Woodstock’s 50th Anniversary is this summer, Thursday, August 15 to Sunday, August 18, 2019. Fifty years ago, in 1969 from August 15 to 18, throngs of people came together in Bethel, N.Y. for four days of peace, love, and music. It turned out to be one of the biggest and grooviest rock festivals ever, and an iconic cultural and historical event. The concert was far-out with thirty-two acts including Joan Baez, Santana, the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Sly and the Family Stone, The Who, Jefferson Airplane, Joe Cocker, Jonny Winter, The Band, Blood, Sweat, and Tears, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and Jimi Hendrix with what was probably the most memorable performance of the festival—his profound rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner”.
Food was in short supply at Woodstock because the promoters only expected about 50,000, but around 400,000 showed up—which also created the largest traffic jam in the history of the Catskills, forcing State police to close the New York State Thruway’s Exit 104. Plus, on the second day of the festival, a downpour transformed the grounds of Max Yasgur’s dairy farm into a sea of mud.
Yasgur’s former farm, the site where all of this took place, has been remembered by the opening of both the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts and the Museum at Bethel Woods on the grounds and was also added to the National Register of Historic Places.
I am a babyboomer but I was only 12 in 1969—too young to hitchhike to Woodstock, unfortunately. However I always wanted to go, so by writing about it, I got to go, at least mentally, and I get to take all you wonderful readers along with me as well as two of my favorite characters, Cash and Keith. This Woodstock, time-travel, baby boomer, comedy romance of mine is called Back To The One I Love.
A free-spirited, baby boomer couple, Cash and Keith, find their marriage of forty-five years unraveling amid apathy, boredom, and retirement. Cash feels Keith is no longer attracted to her and he’s consumed with a couch-potato life of streaming The Orville and Game of Throne episodes all day long. Trying to hang on to their marriage and rekindle the romance they lost along the way they turn to a counselor. The therapist uses an unorthodox magical method of a time-traveling Volkswagen van to cast them back into the garden…four days of Eden at Woodstock….the epic music festival… where they first fell in love. Will the freedom of Woodstock lure Keith and Cash to push their individual boundaries and seek new lovers? Or can Déjà Vu and grooving to music….truly lead them to rediscover the peace, love, and harmony they once shared?
Cash’s mind was in a haze, floating with the music, moving her body freely―bouncing, jiggling, dancing her heart out.
Keith clapped with Cash as Jimi Hendrix picked the strings and worked the frets as he played “The Star Spangled Banner.”
In his hands, the inanimate object, the sleek, white electric Stratocaster, came to life, with jolts of electricity like Frankenstein’s monster.
This was no confused, lonely monster Hendrix created, Cash thought. This is raw, spiritual beauty.
“The notes are ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ mixed with truth and distortion, fear and hope, chaos and order, all fighting each other. It sounds like bombs and guns, screams of pain, and the whirl of army helicopters, all from the strings of his guitar,” Keith said.
“The national anthem has never been played like that before him or since him,” Cash said, with an edge of awe to her voice.
“He’s telling a story of freedom fighting to break through prejudices, lies, and cover-ups just by the way he’s playing the song,” Keith added.
“He’s incredible.” Goosebumps prickled on Cash’s arms when Jimi Hendrix laid the guitar on the stage and picked it as he ritually set it on fire, letting hype and lies go up in smoke and flames.
Tears formed in the corners of her eyes. “It’s the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen,” she said in an emptily charged, broken whisper.
Keith gulped hard. “It blows my mind.” He slapped his palms together, clapping with Cash, a long time after Hendrix left the stage.
“And we saw it twice, together.” She slipped her arm around Keith’s waist.
“How special are we?” He slid his arm around her shoulder and pulled her tight to him.