The Public Records 10/26/18
We are still rocking out strong down here in The Public Records of An Sibin at Tellus360. October still has a few days left, so why not keep Rocktober going? Rock and roll history could not be complete without the mention of the seminal festival of Woodstock. Sure there were Newport festivals, the Monterey Pop Festival of 1967, or even the highly original Canadian Festival Express; but none of these were as massive or as mystical in the canon of the genre as that weekend event in the Catskill mountains in August of 1969.
Woodstock, NY was chosen as the place to host the festival due to Bob Dylan and The Band’s frequenting of the area and that then piquing the interest of other artists. Prior to the final choice of Max Yasgur’s 600 acre dairy farm which in actuality was in White Lake (not Woodstock), the organizers had a rough time finding anywhere that would let an estimated 50,000 hippie kids show up for a weekend. Not only did the organizers have trouble finding a site, but they almost had no acts until Creedence Clearwater Revival agreed to play for $10,000 dollars. After CCR was on board, the major names of the day lined up for a spot at the gig.
The festival was originally aimed at a local audience. Advanced tickets were sold in New York City record stores or by post office box at Radio City for $18 dollars or at the gates of festival for $24 (in today’s money that is about $120/$160). After the advance sales garnered about 180,000, the organizers estimated that there would 200,000 people in attendance. The governor of New York at the time, Nelson Rockefeller, wanted to send in the national guard for police duties but was convinced otherwise. It was agreed that Air Force personnel from the nearby Stewart Air Force Base helped with traffic control and flew the performers in and out.
Of course, once word of the event got out to the small, rural community, boycotts began. And to make matters worse, thousands of people began showing up days before the festival and entering the grounds before the fencing and ticket booths were up and running. The organizers had to make the festival free and this basically bankrupted them. The 180,000 tickets sold ballooned to 400,000 with the walk-ins and this shut down the town for a week. However, it all worked out in the end. The community made a ton of money from the attendees and the organizers of the event owned the rights to the recordings and were able to make a ton of money on the 1970 Woodstock documentary and soundtrack (that we are featuring this week).
The soundtrack was released as a triple album on Cotillion (Atlantic, 1970). It is designed as most multiple album releases were at the time. Side 1 was paired with side 6, 2 with 5, and 3 with 4. This design was set up so that one could lay the consecutive sides on top of each other on the popular multi-disc playing turntables of the day.
The soundtrack also included a lot of extras. Stage talk or conversation of the musicians are included on most of the tracks, so that the timing of the songs is shown while the full length of the track including the extra dialogue is in parenthesis. However, there is one little problem with the soundtrack. The band that basically made all this happen, CCR, is not included. It may have been because they went on first at 3:00 AM, or because of disagreements with John Fogerty, but Creedence Clearwater Revival was not happy with their Woodstock experience.
When all is said and done, Woodstock turned out to be one great big happy accident. A special event in American history and something that can never nor should be repeated again. Too many uncontrolled variables came together perfectly to make this ‘Aquarian Exposition’ possible – any attempted repeat would be too phony.
Therefore, in our current time of civil strife and political divisiveness; take a break from the outside world, listen to such treasures as Satana’s ‘Soul Sacrifice’ and Canned Heat’s going up the country, enjoy a tall Voodoo Ranger Juicy Haze IPA and take into consideration Max Yasgur’s words on the half million people at his farm not rioting, “If we join them, we can turn those adversities that are the problems of America today into a hope for a brighter and more peaceful future …”