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tv   Woodstock Festival 50th Anniversary  CSPAN  January 2, 2020 12:00pm-1:02pm EST

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>> you can watch this or other "american artifacts" programs at any time by visiting our website all week we're featuring american history tv programs as a preview of what's available every weekend on c-span3. lectures in history, american artifacts, reel america, the civil war, oral histories, the presidency, and special event coverage about our nation's history. enjoy american history tv now and every weekend on c-span3. next, historian david farber looks at the 50th anniversary of the woodstock music festival, a 3-day rock concert that attracted half a million people to a dairy farm in upstate new york. he's the author of "the age of great dreams, america in the
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1960s." first, part of a 1969 abc report about the impact the massive crowd had on the small new york town known as bethel. last night the traffic was immense, but somehow between dark and dawn when the music finally stopped, they disappeared across the country. although thousands remained on tre the rented 600-acre dairy farm pitching in on cleanup detail or just waiting out the crowd. it's nestled in the heart of the catskills. the biggest town nearby is monticello. the townspeople were terrified at the prospect of the hippy arrival. before it was over something happened in monticello. residents and resorts freely emptied their cupboards for the kids. residents were stunned about their politeness.
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>> polite. >> i think they are really a wonderful group of kids. i never met so many kids in such large numbers that were so polite, so patient, so courteous and understanding under these conditions that we had here in the last three days. >> certainly in the beginning there was a great deal of apprehension. but right now i can say that the attitude of the town has changed towards these young men and women. >> they took a lot of aggravation and inconvenience that the average adult wouldn't take. >> unfortunately, because much of the press coverage was so jaundiced in its reports of what happened here, not many people in the country will learn what monticello learned. suffice it to say it was not a disaster area. there was 400,000 young people here. no police, no violence, not even arguments in the midst of a 12-hour traffic jam.
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abc news coverage from august of 1969. joining us from lawrence, kansas, is david farber, professor of history at the university of kansas. let's talk about what happened in bethel, pennsylvania, 50 miles from new york city. what was woodstock? >> i think woodstock was a surprise to the entire nation. it started one way and it ended in a very different way. it started as three days of peace and music. it was going to be a for profit music festival starring some of the biggest names in rock 'n' roll. it was like many other festivals that had preceded it in the minds of the promoters. but two days in it became something quite different, a free concert, a free concert in which some 450,000 people showed up, almost all of them young people who had to make do with what they had, who triumphed over rain, crowds, gridlock, lack of food and had an amazing
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time and showed the nation what young people were capable of. >> why was this dairy farm in new york selected for the site? >> that dairy farm in new york outside of bethel was not supposed to be what was happening with woodstock. the festival was first maybe going to be up in the woodstock area. then it was going to be down in a neighborhood not too far from woodstock. permits weren't given. townpeople decried what was happening. with less than a month to go max yasgar, a dairy farmer, said, all right, promoters, i'm going to let you use my farm. they had to build a sound stage, lighting, figure out how to create fences and really in a spontaneous way created the woodstock music festival. >> what did the neighbors think? >> i think a lot of people in that vicinity were not sure what to make of what was going to happen at max yasgar's dairy
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farm outside of new york city. there was a lot of concern, there was a lot of fear, there was a sense of what the unknown could bring. i think a lot of neighbors were furious with max for agreeing to do this. but over time i think most of those townspeople, most of the residents were won over, but not at the beginning. >> more background on what happened at woodstock, a place that became one of the iconic movements of the 1960s counter culture movement. >> the original plan was to have it in woodstock which is about 60 miles northeast of here. woodstock, new york, was a bohemian community and a lot of musicians lived there off and on, including bob dylan, the band, richie havens, van morrison. the organizers called their company woodstock ventures and they started looking for a place
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for their festival. they couldn't find a place in woodstock that was large enough. they found a property that might have worked in down the road from woodstock. they found an industrial park. they started building. they started advertising. they built the stage. they had artists creating art installations. everything was going smoothly until the locals caught wind of what they were doing and it wasn't going to be a 50,000 person folk festival after all, what they were promised. the fotown basically rewrote it laws to outlaw the if i feel. that left woodstock ventures with about four weeks to find another holocation. when they came to this property, it was a perfect shape, perfect size for the type of rock festival they wanted to have. and the rest is history.
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>> as you look at the names of the people who performed, arlo guthrie, jefferson airplane, what brought all of these musicians to this location? >> it was a real hall of fame roster. so many of these people have names we still know so well today. this was a music festival not too far from new york city that many bands and their managers thought would be a great launching pad, put them in front of a lot of people. they hoped to make some money performing. it was sort of one musician signed up, it lured another musician. it was a snowball effect. >> one of the myths i think by people who think about woodstock is that it became a place of
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violence and disruption, but that wasn't the situation, was it? >> no. i think what surprised the nation and certainly went against what the mass media had been promoting up until the actual festival began, was that woodstock turned out to be, despite some pretty dire conditions, an incredibly peaceful assemblage of 450,000 people who figured out how to get along, not let tensions erupt, not let lack of food, lack of water turn them off. they shared what they had, they worked with each other and they made an incredible event that those who attended never ever forgot. >> what is remarkable too is how this spread to a half million or nearly a half a million people. you can see the crowds in that film that was shot. they initially expected between 150 to 200,000 people to travel to bethel, new york. this is in the era where there is no social media, no websites,
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no cell phones. how did word spread about this iconic event? >> it's a real testament to how the counter culture and youth culture in general were organized at that time. there were no social media, no advertisements on the mainstream media. a lot of the word on the concerts got out through the alternative press. there was a very vital underground press at that point. every big city had one, many college towns had an underground press. the promoters did advertise in those places. it was talked about on nascent burgeoning fm radio stations. young people had their own media and it worked. word got out far faster and spread wilder than the promoters ever expected. >> what was the counter culture movement? >> the counter culture movement didn't have membership cards and there's no roster. it's a kind of amorphous word. it entitled two different things
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by 1969. one was protest culture ranging from people seeking social justice, racial justice, against the war in vietnam, the beginnings of the environmental movement. i think even more the counter culture was a celebration of alternative values or maybe just america living up to the values it proclaimed. what would equality really look like, what should freedom feel like, what would social justice live like? these are people who wanted to experience and build a different america built on some real core values. >> for those watching on c-span3's american history tv, following our conversation we'll let you listen to an oral history done by artie cornfeld. who was he? >> artie was at that time in his mid 20s. all the guys who put the concert
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together were in their mid 20s. co co cornfeld was integral to them signing the big names. he had connections. >> the legacy of woodstock is that in 500 years when they forgot about the beatles if there's still people living, they're still going to remember the greatest peaceful event. the legacy was time magazine when they listed the top 20 events of mankind, making woodstock number two, when they said it was the greatest peaceful man made event in the history of all mankind and it was second to the man landing on the moon. >> as you hear that, what's your reaction? >> well, i think artie's right to take pride in what he helped
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accomplish. top 20, we could all have an interesting debate about that. it was certainly an extraordinary event and certainly in 1969 it felt to many americans like an extraordinary event. here was a time of polarization, anger, rage, when violence was starting to become the norm in a lot of the political movements at the time. yet there they were 500,000 young people peacefully assembled trying to do something wonderful, something beautiful. i think it really did surprise the people who attended and i think it cheered a lot of americans up that young people could gather together like that and create history in a wonderful, peaceful way. >> if you attended woodstock, we'd love to hear from you. 202-748-8,00 202-748-8000. if you're 55 or older and may not have attended but remember conversations about woodstock --
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what is the most important thing as a historian that we need to understand with regard to what happened in bethel new york? >> i think woodstock has remained an important historical event really for probably two reasons. one, it was a hallmark of music history. i mean, if you've seen the movie, if you've watched those bands perform, this was an incredible event from richie havens' opening very long set where he played that amazing freedom piece to jimmy hendrix's closing star spangled banner. these are the moments that live on. it was an event that marked in some ways the coming out party for the counter culture across america. so people kind of knew about hippies in san francisco. they knew about the youth culture of music. they were fearful of the drug experiences regarding marijuana and lsd. but at woodstock people saw
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another side of the counter culture, especially in the movie that came out in 1970. here were young people who were really trying to live different values, who were trying to share and cooperate. this was the best face the counter culture could show america. i think it's been a lasting face in part because of the film that came out the next year. >> we have a trailer from that film that was released in 1970. let's watch. >> woodstock, an incredible film about an incredible event is back. ♪ >> supposed to be a million and a half people here by tonight. can you dig that? ♪ i get by with a little help from my friends ♪ >> it's amazing. it looks like some kind of biblical, epic, unbelievable scene. >> woodstock, where the cast of a half a million outrageously friendly people. >> you want me to explain it in plain english? >> it's a dirty mess.
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♪ >> woodstock, where it all began. >> the voiceover by casey casem. the organizers sold about 185,000 tickets, expecting 200,000 to show up. what were the ticket prices? and what did they do when a half million people showed up or nearly a half million? >> right. i mean, that's i think one of the most important things to ponder all these decades later is woodstock was supposed to just be another music concert. i think it was $18 if you wanted to attend all three days of the concert. you could buy tickets from all over the united states but overwhelmingly the audience came from the new york mid atlantic area. what the promoters didn't expect is that another 250 or 300,000
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showed up. they weren't prepared. they didn't have fencing and ticket booths you'd see at a music festival today. people were coming from all directions and they showed up. after a while, the promoters just didn't even try to collect fees. they announced it from the stage this will be a free concert. there have been free concerts before but never at this scale, nothing like it. i think it was that transition from this kind of commercial for profit concert to this free event where hundreds of thousands of people showed up and had to take care of themselves. that's when woodstock became woodstock. >> let's bring in our viewers and listens. bob from boston, were you there 50 years ago? >> caller: yes, i was. i was 16 years old. i was up in new hampshire working at a summer camp there. like all counsellors they had
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from europe, they say we all quit, we're going to woodstock. i said i'm quitting too. let me come. i seen the documentary in the 1980s. i didn't get to see it before that. but one thing that i noticed in the documentary that it didn't grasp the real hold of what was actually going on. it was a vietnam war protest for the most part. i was kind of disappointed about that. >> as somebody who was there, do you remember what you ate and where you slept? >> caller: well, peanut butter sandwiches. people had blankets and stuff,
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slept right there. >> thank you, bob. david farber, your response? >> what bob said about the peanut butter sandwiches very much rings true. people brought what they could and ate simply. the larger context is interesting. 1969 marked in some ways the ha hallmark of the polarization over vietnam. there were massive demonstrations. woodstock fundamentally was not political. country joe mcdonald did give his anti-draft rag. ab abbie hoffman -- it was not fundamentally about the war in vietnam. it was a kind of counter point to the war in vietnam and to the anger and frustrations and fears many americans had. it was set up as a nonpolitical event or at least politics of a
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very different kind. >> ann is joining us, charlotte, north carolina. good morning. accou >> caller: hi. thank you for c-span. it's the greatest. i had just one question. one of my great regrets is i did not make it to woodstock. i was under the understanding that there was a group called ten years after and they did a song called "going home." i don't see them ever listed as appearing at woodstock. could you clear that up? thank you and i'm going to hang up. >> thank you, ann. >> there were, boy, 30 or so acts. ten years after performed. i can't remember what their status was in terms of the film. the a lot of people get the two things mixed up, who was at woodstock and who appears in the film. i know, for example, the grateful dead for reasons that might have had to do with what substances they were ingesting at the time didn't seen the
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waiver to be in the film. i don't know the particulars of ten years after. but that's why some people's favorite bands don't show up in the documentary film. >> so drugs were prevalent at woodstock? >> drugs? the use of drugs? >> i said the use of drugs, were they prevalent at woodstock? [ laughter ] >> yes. so there was a lot, a lot of marijuana smoked. people said you only had to be within 100 yards of the stage to get high. you didn't actually have to be smoking a joint because there were so many marijuana joints being passed around. cannabis was omnipresent. it was beingd openly. lsd use in 1969 was not something young people had ever tried. at woodstock it was fairly
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easily available. a lot of people tried lsd for the first time at woodstock. imagine taking this incredibly powerful ha loo la drug in a cr 450,000. >> the official name was the woodstock music and art fair, 3 days of peace and music. we're looking back 50 years later. we have some aerial views of what the area looks like today. it is a historic site now, is it not? >> that's right. there's a wonderful museum right there. the bethel museum, wonderfully run and curated. anybody who's in the area can come and relive the woodstock experience. it's really quite special. >> bob from philipsburg, new jersey.
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you were there 50 years ago? >> caller: yes, i was. i was 18 years old. we traveled from bayonne, new jersey, after work friday night at midnight. we missed all of the folk day friday, but that was okay. we wanted rock 'n' roll. and for $18 it was a bargain with a star studded cast of great rock 'n' roll acts. we had no idea there was going to be like almost a half a million people there. >> what do you remember about trying to get to bethel, new york? because there were reports of traffic backed up 8 miles to get there. >> caller: well, we had parked our car maybe on somebody's lawn or the side of the road. we had to walk for miles on saturday morning or afternoon to get to the festival site. but i remember people, the local people being friendly, giving us water and sandwiches and being
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very nice to us. >> bob, how did you hear about it, if i may ask? there was no social media. where did you get information about this huge concert? >> caller: well bayonne is close to new york city and it was advertised. we just bought our tickets in advance. >> bob, thanks for the call. david farber, what are you hearing from his comments? >> yeah, bob's comments again ring so true and are very representative, i think, of a lot of people, one who was 1 years old. the other caller was 16 years old. i think when you look out at that crowd, you realize how young so many people were. this was a group of people 16-25. yeah, there were a few older people and a handful of kids there as well. but it was teenagers and people in their early 20s. these were young people who faced all sort of bizarre conditions, having to walk miles to get there to figuring out how
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to make do on a jar of peanut butter. these are young people who rose to the occasion and had an incredible time under incredible circumstances. that's a great story bob just told us. >> peggy from kansas, how old were you when you went to woodstock, peggy? >> caller: 17. >> how did you get there? >> caller: we drove, me and three other girls. >> what do you remember about it? >> caller: i just remember all the people, but the best thing in the world was jimmy hendrix playing the star spangled banner. >> peggy, thanks for the call. >> that's a really nice story. there were people who came from all over the country. some people came from europe. i would bet you all 50 states were represented, give or take hawaii and alaska maybe. i also think it's marvelous that she remembered jimmy hendrix and i'm sure she did. but one of the things that's
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striking is when you watch jimmy hendrix's performance and you look out, you realize 80% of the people, maybe even 90% of the people had left by that time. the audience hendric played to early monday morning was very small. it's a little bit like i was there the day this happened. maybe she heard him. i bet she did. she was from kansas. she wanted to wait until the last minute. very few people were actually in the audience when he did his show stopping overwhelming emotionally powerful rendition of the star spangled banner. >> joe from delray beach, florida, how old were you when you attended woodstock? >> caller: i was 19 years old. >> how did you get there? >> caller: i drove my 1968 mustang as far as i could. i lived in a small town in new
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york at the time. i think, if my memory serves me directly, even though it was only 60 miles north of where i was living, it took me about 8 hours to get to the actual site itself. i must have parked five miles and walked in the rest of the way. when i got there, it was a field of mud, but there was some great music. and the people were just fantastic. i think that was instrumental in forming my political views that people could get along together, that there actually could be love and peace and happiness. i think we could use more of that today. >> is that the message of woodstock, love and peace? >> caller: as far as i recall and as i said i'm 69 today, although i'm still something of a hippy, i think i'm one of the
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few residents of this retirement village to still have a ponytail, but i think the message should resonate today that we can all get along and we don't have to be at odds with each other. there's more that unites us than divides us. i don't want to be political about it, but i think that's where our current president is doing his best to undo, to divide us rather than to unite us. >> joe, thank you for the call. >> yeah. i think one of the other things that's reallythinking about and remembering is most people came to woodstock to hear the music. they were kids. they were interested in youth culture. they didn't come there thinking oh my gosh, this will be an incredible opportunity to share and live the values we claim we believe in. it was the actual lived experience of woodstock that was
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transformative. it wasn't the idea of it. it wasn't the purpose of it and its origins. it wasn't what drove most people to come to woodstock. that's what i think was so transformative. it became visible to the people there, the reports, the media coverage showed it. and the movie kind of hammered home that message. that's why woodstock lives on in memory. it's not just another incredible concert. gosh, i think beyonce had over a million people show up at a concert at one time, but we don't talk about beyonce's incredible concert with a million people. it was the lived experience of the young people at woodstock that's given it its historical resonance and power. >> tom from new york, good morning. >> caller: good morning. >> what do you remember about woodstock and how did you get there? >> i drove up in a 1964 bare e
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barracuda. i went up about a week earlier just to see what was going on at the concert site and there were an awful lot of people already there. so i decided i would go up as early as possible. i got out of work a little early on friday and drove up that day and i didn't go up 17 and in from monticello. i came up along the delaware and went in from the west side. so i got to be within, oh, a mile of the concert. but when i came over the last hill, i got to the intersection where the state police had put up barriers and as far as you could see going back toward monticello, the cars were parked five or six deep all the way back on both shoulders and both lanes of the highway. everybody had just sort of pulled up, got out of their cars and walked into the concert from there. so i came with a few more changes of cholothes and more food, mainly peanut butter and
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jelly sandwiches and orange drink. so i went back and forth between my car and the concert at times to change my clothes and eat. >> what do you remember? you mentioned the new york state police, the troopers that were there. what about other infrastructure, whether it was facilities for bathrooms, places to eat? what was it like? >> caller: initially there were places to eat at the back of the concert. you could walk up to the back of the audience and they had various vendors there, but they all ran out of food fairly quickly. and there were a lot of port a johns which they did keep up fairly well but the lines were very long. but there were also, which i think was in the movie a little bit, there were communes that had come in from california like the hog farm and other people. those groups tried to feed the
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crowd as much as they possibly could with smupplies they brougt in. ultimately most of the supplies came in by helicopter. the u.s. army and the national guard flew people in and out of the concert like if it was a medical emergency and also flew food in and in fact at times dropped food into the audience as they flew over the concert. >> one final question for you. was theis a political event or music social event? >> caller: for me, it was a music social event. i was a drummer in a rock band at the time and i can tell you that all the clubs area -- at that time the new jersey drinking age was 21 and new york was 18, so a lot of jersey people used to come up to new york. so we had a lively group of bands that played in those
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clubs. >> john's got a great memory. everything he said really helps give us that picture of what things were really like at that time. i want to follow up on what he said about the hog farm. the ways in which the promoters and some of the people the promoters brought in helped set that tone and create the possibility of woodstock working so well. there wasn't enough food, there wasn't enough water at first. traffic conditions were absurd. but they made some really good decisions. michael lange and artie corn if he would chose to align themselves with the hog farm.
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these were people who knew how to take care of other people. these were true counter culturists. these were not members of youth culture coming out of suburban basements or living with mom and dad. these were people who really committed by the mid '60s to creating an alternative wall. tom and lisa law were two of the members of that. lisa law is one of those people who knew how to take care of business, very practical, very thoughtful, very pragmatic even as she lived these outlandish virtues that most americans would not have considered the mainstream. she understood that you needed to bring hundreds, thousands of pounds of bulgar, rolled oats that you could feed thousands with. the hog farm distributed free food.
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nobody paid a nickel for it. groups like the hog farm are what gave substance, tone and created the possibility that woodstock would work the way it did. all kudos to lisa law, the hog farm, hugh romney and all the others. >> we brought in a group called the haog farm. that was hugh romney at the time, wavy gravy. they were used to setting up big outdoor facilities, outdoor kitchens. they were into organic gardening. their food was organic. that's probably the first time anybody had seen granola when they passed out 400,000 portions of gran knoola. more than that, more than what they provided in terms of talent, they set up kind of a vibe, if you will, of welcoming
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everybody, getting them situated and getting them to understand it's now their job to welcome the next group and get them situated. that started this whole idea of sharing responsibility and that we were all in this together and that was really what started to bring this community together. i think that's probably what had to do with the success when 200,000 turned into 500,000 and everything had to stretch. >> more background on that commune and its role at woodstock. we're hearing from those who were there 50 years ago this weekend. jamie from lindhaven, florida, good morning. >> caller: hi. it's janie. >> right. good morning jamie. >> caller: i was there back in 1969. i caught a ride with six of my friends from atlanta, georgia. i was 16 at the time and they had stopped initially at the
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atlantic city pop festival and then afterwards we went straight to where the woodstock festival was going to be held at. and when we got there we were there two weeks before the festival even started. so we started camping out and as we camped out, more and more people started to come in. we had found out that they were going to be taking applications to work for the festival. so me and my friend van wing and the rest of my group went up and we applied for jobs and i worked for food for love and van worked for security. the things that i remember about woodstock was that to me when i went up there, it was more about really gathering the tribes together. you know, because people were coming together from all over the world.
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it wasn't just a group of people from atlanta, georgia. it wasn't just a group of hippies from california or from new york. but we met people from england. we met people from other countries. we met them from all over the united states and they were like-minded. the emphasis was in the people coming together and the music was very important because that was the music of our time and it had a lot of meaning to us because it was like they were singing to our souls. the one thing that really impressed me was that there were people out there that were like me. i believed in peace, i believed in love, i believed in sharing. and we were augll together in this. when that storm hit, there wasn't anybody just pushing the other brother or sister away.
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they were gathering them together under the plastic that they may have had, whatever we had we shared. that's what this country needs. we need to gather together again, you know. it's not about the drugs, it's not about sex, it's not about skinny dipping. it's about caring for each other. that's what i got from it. i'm 66 now and like i said, my name's jeannie whitworth and i still believe in loving each other, gathering together and looking upon my brother as equal, not above me or not below me. >> jamie, thank you for the call from lindhaven, florida. it's remarkable people remember the car they were driving in. to her point, you want to respond? >> it was a marvelous testimony
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by jeannie, marvelous testament really. i think that's what people took away, that these people who came from all different corners of the united states, sometimes maybe the only hippy in a small town or the only counter culturist in their suburban community. they found each other. she used a wonderful phrase a gathering of the tribes. that's in reference to the 1967 human bean that took place in san francisco. a lot of people wanted that experience of being with like-minded people and living, even if only for a few days, a way of life. this aspirational dream of what it could be like to live in a very different kind of world. woodstock was, to use a bet of
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academic jargon, a temporary autonomous zone. it was a place that was going to exist out of time in some ways. these young people created it for themselves here. as jeannie suggests, some at least took it home with them and tried to live by those values. >> we learned from the "washington post" a bird of peace amid the dogs of war. in the summer of 1970, charles schultz using the name woodstock for his iconic bird. he says you'll never believe it. woodstock, the name that charles schultz gave the iconic bird. we're hearing from those who remember what happened 50 years ago. linda from howell, new jersey, what do you remember? >> caller: i remember it was the greatest experience. when we got there, i was from brooklyn, new york, at the time and everybody in the neighborhood was going and we all kept saying, well, we'll see you there. when we got there and we saw the
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mass of people, it was just a most loving atmosphere that you can possibly imagine. >> from your standpoint, was this a political event or a music event for you? >> caller: it was a music event for me. i wanted to see janice joplin, i wanted to see jimmy hendrix, sly and the family stone. it was mostly musical. about ten of us rented a cargo van and we drove up in the cargo van, not knowing at the time that the windshield wipers didn't work. so we were driving in that pouring rain with no windshield wipers. we pulled over on the side of the road, another van pulled over. we opened up the back doors and we became friends because they were from queens. so we saw them after woodstock. it was just a wonderful, wonderful experience. >> linda, thanks for the call from howell, new jersey. linda, i have to ask you one
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question, because there had been talk of trying to have an anniversary woodstock 50 years later. that has not come together. why? why so difficult to capture the moment again 50 years later? >> caller: i don't know. i really don't know. would i have gone now? i don't think i would have gone now. just i would like to see it on tv but i wouldn't have gone. i don't know why. >> linda, thank you. david farber? >> i think another thing that emerges from the people who were there and are giving us their wonderful testimonies is something that i think in memory we don't understand too well about the '60s. a lot of people marched against the war in vietnam. a lot of people marched against racial injustice, against women's oppression. but it was a relatively small minority of the baby boomer generation itself. so most baby boomers never marched. they never protested. they weren't self-consciously
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political people. but many, many baby boomers did feel themselves a part of this youth culture, of this cultural rebellion that was taking place. that was the politics most people lived. >> let me go to another caller. jeff in the bronx in new york, you were there 50 years ago? >> caller: yes, i was. you're right, it was more for the music than the politics. we were only kids. i was 15. my father drove us to the bus station in manhattan. >> so he let you go? >> caller: well, i told him i was going to a jimmy hendrix concert upstate. the other two guys told their parents they were going to the other guy's house to sleep over. >> that would never happen today, right? >> caller: no. my father drove us down in the cab to the port authority. when he let us out, he goes, you
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guys sure you got enough toilet paper? later on, i said he must have known what we were doing. why would you ask somebody if you had enough toilet paper if you were only going to a concert? >> did you tell your dad afterwards where you went? >> caller: they saw it on tv. they just yelled out, that's where jeff is, oh my god. >> you say a funny story. go ahead. >> caller: they put us in a u haul van. they had no more buses left. they put us in a u-haul with other people. we had to walk on 17 and had to walk ten miles to the site. on the way we stopped at a grocery store. we got a half a case of beer in
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bottles. when we walked right down to the middle we were sitting there. all these, quote, adults around us were bugging us for the beer and the wine. we said we just trucked this ten miles. you guys are adults. you should have gotten what you wanted. they tell us they'd give us $5 for one bottle. all of us worked. we weren't hurting for money. they were really bugs us for beer. you don't like to be laughing at other people but 15-year-old kids got beer and adults couldn't get their own. the best part was joe cocker. we never heard of him. we just sat there in awe of joe cocker. >> i have a question for you.
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we have a twitter poll and i'd like you to answer it as well. the question is this, did the 1969 woodstock festival have a lasting impact on culture in america in a positive way, a negative way, or no impact at all? three areas that you can decide upon. right now a majority saying in a positive way. how would you answer that? >> caller: definitely positive. everybody was expecting a disaster. it was definitely positive. nothing bad happened there. the three of us survived. when we got up sunday morning, i forget what morning it was, we had gone up the hill to sleep for the night. we looked across the other side and there was a big tanker other there. we went over there and they fed us and gave us free water. the port sans were cleaner than some of the port o sans you see
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around baseball stadiums. it was a positive impact on me. everybody was nice. the people bugging us for the beer, we couldn't blame them. >> jeff, thank you for the call. david farber? >> that's wonderful. i think his comment on joe cocker is also telling. some of the bands were already famous. they were already headline bands. but some people really emerged at that concert or became famous to a far larger crowd. richie havens was not a well known figure though he was prominent in the new york area. santana was not a well-known band. when santana got up there himself and played that guitar, suddenly that band erupted and became an iconic figure in the rock scene. for some bands there was a breakthrough moment. for some it was a validation. for some it wasn't the best show they ever played. but the music really did turn on a generation and really exposed
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millions of people eventually to the film in particular to bands they didn't know about before that time. >> john is joining us from hanover, maryland. good morning, john. >> caller: good morning. >> go ahead with your memory from woodstock. you were there? >> caller: yes, i was. my memory was what started it. it was like a spiritual awakening. it started from the whole land. you can tell by the music how it progressed. it started out with folk music and went into, you know, the british invasion and then it went into psychedelics. people would get together and set around and talk about the insights that they had gotten. that's what the power behind this movement.
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woodstock was the culmination, it was the signifying moment. i remember my -- i was just married. i had a 6 month old child. i told my wife i was going to go to woodstock. she was against it, you know. i said, look, i grew with this movement, i worked for it, i got to go. and she let me go. and it was everything, you know, that we believed in. the word hippy -- hip used to be a word from the '60s that meant you knew, you were right. and that's how they got to be called the hippies because people would stand around, share their insights and they said i'm hip, i'm hip. that's how they started becoming hippies. >> thanks for your story. as we hear these stories, there were other venues, other
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concerts in the '60s. you mentioned the turmoil of the vietnam war, the assassination of dr. king and bobby kennedy. what made woodstock different from the jazz festival in the summer of 1969? guest: there were other festivals going on. robert kennedy and dr. king, and as you suggested there were several other festivals going on. >> yes, the other festivals were take for example the monterey festival in 1966 in monterey, and it was much more commercial, and the industry controlled it h and much moreat stayed and you paid the money and sat there any listened to the bands. woodstock was not that. the multi day aspect of it while not unique, but the fact that people were camping and the fact that people were after a short period of time had to make do
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with what they had and it re created a cultural milieu with that festival, and there were en other festivals after it relatey to for woodstock, but that momen 1969 when people were so hungry for something good, something peaceful, and something that t s commemorated the best possibilities that the young people could express, i think that is what gave it its power, and it is the specific time in which it occurred, the place it occurred and the unexpected qualities that it brought forth for so many is what made woodstock so unique, i think. >> let's go to dan in roswell, georgia, and good morning, dan. >> caller: my name have van, but i attended in '69 and here today with my friend jeanne who went with me in 1969, and we went with other people, and we heard
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about it in the atlanta festival, and we dug our money together, and $75 and purchased an old ford van and made our way up here having to push it the whole way. >> van, you are breaking up, but we have the essence of what you are saying here, and little reminder of what they were driving. >> yeah. i think that, you know, that is another '60s thing that we are tending to forget about, and this is an automania company, and you could buy the cars and fix them up cheap, and the iconic volkswagen beetle was my car and you could lift up the engine itself, and the volkswagen van became this perfect people mover, and the cars were integral to the culture to give the people to energy to come to festivals. and somebody probably remembers how much gasoline cost at the time, but i think that it was 29 cents with the gallon and even
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with inflation, it was cheap. cars were cheap, and easy to fix them, and no electronic parts to repair. and so everybody remembers the vehicle, and you are right it has powerful resonance with the folks. >> i wanted to share with the viewers some of the headlines beginning with "the new york times" and how woodstock was covered 50 years ago as we listen to dan from fort lauderdale, florida, who was there in august of 1969. go ahead, dan. >> yes, i was. i came from the small town in athol, mass, and i got together with the lifeguard where i was working in the state park and his friends and we drove down there with the ticket and i still have my "survive, survive, survive hip city" flier they were sending around. and so it was so peaceful and music and everything, and it wan quite an experience. >> did you think that at the d time 50wh yearsat later, we wou
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stilll be talking about this venue in bethel new yo, new yor this concert of what happened over three days? >> caller: no, i did not. i did not. >> thank you for phoning in. ook we will go to -- fro >> isn't it amazing. >> well, we have another woodstock memory from eddie in ellertown, pennsylvania, as we are looking at old footage. >> caller: yeah, i was there and i had a good time and it was great. i grew up in pennsylvania and grew up in scotchberg, pennsylvania and my friend and i had a '59 triumph, and the four of us in that two-seated car, and we started to go mile after mile in the traffic, and we left at 4:00 in the afternoon, and my buddy, we could not drive anymore, and we park and turned out to be 12 miles from the stage. and we walked that way, and i got to see, and i started to see
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joan biaz at midnight, and we had an excellent time from there and i remember it well. we had a great time, and in fact, me and a friend went up there friday two days ago so i could stand on the same spot i was in 50 years ago. they had it pretty closed off and the venue was set up for that you needed a parking pass like it is going on today. i wat but i had a great time. i never forgot it, and i went back friday because i wanted to stand in the same part of the stage where i was 50 years ago, but it was closed off, and i couldn't do it. >> did it look the same as 50 years ago? just a couple of days ago? >> caller: yeah, i remember the lake we swam in, and i remember where the stage was, and we fie drove past it, but they had it kind of fenced off. o do it. i wanted to actually stand in the field where i was. c site a but i was not able to do it. .
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>> it is a historic site as you can see from the marker and the aerial drone footage, and if you are watching it on television, what are you thinking? >>k i am not looking at the tv, but i could in a minute, and i remember it as a field of mud, and today, it is a nice ce landscaped field and beautiful grass. >> and if you are looking closely, you will see the 50 with the peace sign as the zero to commemorate the 50th anniversary. as 21 robin from carey, north carolina, and how old were you o and why did your folks let you go to woodstock?we >> caller: well, c i was 21 at e time and we drove from just outside of detroit, michigan, and came in the back way. so we did not experience all of the traffic that they saw from new york city, and the reason, and one of the main reasons that we went obviously was for the music, but also, i don't know i. you remember johnson claire who was an activist at the time andn
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put in jail for 20 years in michigan, and part of the help purpose of thee concert for the michigan area was to be a fund-raiser to try to help his legal fund. but it was a great time. we got there friday night, and we had a tent and we came in a '63 chevy and zen seven of us i, and we camped a half a mile from the actual stage and the big thing is that between the bands and one thank people don't mention is that each band that came on stage, it took quite a while for them to set up, and so there was quite a bit of time between each concerts, and we would go back to the tent. we could hear the music and go back to the tent and sit around and enjoy ourselves, and then come back when the music started to play. >> thank you, robin, for the call. we have time for one more. marcia who was also at woodstock, and she is joining us from vermont, and you have the
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last word on this, and what are you remembering? >> caller: oh, my goodness, almost everything. almost everything. n, we came up with college friends from newton, mass, and we had to leave our car and walk, and we came in friday early, and so they took our tickets. sho and i had gone down close to the stage to film, because i shot all of the four days seven rolls of film. of movie film. e of the they had left us the next morning, because of the rain, ' and it didn't know that they h left. i stayed on. and i didn't have shoes for four days, just my camp bag and camera bag. i do remember most of the musicd
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but most of all it was the love and the caring and the sharing and there wasn't any hassle in the midst of a huge, huge crowd. >> marcia, i am going to stop you there, because we are short on time, but thank you to all of you who have weighed in with your memories of woodstock. david farber, from marcia's stories and others, what have you heard in the last hour? >> i think that what is so powerful in listening to these people remember 50 years later their experiences at this time how aspirational woodstock was for so many and the moment that everything they had kind of hoped for and everything that they saw as best about the united states and about american society sharing compassion, equality, freedom, and looking
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after one another as fellow people on the planet, and that is seeming to be the message amount least those people who remembered woodstock who wanted to take with us, and so thank you for sharing the memories, and woodstock does bear remembering over and over again. >> and so with the half minute left, what is important to remember about woodstock and why should we care 50 years later? >> i think that there is those moments in human time when we seem to rise above the everyday or the prosaic, and 1950s are filled with those great moments from the equal rights marches, and the struggle to move on past their own petty concerns and the post selfish issues that we are trying to deal with everyday and woodstock became the icon for that in this moment when they could rise above the circumstance, and rise above anger, and rise above pettiness
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and create something wonderful even if the wonder lasted three days, but it clearly lived on in the minds of those who were there, and we shouldan allk you stock of woodstock. >> david farber joining us from the university of kansas. we thank you for your time. >> thank you. american history tv products are now available at the new c-span online store. go to c-span to see what is new for american history tv, and check out all of the c-span products. 2019 marked the 50th anniversary of the woodstock music festival which attracted nearly half a million people to a dairy farm in upstate new york. next, an oral history interview with the woodstock co-creator artie


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