The Woodstock Festival we came to know was not the original one that was put down on paper. Here is a list of bands that refused to come to the festival for August 15,16, and 17 in 1969. Last minute changes were made to accommodate space for the bands that refused to come to a festival. The bands believed the Woodstock Festival would not be a success but a stigma for their careers. The Doors, Led Zeppelin, Jethro Tull, The Byrds, Tommy James and the Shondells, Bob Dylan, and The Moody Blues all declined. Ian Anderson summed it best, “I didn’t want to spend the weekend in a field of unwashed hippies”. The future would be interesting for some of the bands, some new and some just getting hot at the time. The Doors was to be the biggest draw, but Jim Morrison at the time was getting friendly with the law for all the wrong reasons.
40 years later and most who attended the three day concert are collecting pensions and a fleeting memory to many but still is alive as chronicled by film. When it comes to concerts, it’s not one of the best, but it’s about a coming of a generation that put a man on the moon that year. It seemed like there was nothing that could go wrong till December 6th in that same year when Meredith Hunter was murdered at the Rolling Stones concert in the infamous Altamont Free Concert. 1969 was a year of hope but murder was the de facto of a generation that preached love in the middle of the Vietnam War. Truly a contradiction but a necessary passage of time to sow the seeds of the future, and what flowers of evil we have cultivated since then. A testament of our times, Woodstock was not about music it was about a collective of humanity coming together in one place to contemplate their future, like salmon swimming up the stream to the 21st century. Some made it others not so lucky. Have we matured as a society?
We now live in fear and still marred by war and scarred by past ones. Music can bring us together, but at the end of the day, music cannot soothe the beast. In 2019 many more will still be caught in the devil’s bargain and others will make it back to the garden, 50 years will have passed and dwindled more the message of hope will dissipate like butterflies in the last days of summer.