Saturday, November 27, 2010

Research Paper on Woodstock

Research Paper on Woodstock

When it comes to music, since its contraception, each generation has had something to celebrate. In 1969, because of the need to celebrate, a three day, muddy, drug induced haze in Sullivan County, New York that became known as Woodstock was born. The Woodstock ’69 festival has evolved from a national concert to promote peace, love and social prosperity to the Woodstock ’99 show which was a world wide music event that was focused around commercialism, greed, selfishness, and the attempt to re-create a time of music and peace that happened to turn into one of the greatest musical concerts in the history of music.

In a viable effort to re-create the original Woodstock for a new generation in 1999, there were some similarities that attempted to stay true to its historical roots ,while there were many differences making the thought of Woodstock ’99 into something totally different for today’s generation.

Through much controversy and many differences, there were some similarities that shined through without question. The tribute factor of both shows is evident. The 1969 show was a tribute to peace, love, and social prosperity; and it was conceived by many as a tribute to the generation. Though the war was in full effect at that time, the people had it in their heads that it was still a good time to celebrate and come together to as one to spread love and peace everywhere.

The 1969 show was considered to be the end of the hippie era and the beginning of something new after the war. Many of the performers were dedicated to the anti-war campaign and over whelming patriotism.


The show began at 5:07pm Eastern Daylight Savings time on August 15, 1969. After some rearranging of the lineup, it came to be that Richie Havnes opened the show, followed by such artists as Country Joe McDonald, Tim Hardin, Ravi Shankar, Joan Baez, and Sly and the Family Stone. The set was to end at 3:00am with The Who. Havnes had to play for almost three hours because other acts had not arrived. While he was playing his last song, “Freedom”, a US Army Helicopter arrived with the other acts. Saturday’s lineup included some of music’s greatest. The Grateful Dead, Credence Clear Water Revival, Janis Joplin, Santana, and Jefferson Airplane were among the many that took part.

One of the most memorable performances of the entire show was The Great Jimi Hendrix playing “The Star Spangled Banner” on his electric guitar at 9:00 Monday morning. The anti- war aura that was already present at the festival was now even more because of that.

The ’99 show started in a very similar manner with Kid Rock playing Jimi Hendrix’s “Star Spangled Banner” at the opening of his set. That, too many, was an impressive attempt to give respect to the late and great. Hendrix was remembered by many artists and bands at the show. The Red Hot Chili Peppers covered his song “Fire”. Tammy Rae gave tribute to the late Janis Joplin by performing her song “Mercedes Benz” that seemed to be a crowd favorite. The organizers, in hopes to re-create some of the nostalgia of the first show, brought some artists that were around during the first show and that era, such as Santana (who has performed at all three Woodstock shows), James Brown, George Clinton, and Aerosmith, who did not perform at the ’69 show but attended, and ended up playing at both the ’94 and the ’99 shows.

As time went on after the ’69 show, people tried to create shows that would be bigger and better than Woodstock. In 1970, The Rolling Stones organized a show they dubbed “Woodstock of the west” in Altamont, California. However. Unlike the peaceful atmosphere at Woodstock, the Altamont show turned deadly when the Hells Angels biker gang was hired as security and beat a black man to death in the crowd. This was not the only show to try to re-create or live up to the original Woodstock.

In 1994, they tried again making another Woodstock, however this show wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. A few months after Woodstock ’94 had wrapped up; another show was organized in hopes to beat the success of the ’94 show. This show was called “Lollapalooza”. It was a weak effort to surpass the ’94 show and was certainly not even close to the ’69 show.

After the ’99 show, the large, outdoor concert atmosphere with numerous bands and performers seemed to take on a large following and became very popular among then new generation. After noticing this, a 40 city tour, sponsored by Vans Shoes was put together involving 30-35 bands that became the Warped Tour. This tour is still happening today and is extremely popular among teens and young people of today’s generation.

After the “rival” shows came to be, it became apparent that like in 1969, the new generation was accepting variety and liking it.

After looking at the comparisons of these two shows, there are many differences as well. One major difference was the celebration fact. In 1969, the generation was celebrating love, peace and the end of the hippie era. In 1999, there was nothing to celebrate. They used the ending of the millennium and the beginning of a new one to be their reason to celebrate. In 1969, it was a time where they were coming off the era of the “British Invasion”, one of the greatest eras in music history. In 1999, yes, we were coming off what some would call the “second greatest rock era” being the grunge/alternative wave. However, the most popular genre of music at that time was the newly born rap/rock, introducing new artists such as Limp Bizkit and Insane Clown Posse, and the fathers of rap/rock, Rage Against the Machine. After two years though, the rap/rock genre wasn’t totally out of the mainstream, but it was definitely not the most popular.

Another huge difference was the crowds at both shows. At the ’69 show the crowd was mellow, laid back, and kind of doing their own thing, where as at the ’99 show, the crowd became violent and destructive causing mass chaos.

The ’69 show was very laid back, peaceful, and happy. This was a reflection of the people of that generation and the culture of that time. Things were taken in stride and put to rest the easiest, painless way possible. They were already against the war, so instead of mirroring the war back at home, they decided that peace and love were the answers.

However, in today’s society, that is not the same theory. At the ’99 show, after days of being in the sweltering heat and blistering sun, and having bands like Sugar Ray cancel on the day they were supposed to play, things got out of control. The security was useless trying to stop a powder keg of rage ready to blow. Fires were started, cars were flipped, fences were torn down, and everything was vandalized. This was not the ideal celebration of love, happiness, and music the original Woodstock ’69 organizers had envisioned. This was out of control chaos that left 8 women with miscarriages, numerous rapes, burns, and many broken bones.

If the people of the earlier generation were about promoting peace and love, because that’s how the culture was at that time, does that mean that the people of our generation are violent, selfish, greedy, and destructive? The ’99 show had an impact on many who either attended or watched on pay-per-view (for $89.99 for the full 3 days live). For the ones who were there, they thought it was a good time, because the biggest acts of that time were there and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. When the madness started, they were just glad to be out alive. The people who watched the show from their homes had different views on the subject. After speaking with some people who attended the first Woodstock in 1969, some who attended in 1994 and some who attended in 1999, and some who watched it from home, it seemed that those who were in attendance at the ’69 show and the ones who watched it at home had the same thoughts, “They shouldn’t have tried to re-create something so wonderful. Like the saying goes.” If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

After doing research on this topic, I have learned a lot about both shows and the similarities and differences they had, and I now feel more educated about on of the greatest events in history, and the attempt to re-create that.

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