Three Days of Peace
Forty-four years ago in upstate New York for three days almost half a million people lived elbow to elbow enjoying non-stop music, suffering through bad weather, lays offs and a sea of mud. Woodstock was held August 15th, 16th and 17th on Max Yasgur’s dairy farm. It was three days of peace and music. Sponsors only expected the concert to attract 200,000 people, there expectations were doubled as more and more people showed up. Eventually they lost track of charging everyone as they started pushing down the fences and getting in free. The only ones who really had to pay were the ones who had bought their tickets ahead of time.
Cars lined the streets for miles and groups of people walked between them sometimes for hours toward the music. Some of the bands and singers that played at the festival were The grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, Creedence, Sly and the Family Stone and Richie Havens. This event was later named Woodstock by organizers. It was named after the Catskill mountains where they had originally hoped to have the festival. Woodstock was created through the efforts of Michael Lang, John Roberts, Joel Rosenman and Artie Kornfeld. Though Michael was the biggest promoter the three days of peace and music could not have happened without all of there help.
Many people who that attended the concert were part of the counterculture and they actively protested against the Vietnam War. Even the songs that played eventually started to have things about the war in them for example in Edwin Starr’s anthem called War, “War huh, yeah/ What is it good for/ Absolutely nothing.” He bluntly refers to war in the song repeatedly it was one of the greatest anti-war protest songs of its time. It also reminds people of the horrors of Vietnam which angered them therefore they continued to protest even after Woodstock. “Woodstock was the place where counterculture reached its peak and hippies finally had the chance to be part of an entirely utopian society” Hippies finally got to experience a united community without even a fight breaking out during those harsh unsanitary three days, they held peace the whole time.
Most of the people who joined the concert were referred to as hippies. Those hippies experimented with many illicit drugs throughout those three days. Such as Weed, Heroin, coke, shrooms and acid. Security was overall nice about the drug situation though many people were arrested. Special tents and places were set up for those who were going through a bad trip.
The swarm of people blocked any entrance for musicians equipment or first aid therefore they had to be transported by helicopter. Only one day into the concert cars were parked all the way back to the highway. Four people died during the event, all from drug overdose and there was many injured, yet not from fighting. Woodstock was the biggest symbol of rebellion during its time. It was a peaceful demonstration surrounded by violence.
During that time things had gotten so out of hand, people were getting arrested for something as miniscule as standing in the gutter. Police riots broke out at the drop of a hat, we had reached rock bottom and it was chaos. Woodstock proved to people that there could be peace if they all learned to get along. Even with everything happening all the violence and riots and death they stayed in peace. There was nobody getting killed, arrested, beat up or knocked down at Woodstock. Just music, peace and love. Everyone at Woodstock was part of a huge family of nearly half a million for three days.
Woodstock was one of the biggest turning points in culture. One impact it had on America, people realized that music could bring everyone together. In fact only a year later the Pinkpop festival started followed by many more over the years all inspired by Woodstocks festival. Another impact Woodstock had on America was the youth it was the most noticeable impact. It gave the youth a voice for once and they took full advantage of it. They began to question the people in charge. With all the riots and violence at the time was the authority helping them or hurting them? The U.S. lowered the voting age to 18 not long after. The youths new outlook on everything most likely impacted the United States decision. The newest group of teens and young adults were left to deal with the consequences of their parents generations choices.
It is unlikely that such a massive festival like Woodstock would ever be recreated, however we did try. Our attempts ended in flames not nearly adding up to such a cultural event. Woodstock’s attempted recreations occurred in 1979, 1989, 1994 and 1999. So what made the original Woodstock so different. An attempt to recreate a peaceful demonstration was corrupted by violence. However people will continue to try to reach that feeling and that achievement the first Woodstock created.
After Woodstock music became more creative because musicians were no longer just making music for the profit they started expressing ideas and personal thoughts through the songs they wrote. Music brought people together.
There is both positive and negative opinions on how Woodstock changed American culture. After Woodstock authority, as if it was even possible, became harsher toward the hippies and the hippies fought back and protested against authority more than before. It was like two completely different groups and nearly enemies were just head butting at a stalemate. In that time there were so many things to protest about. Some examples include civil rights, Vietnam drafting, woman’s right, student movements and gay rights which we are still protesting today. Woodstock most openly protested Vietnam but everything was included at one point or another. “By the time we got to Woodstock we were half a million strong and everywhere was song and celebration and I dreamed I saw the bombers riding shotgun in the sky and they were turning into butterflies.” Woodstock was an unexpected change in America. It can never be recreated but the feeling it gave lingers with long lasting effect on our hippie generation, our music and our outlook on authority. Woodstock brought peace to protest and Woodstock brought people together even though we are not peaceful enough to have it happen again there was a time when we could live with each other and it not end in chaos and that leaves some people with hope.