I watched the four hour Woodstock film last night which is mostly concert footage filmed at the legendary festival in 1969. I had seen bits and pieces of it in passing before, but never really watched it the whole way through. I was moved. The whole hippy thing has become such a caricature at this point in our culture, but if you really watch and listen, you can feel what happened on that weekend beyond the higher-than-a-kites, the skinny dipping, and the brown acid scare: people hoped. They hoped for their present and they hoped for their future. They hoped for change.
There's a really beautiful segment where rains had temporarily stopped the stage performances, so the attendees start banging things together and then they chant over this self-made beat. I guess you could call it a raindance/chant in reverse.
One thing that always seems synonymous with Woodstock is drugs. I'm guessing Joe Cocker was higher than a kite, because, for one, I could barely understand a thing that came out of his mouth, and his on-stage convulsions mixed with air guitar made me realize that the war on drugs could have ended long ago, if only the government had utilized this footage. Joe Cocker's performance was difficult to watch, yet I found it one of the most fascinating as well. Crosby, Stills, and Nash's acoustic set is near heavenly, but it's the opener Richie Havens rendition of Motherless Child (aka Freedom) that is one of the most powerful on a conciousness-raising level. He radiates emotions and energy like no one else can with only a guitar and foot tapping to back him up. I can see where Jack Johnson and Ben Harper get their inspiration from. Other performances that were off the chain were The Who (who did their Tommy rock opera in it's entirety), Sly and the Family Stone (I didn't think crack was around in 1969, but from Sly's performance...well, anyhow), and of course, the legendary Jimi Hendrix. It's interesting to note that although you cannot tell from the film, Jimi played to the least amount of people of the whole festival since he ended the festival on Monday morning. There were 500,000 people or so over the weekend, but only about 50,000 actually stayed to see Hendrix, who performed one of his longest stage performances of his career. Another interesting bit of Woodstock trivia is that Martin Scorsese edited much of the film with his longtime editor Thelma Schoonmacher (who won the editing Oscar for Raging Bull).