stardust
Billion year old carbon
We are golden
Caught in the devils bargain
And weve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden.'

'But I don't think I really saw any of that.' DR laughed out loud. I think it was the dope doing all the imagining.'

'Yeh, but the music.' I insisted 'What about 'Soul Sacrifice' and Richie Havens and Jefferson Airplane... and the love-ins?'

'the love-ins.' He laughed again. 'It was more about mud-ins than love-ins from where we were sitting.'

DR continued to tell me his story about Woodstock, how when late at night they reached the field where over half a million hippies and freaks and average punters had gathered and the three of them fumbled and stumbled their way between bodies draped on slippery brown grass to a slither of space at the very top of the hill. 

And it was from this space that they experienced the timelessness of the legend of Woodstock. The bands on stage like ants on the moon, the music so far away you couldn't tell whether it was Country Joe and the Fish singing or Hootie and the Blowfish (now I even know Hootie wasn't at Woodstock). But the everything else that was Woodstock they tasted. The rain, the mud, the lack of toilets, the lineups for terrible baloney sandwiches, the hilarious announcements over the PA, the lack of sleep, smoking joints but not inhaling. 

The music at Woodstock was secondary to the actual event DR insisted. What was most important was having a story that is his to keep and share forever. A story about how he hung out in upstate New York with his girlfriend and best mate and half a million other people for the weekend and no-one died and one new person was actually born right in their midst ... and only God knows how many were conceived.

Oh yeah and the one really important thing. When we got back to the car it was still there and we drove it home, washed it, parked it in the garage and it looked the same as it did before it went. But us three kids weren't the same. We were changed forever.

So there it is people. One man's Woodstock story. And like DR I am so grateful they made Woodstock the movie, so that I could share and relive this event with those that were born in the right place and time to be there. Woodstock wasn't planned, it was a total happening. In a world free of mobile phones and internet and emails and ipods and twitter it all came together and no-one has been able to repeat it since, although many have tried. Woodstock lives on as a place where  people never age, where the music always sounds like it should be on the airwaves here and now and the ideas espoused still resonate deep down inside me. As well as a sensual thing it was very spiritual, overflowing with tolerance, soul and love. And it kind of gets me to wondering what all these cool folk are doing right at this minute. And if my new friend DR is a good example of those that are still out there, I know for sure that for a lot of them their thunder is still in their hearts and not hidden under their hats.
Peace, love, freedom.


Popular Posts