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Posts Tagged ‘happiness’

Woodstock 1969 Interviews – The Love Continues…

In Art, Clothing, concerts, Dating, Music, Relationships, sex, television on September 4, 2009 at 3:26 am

Woodstock crowds

August 2009 was the 40th anniversary of Woodstock, one of the greatest concerts and cultural events in history. With almost 500,000 people in attendance and 32 musicians that performed, it won’t ever be forgotten. Today, many of those who were unable to attend look back and wish that they had been there. Instead, they must rely on films and stories to experience it. For those who did attend, like Debbie Goldman Sommer, Roc Ahrensdorf, and Bob Albeck, it will always be a part of them.

How did you first hear about Woodstock and what made you decide to go?

I was 15 years old and my big brother went to a music fest in N.J. I don’t remember exactly where I heard about Woodstock originally, but I remember my discussion with my mother about going. My brother and I both wanted to go but she wouldn’t pay for his ticket. She already paid for his ticket to the fest in N.J. and said it was my turn. It was really the luck of the draw.—Debbie Goldman Sommer

Were there any repercussions either societal or from your family that you felt by going to Woodstock?

No negative repercussions; I was more like a celebrity. A friend came running into my high school speech class, waving a record album, screaming, “Debbie, you’re on the cover!” (The Woodstock LP, naturally).—Debbie Goldman Sommer

Hippies

Tell us the story about how you got there.

A friend and I took off for Woodstock in his VW bug. We had packed food, sleeping bags, etc. and headed off from CT. We got no more than a few miles down I-95, when we hit bumper to bumper traffic due to construction, during which we literally hit the bumper of the car in front of us. It did nothing to that guy’s car, but it smashed in the front of the bug.

The car was still quite drivable, so we were mixed how to handle it. Do we go and say it happened on the way back; or do we call his parents and see what they say? Well, in case the other people happened to call, we decided to call his parents; of course they said come right home.

I was home grumbling about everything, when my mom said, “Just go! I won’t get any peace if you stay home.” So, I hopped in my Corvair, grabbed all of the food, etc, and took off that Friday by myself.

I stuck it out in traffic for hours until I was finally told to park in a field. I went up to a soda stand to get a coke, when the guy said sternly “Do you have a ticket?” I said “No,” (worried he would say I can’t get in), and he said “Great! You don’t need one!”

I had managed to park within a mile of the place! I grabbed what I could carry and walked up to the site. I found a place to set up a lean-to in the woods just at the top of the field. I got my sleeping bag and everything set and went back to the car for food and anything else I might need. I even set up a small campfire in front of the lean-to. I was able to hear everything quite well from there, so I didn’t really need to go out in the throngs unless I wanted to see the bands.

The woods were full of trails with names like “Groovy Way” or “Far Out Path.” At each intersection there were people selling all kinds of recreational drugs like pot, hash, acid, etc. Everything was right out in the open. It was quite a scene!

At one point, some people asked if they could share my fire. I said “Sure!” so they set up camp there. When it started raining, I crashed in my sleeping bag for a while. When I woke up, my little campfire had become a large blaze with many people standing around drying out blankets, clothes, etc. It was amazing how well everyone got along together.

I was pretty stoned for the whole weekend, so I pretty much stayed near my camp. I would sleep off and on, catching different sets along the way. I finally woke up Monday morning around 10am to hear Hendrix play the “Star Spangled Banner”. What a way to wake up! By then there was maybe only around 30,000 people left, which seems like a lot, but compared to what had been there, it seemed empty. After Hendrix finished, I packed up everything and headed home. The traffic home wasn’t bad. It was interesting to see all of the wanderers along the way looking for friends, or their car, etc.—Roc Ahrensdorf

When you first got there and saw all of the people what went through your mind?

Early on, it didn’t strike me as anything too extra phenomenal until dusk, the first night. It became very surreal. People started noticing the magnitude of the crowd. I became somewhat panicky until meeting up with an uncanny amount of people that I knew. I had been separated from the friends I came up with, so it was scary for me. I needed my own space and it was to no avail. By daylight, it was a whole new story. By then I was used to my surroundings.—Debbie Goldman Sommer

Who was the artist that you most enjoyed? Why?

I only stayed for the first night. The conditions were bad with the mud and rain that I left. I remember enjoying Richie Havens.—Bob Albeck

I would have to say Jimi Hendrix. He was all I thought he would be … probably the most incredible guitarist ever. Also, I really loved listening to Sly and the Family Stone. I was dozing off and on, but they seemed to fit in so perfectly with the spirit of the festival.—Debbie Goldman Sommer

I was up in the woods for most of the acts, so I didn’t really “see” much, just heard them. It wasn’t until I saw the movie that I saw what was going on – Sly & the Family Stone, The Who, and Hendrix – were all great.—Roc Ahrensdorf

Did you ever think that 40 years later Woodstock would be remembered the way it is?

I didn’t think so initially but after talking to people, realizing the effect it had on so many of us, and then when the movie came out I knew that it would be remembered for a very long time.—Bob Albeck

When you were there did you ever think that Woodstock would be more than a concert?

Some of the performers tried to tell us, but I thought they were just trying to build more and more spirit due to the weather.—Debbie Goldman Sommer

What can you tell me about the peace and free love?

Most young people were against the war in Vietnam at the time. We were “Peace-niks” so to speak, and I had attended and would attend many anti war demonstrations in NY and other cities. I think this was an undercurrent at Woodstock. As far as free love, I was a bit young to participate but there was some nudity, skinny-dipping etc. that was evident. When I got a bit older I found that people were open to sexual experience and were not as concerned with the spread of STD’s as this was before AIDS.—Bob Albeck

When people look back on Woodstock one thing that stands out is drugs, what can you tell me about that?

There was plenty of pot, hash and acid. I didn’t see anything stronger than that. I imagine there were not too many people there who were not high on something. I don’t remember seeing any alcohol.—Roc Ahrensdorf

Hippies

Why do you think Woodstock is such a celebrated event?

Up until that time, I don’t think that number of people had gotten together without a single act of violence … plus that many incredible musicians and icons together, sharing the same experiences as the audience. Everyone was in awe equally.—Debbie Goldman Sommer

It was celebrated because of the enormity of it and the way we all got along with very few problems at all. This was the largest event of its kind and it affected the people that were there, the locals and the world.—Bob Albeck

Because it was the first thing of its kind. Never before had so many people gathered in one place peacefully, under very trying conditions. The hippie movement had been getting all kinds of negative press. Here were a half a million long hair kids hanging out in mud and rain, with very little food or sanitation, and doing so peacefully. These “hippies” were not so horrible after all.—Roc Ahrensdorf

Could you describe what it felt like to be standing in the rain, mud, and crowd?

It was like being in your first snowball fight – wet and uncomfortable – but you never want it to end!—Debbie Goldman Sommer

If you could go back and do it all over again, would you? Why?

Well I’m 55 and don’t regret much in life, least of all going to Woodstock. At 55, I wouldn’t do well with the bathroom situation nor the dehydration thing. I’ve gotten too accustomed to A/C and ice cubes. However, as for my son, I wish he could have that kind of experience. So the answer to your question is … of course I would do it all over again … back in my youth.—Debbie Goldman Sommer

I would definitely do it again. If I could, I would not get so high, and would have taken advantage of more that was going on. I had my camera with me, but only took four photos. I would wander around much more than I did. It was a lot of fun being part of the whole thing. If I could go back, I might even try to work there to be even more a part of it.—Roc Ahrensdorf

I would do it again. I would have liked to have been a few years older and more mature so I would have appreciated what was happening at the time. The event made me feel a part of a huge brotherhood of people who had similar ideas and values of the times. It made me feel like I belonged to something other than the family that was raising me in the traditional American way.—Bob Albeck

-Interview conducted and written by Lindsay Dahlstrom

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Top 10 Hippie Songs

In Art, Clothing, concerts, Music, Night Out, Relationships, television on August 27, 2009 at 3:12 pm

hippies

Are you groovy people feeling the peace, love, and happiness in your life yet? With all this talk of Woodstock’s 40th anniversary, Taking Woodstock hitting theaters soon, and E4A running a month-long hippie series, I should hope so! If you aren’t for whatever reason – let’s say the government’s got you down or the war overseas is too much to handle – try burning some jasmine incense and blasting these 10 hippie songs; they’re a surefire way to make you one with your personal earth mother!

10. Woodstock – Joni Mitchell
9. Good Morning Starshine – Oliver
8. Green Tambourine – Lemon Pipers
7. Lady of the Lake – Strawberry Alarm Clock
6. I Dig Rock and Roll Music – Peter, Paul and Mary
5. In a Rainbow – Sweetwater
4. Itchykoo Park – The Small Faces
3. My Generation – The Who
2. White Rabbit – Jefferson Airplane
1. Hari Om – Ravi Shankar

Check out why Woodstock was so big in 1969, and how to turn your room into a Hippie haven!

-J. Federico

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