Friday, August 16, 2019

50 Years Later

I originally posted this on the blog ten years ago, on the 40th anniversary of Woodstock. Here we are ten years later and a full half century past that weekend in 1969. It's interesting to look back and be utterly grateful that we took a chance, my sibs and I, and headed out that Friday morning on a trip that would be remembered for a lifetime. My twin brother and I were 17 years old; my sister was 16; our older brother was 20. We didn't bring food or a camera. We borrowed sleeping bags from our neighbors because we had never camped out in our lives. We weren't ready in any way for what we were about to experience, but we went with the enthusiasm of the moment and were not let down. We only spent one night and one morning there. Friday night we heard Tim Hardin, Richie Havens, Melanie, Arlo Guthrie, and Joan Baez. We didn't really sleep Friday night at all. The sound of a half a million people is pretty interesting. There may have been music Saturday morning, but we were sidetracked by looking for food, standing in long lines for the outhouses, and listening to Wavy Gravy tell stories and messages from the stage. We left on Saturday afternoon for the trip back home, smiling the whole way. We went to Woodstock!

When this book first came out ten years ago, the sales page website had a quote from me on it. I was so thrilled. Still am!
They came from the city, they came from the country, they drove hundreds of miles and hitch-hiked across the state to be there for day one of a three-day music festival built on a platform of peace. Learn about the experiences, the adventures and the lasting memories from the people who spent three days in a farm field, in the mud and rain and witnessed the transformation of three ordinary days into an extraordinary event known as Woodstock.

"Everyone looked just like us," remembers Robin Chanin, then a 17-year-old from suburban New Jersey who was among the nearly 500,000 attendees. "It was a great equalizer. No one stood out. There was a moving river of blue jeans and flowing hair, lots of beads, embroidery and flowers. We parked our car in a field with others, and not knowing where to go, we joined the throng and the movement simply took us there."

That's me they're quoting. I really am almost famous!


I looked through the book again and found this as well.


When I wrote this post ten years ago, I had sent a copy of the book to my mom. She was also using the internet back then, so I sent her the link to the page advertising the book with my quote. I asked her after she had seen the webpage advertising the book, "Now aren't you glad you let us go?"

"Yes and no, Robin, yes and no." I think she secretly loved that we were the rebellious young people she and my dad had raised us to be.

We went to Woodstock, my sibs and I. Wild young people we were back then. Fifty years is such a long time ago. Some dreams persist.

29 comments:

  1. So call me dumb but at the time I thought Woodstock was the 20 the place about 20 miles sfrom where I live. When I heard about the festival I wondered where it could have been then realised it was a place in the US. I think that set a trend for festivals that came afer that in the UK. Only wish I had gone to s few as it was I went to one of the Reading Festivals for one night and wish I had gone to the other two after but at least I did get to see Dr Feelgood. https://youtu.be/aBBfVBqQif8

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    1. Billy-- That is quite a video! Rock and roll all the way.

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    2. Last night I watched a BBC Documentry called "Woodstock three days that defined a generation" I was glued to see how it was there and the disorginisation of it compaired to events like that now. I'm in awe of you that you were part of that and quite envious too. How people managed to go and come back amids such caranage (to think of a better word) with parking amazes me.Makes me feel quite proud I'm of that generation. Rock on

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    3. Billy-- Yes it was utterly disorganized. I am glad we left before the torrential rains fell. I am surprised that we actually found our way back to our car. I am glad I came of age when I did. We were such dreamers. Yes, rock on!

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  2. I think most of the world remembers Woodstock and for the few who attended their lives were changed forever.

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  3. Wonderful to hear of your musical adventure! And congrats for being quoted (by name even) in the Woodstock book. I was home with 2 young boys by then, but still young enough to believe that festivals were the best thing since peanut butter.

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    1. Barbara-- I love "festivals were the best thing since peanut butter." Yes!

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  4. So many people claim to have gone to Woodstock but you have proof positive. That has to be a highlight of your life as it was the festival of the century.
    I went to one festival in Florida and still remember it clearly. We had Joplin and the Stones. It was the coldest I have ever been and it was Florida?? They were burning what ever they could find to keep warm.

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    1. Patti-- Well, I was contacted by the author of this book twelve years ago, after he had read a comment I left on someone else's blog about going to Woodstock. My sibs and I have no proof we were there other than our memories. You saw Joplin and the Stones? Wow. Two performers I never saw. How cool.

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  5. I'm thrilled for you that you were actually there and that you were quoted. I love your mom's answer to your question. I think that would have been my answer too.

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    1. Sharon-- I love my mom's answer as well. She let us go after she talked my older brother into driving us. My sister and I had told her we were going even if we had to hitchhike. I called my brother today and thanked him for taking us.

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    1. Colette-- A brief dip into an historical moment.

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  7. I listen to the Albany public radio station's local news half hour in the evening and they had a ton of stories on the several failed attempts to do an 50th anniversary "Woodstock" concert. All kinds of problems and last-second attempts to revive what was clearly dead beyond resurrection. I like to think that it was done with an eye to the profit it would be put in someone's pocket, rather than in the spirit of...the aught-teens?
    There may well be other gatherings of music and love, but none of them will be Woodstock. It cannot be recreated without a self-consciousness that was utterly absent from the original Woodstock.

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    1. CCorax-- Your comment reminds me of a verse from Phil Lesh's song The Real Thing:

      It was the real thing
      No doubt about it
      The kind that you remember when it's gone
      The real thing
      Not like passion's fire
      But a burning, smoldering, eternal flame
      It was the real thing

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  8. Because I was lived in Northern California, going to Woodstock was out of the question for me, so you are among the few people I have known who were there 50 years ago. The only child of someone I was acquainted with was conceived during the Woodstock weekend, adopted at birth, and could be a grandmother by now.

    For me, seeing the movie that came out a year later was as close as I got to being there. Jimi Hendrix playing "The Star-Spangled Banner", the brief footage of Janis Joplin arriving with her band on August 16, Santana playing "Soul Sacrifice," and Richie Havens singing "Freedom" are what stand out in my mind when I think of Woodstock.

    Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin died a few weeks after I drove to San Francisco in August 1970 to see the film "Woodstock," Jimi Hendrix dying in mid-September and Janis Joplin in early October. The Vietnam War continued for 6 more years. So much has happened since then, constructive and destructive. 50 years later, I wonder how many of the half a million people who attended are still alive.

    Astonishing, too, is that 10 years have passed since your 40th anniversary of Woodstock post! We've been blogging for a long time now. There is something of the Woodstock spirit of a meeting of kindred spirits in our blogging community.

    This is as relevant today as it was in 1969 with its haunting evocation of the war in Vietnam and the wars at home.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MwIymq0iTsw

    That led me to listen to this:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGf9PTYyJ4A

    Some dreams persist. Your voice continues to be heard. Good to hear your mother's voice again. Thank you, robin!

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    1. am-- I think if we had been living in California at the time, we would not have even considered going. Our hearts would have wanted us there, but our practical resources would have gotten us there. Luckily we were only 120 miles away in our little suburban NJ neighborhood. I love your perspective about the blogging community being like the spirit of Woodstock. Yes! Thank you for that, my friend, thank you.

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  9. Awesome! You made history! You're one of the few (possibly the only?) people I know who actually went. And you saw Melanie! I've been a huge Melanie fan for years -- so much of her work is overlooked, or people only know her for "Brand New Key," which isn't even her best song.

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    1. Steve-- Not many people remember Melanie, but I do. I'm glad we got to see her and so many others that first night. The last performance of the evening was Joan Baez. How's that for a sweet good night!

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  10. Is it possible that I read your 40th anniversary post? I seem to remember it. Have I been a reader for 10 years? Wow.

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    1. Mark-- You may have read that post back then. If we found each other through Niches, that was one of the very first blogs I ever bookmarked in 2005. In fact, it's still first on my list even though it's been dormant for years.

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  11. Oh my, you are indeed famous! That is a beautiful quote. It tells me you were already you back then.

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    1. 37paddington-- I wish I had made this observation when I was 17. I was asked to write my perspective back in 2008 in prep for a book celebrating the 40th anniversary of Woodstock. Although, I'll confess, I've always been that girl. Such a dreamer.

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  12. I don't think you mentioned it, but there is a picture of you and your sibs on page 46.

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    1. Anonymous-- I did forget to mention it. I wish I had sent a different photo. The one I sent was taken in 1975, too many years later.

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