I often listen to “The Sunday Edition” on CBC radio, as I paint my square on Sunday mornings. That was what I was doing today. This morning they spent an interesting 45 minutes talking about Woodstock, which happened fifty years ago this summer. For an old guy like me. it shook loose a lot of old memories.
Fifty years ago at this time, I was living in an old school located at a country crossroads on the island of Hawaii named Pepeekeo. I was taking Peace Corp training, with a group of other university grads preparing for a stint in the Philippines. (I never made it to the Philippines, but that is a different story.) At any rate, there I was living in Hawaii for two and a half months.
Then as now, music played a really big part in my life. I was deeply devoted to Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, The Beatles, The Byrds, and the Buffalo Springfield. Both the Byrds and the Buffalo Springfield had broken up, but in 1969, David Crosby of the Byrds, had joined up with Stephen Stills of the Buffalo Springfield, and Graham Nash from another really good harmony-based group, The Hollies, to form Crosby, Stills, and Nash. They put released their first album in May of 1969, and it’s vocals and guitar riffs, blew me away.
Anyway, had to pretty much leave music behind in Indiana, when I went for Peace Corp training in Hawaii, although I did end up buying another copy of the Crosby, Stills, and Nash album in Hilo, even though I didn’t really have a record player.
Their song “Wooden Ships” reflected what I saw in Hawaii, ie. a lot of young people leaving their mainstream life behind, retreating to the islands to eat berries or whatever they could find, and survive the best they could. I was shocked the first time I saw a guy, sit down at a restaurant table and finish off the leftovers on a plate that remained after a diner had left.
Anyway, I was still following music the best I could despite the restrictions of the Peace Corp training. It was during my training that I came upon an article in one of the weekly news magazines telling about the big music festival at Woodstock. It told of the huge crowd of people like me and the mud and rain, but also the musical talent that had performed: not only Crosby, Stills, and Nash, but also Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, The Who, Mountain, The Band, and others that I really liked.
I was saddened to have missed such a monumental musical event, but it wasn’t hard for me to rationalize that at least I was living in the paradise of Hawaii.
The photo shows part of the beautiful shoreline of the Big Island.
If you want to listen to the CBC discussion about Woodstock, here is a link: