What Was So Great About Woodstock’s Three Days of Rain and Mud?
“Word spread quickly and you had all these people coming and causing traffic jams that paralyzed miles of highway which meant nobody was able to bring in extra food or medicine or supplies,” said Makower. “People were crowded, it was hot and humid and then it rained and rained and rained.”
The rain quickly turned the dairy-farm-turned-concert-arena into a muddy, slippery swamp, putting at risk the electrical equipment and the attendants camping on the crowds.
“Everyone was sitting on the ground where the lighting and sound cables were running underneath them while it was raining and nobody was sure if the canvas over the stage covering hundreds of thousands of dollars of electrical equipment that was filling with water was going to hold,” said Makower.
And, of course, there were the drugs, mainly marijuana, LCD and mushrooms, said Makower, mixed with plenty of alcohol.
Woodstock’s Lasting Legacy
“Woodstock created a can-do spirit among the generation,” said Makower. “People came together under the unpleasant circumstances and helped everyone else and survived what everyone outside the festival grounds dubbed as a ‘disaster.'”
With the Vietnam War still raging overseas and anti-war protests raging at home, Woodstock became a place where those people likely to be affected by the draft could converge.
“Nobody was really aware of how big this sort of counter culture was and how deeply their ideals had penetrated,” said Anthony DeCurtis, a contributing editor at Rolling Stone magazine. “The thing about Woodstock is that it really came out of the blue. Nobody really anticipated what it was going to become.”
“There was this element of presenting this alternative view of reality through Woodstock,” said DeCurtis. “In 1969 there were probably half a million soldiers in Vietnam and here we are at Woodstock with half a million people there.”
“Woodstock became this symbolic event of ‘this is how we want to do things,'” said DeCurtis. “It was non-violent. There was music, sex and drugs.”
“It showed it was possible to live a more sensual and peaceful life, and with Vietnam going on, that was very much a counter image,” said DeCurtis.
Woodstock garnered much media attention during the three days, and opened the public’s eyes to an entirely new consumer base that they’d never before thought of marketing toward.
“In a way, we came to Woodstock as half a million individuals and we left as a market,” said Makower. “A generation that had its own tastes and sensibilities and power in the marketplace.”
“I don’t know if the world was different on Aug. 18 than it was on Aug. 13,” said Makower. “I think what happened at Woodstock reflected the changes that were already in place and made it more visible.”
Before Woodstock, most adults looked at the hippies with long hair who took drugs and listened to rock music as “misfits,” not as a “political force or a market force or as a social force,” according to Makower.
Was Woodstock the Beginning or End of Something?
Fornatale says that those who remember Woodstock often argue about whether the event was a beginning or an end to something. He says it was both.“
“It was the beginning of this awareness of this generation as a consumer group to be exploited by corporate America,” he said. “And it was also the end. Woodstock had never happened before and it has not happened since and it will never happen again.”
Makower agrees and says that one of the reasons Woodstock’s anniversary creates such a sense of nostalgia for those has-been hippies is because they, too, know that another event like it is unlikely to happen.
“In order to have another Woodstock, you have to have another 1969,” he said.
“You could create something called Woodstock just as you could bring together four guys, three guitars and a drummer and call them the Beatles. It wouldn’t be the same, or even close.”