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Thursday, August 15, 2019

Woodstock @ 50: Jimi Hendrix, Neil Young + Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock
August 18, 1969

It's been 50 years since Jimi Hendrix caught up with Neil Young at Woodstock in the summer of `69.

On that helicopter day, a half-million stories were made. And here's one of our favorites -- Jimi & Neil trying to make it to the Woodstock concert along with the hordes of flower children at the dawning of the age of Aquarius.

We had long believed it to be an urban legend that Jimi and Neil stole a truck in order to make it to Woodstock. It turns out that is not too far off the mark.

Woodstock: 3 Days of Music, Peace & Love

From a radio interview program "On The Record" by Mary Turner in 1979, Neil was asked about what he remembered of Woodstock:
Young: "One of things I remember about Woodstock was trying to get there to play.

As it turns out, the charter plane I was on with Jimi Hendrix flew into the wrong airport. We were supposed to be picked by a helicopter. The roads were jammed and there was nobody at the airport, so we had no way to get to the concert.

So we're standing at the airport with Melvin Belli [an attorney] trying to figure out what to do. And Melvin Belli steals this pickup truck parked at the airport.

So it's the three of us in this stolen pickup truck trying to get to the Woodstock concert to play -- Jimi, Melvin & me.

That's what I really remember about Woodstock.
Another variation of the story appears in David Zimmer's CROSBY, STILLS & NASH: The Biography with Neil hot-wiring the truck and Elliot Roberts, Young's manager, is driving the pickup truck with Jimi Hendrix on the hood.

Elliot says: 'Jimi Hendrix was a hood ornament! It was insane.'"

As they say, if you remember Woodstock, you weren't there...

So how about the aftermath of Woodstock?

Woodstock: A "Hippie Dream"?

One of them solves the lingering mystery of the absence of Neil Young in Woodstock, the 1970 Michael Wadleigh-directed documentary. And it would seem that's Neil Young's feelings towards that "helicopter day" only seemed to harden over the years. A quote from biographer Jimmy McDonough's Shakey has been bouncing around the blogs driven by a look at the flip-side of Woodstock in The Globe and Mail:
“Woodstock was a bullshit gig. A piece of shit. We played fuckin’ awful.

No one was into the music. I think Stephen [Stills] was way overboard into the huge crowd. Everybody was on this Hollywood trip with the fuckin’ cameras. They weren’t playin’ to the audience as much as to the cameras…I could see everybody changing their performances for the fucking camera and I thought that was bullshit. All these assholes filming, everybody’s carried away with how cool they are…I wasn’t moved.”
In an interrview on Howard Stern Radio in 2014, Neil Young said about Woodstock:
“I didn’t like the fucking cameras, they didn’t have to be on stage. They’re cameras, ‘Hello! Use your zoom, dickhead!”

“Who cares? It doesn’t matter, I was there, I saw it. Who gives a shit? I couldn’t care less.”
From The Dick Cavett TV program that was filmed the day after Woodstock with Joni Mitchell and The Jefferson Airplane's Paul Kantner and Grace Slick.

And out walks David Crosby and Stephen Stills -- basically straight from Woodstock. Stills shows everyone the mud that is still caked to his jeans which everyone seems to find pretty groovy. Stephen then plays "4+20".

There are other clips from the summer and fall of 1969 including scenes from their home studio in Laurel Canyon, California. Song clips include Crosby's "Song With No Words", Stills' "Black Queen", "Find The Cost of Freedom", and Crosby's "Laughing".

Certainly there's a lot of folklore that's been built up about going down to Yasgur's Farm and joining in a rock and roll band. Like that story about Jimi Hendrix and Neil Young riding a stolen truck to Woodstock.

So it turns out that Neil Young was actually at Woodstock afterall even though he does not appear in the film.

There are a lot of stories about why Neil isn't in the film. Most commonly, it's because he didn't want to be filmed and the lights were cut during CSNY's performance.

Neil's had a lot of contradictory reflections to Woodstock over the years. He used the Woodstock stage announcements extensively during the 1978 Rust Never Sleeps tour. (Hey, if we think really hard, be the rain.)

Conversely, look closely at the desert scene in the film Journey Through the Past where there is a shot revealing The Graduate wearing a Woodstock shirt just before shooting up.

So it would seem that some of the ethos of the period didn't sit too well with Neil judging by the lyrics of 1986's "Hippie Dream" from Landing On Water

'Cause the tie-dye sails
Are the screamin' sheets
And the dusty trail
Leads to blood in the streets
And the wooden ships
Are a hippie dream
Capsized in excess

And it would seem that's Neil's feelings towards that day only seemed to harden over the years. A quote from biographer Jimmy McDonough's Shakey has been bouncing around the blogs driven by a look at the flip-side of Woodstock in The Globe and Mail:
“Woodstock was a bullshit gig. A piece of shit. We played fuckin’ awful. No one was into the music. I think Stephen [Stills] was way overboard into the huge crowd. Everybody was on this Hollywood trip with the fuckin’ cameras. They weren’t playin’ to the audience as much as to the cameras…I could see everybody changing their performances for the fucking camera and I thought that was bullshit. All these assholes filming, everybody’s carried away with how cool they are…I wasn’t moved.”

Nevertheless, a duet with Stills on "Mr. Soul" from Woodstock was used on The Archives. So maybe the hippie dream wasn't so bad afterall?

But -- for many -- Neil seemed to really drive a stake into the '60's hippie vibe of "peace, love and music" culture with his "music can't change the world" comments last year. And based on the overwhelming reaction, not everyone agreed that the spirit of the 1960's was dead.

But we still think Neil loves hippies.


On the Greendale tour in 2003, we heard Neil say just before "Carmichael" that:
"It used to be that hippies were good and the cops are bad. Nowadays, it's the cops who are good and the hippies that are bad."

Recall how last fall Neil sported that hippie button?

Nostalgia dies hard.

peace. love. music.

We still think that's what it's all about. While just singing a song won't change the world, it's a start.

More on Jimi Hendrix and Neil Young and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young at Woodstock.

Also, see Woodstock: The Day After and whether it was all just a hippie dream?

Labels: , , ,


At 8/15/2019 07:38:00 PM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

I was a month away from my 13th birthday when the festival took place and I really wanted to be there. I had begged my parents to let me go but I was living in Oregon at the time and was obviously too young. As a consolation my parents bought me the movie soundtrack for Christmas, and I lived vicariously through those three records for the rest of my life. Considering the times in which the festival occurred: the impact of Woodstock resonated through the youth culture of the United States. The reality that a half a million people could gather together peacefully for three days while the country was experiencing racism, draft resistance and political upheaval was inspiring. Not forgetting the killing of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy it was mind blowing.

PBS just aired a documentary about Woodstock on the American Experience series that was really well done. It told the story of who and how this event happened by the people who were there and those who put up the money. The documentary allowed attendees to share their experiences and the influence it had on them. Some of the musicians who were there also shared their thoughts and memories.

Woodstock has become far bigger historically as time passes and has also become big business. It’s easy to become jaded towards the event because it has become such a huge cottage industry, but it did happen, and it worked. For whatever reason, there were three days where hundreds of thousands of people had the willingness to get along under unique and challenging conditions by supporting each other through mutual cooperation. Amazing.

Neil has a right to remember it his way, but for me, it helped make me who I am today and I’m glad I can still believe it could happen again. Hopefully in my lifetime.


At 8/16/2019 12:30:00 AM, Blogger wsanjose01 said...

I'm glad he used the proper "I couldn't care less". That's rare. And anybody who grew up in the BA knows who Melvin Belli was. King of Torts they called him. He was also in a Star Trek

At 8/16/2019 05:30:00 AM, Blogger Minke said...

Anybody else who has problems with the gender bias of the DC clip? At first DC talks over the heads of the ladies to Stills and Crosby and when addressing Slick trying to be tacky? Ha. We have had to come a long way since Woodstock and have not nearly arrived where we should be.

At 8/16/2019 10:02:00 AM, Blogger bob g said...

I thought it was interesting that during the PBS Woodstock doc the narration and interviewees never mention Neil (at least that I heard). It was mentioned how great CSN were.


At 8/16/2019 10:38:00 AM, Blogger thrasher said...

@ Dan - we hear you about living vicariously through those three records.

Pretty much same memories and eras here @ TW, as well.

Recently, one of our local musicians was interviewed about Woodstock. He had attended at young age. Like 14 or so. In the interview, he talks about he got lost right at the start of weekend and never saw his friends he came with again. But everyone took care of each other. With food, water, shelter, etc. Even $ to ride a bus back home.

For him, Woodstock was all about the caring for one another. That was his memory 50 years later. Maybe it was all just a hippie dream? But, for him it really was 3 days of music, peace & love.

@ wsanjose01 - Melvin Belli was a character of his times.

@ Minke - well, yes, we have had to come a long way since Woodstock. as you say, but not far enough. carry on

@ bobg - we caught bits and pieces of the PBS doc. It was well done. In retrospect, when you realize how much filming was done, the number of camera, film stock, etc, it does seem a really amazing confluence of factors which made for such a historic weekend. Obviously, the film and soundtrack is why Woodstock 50 is observed and why Woodstock 100 will be observed.

If Woodstock hadn't been documented as extensively, then the weekend really would have been a hippie dream.

got to get back to the garden...

At 8/16/2019 12:15:00 PM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

The one artist that was on the bill at Woodstock that I desired to witness the most that weekend was Jimi Hendrix. I had heard and knew about many of the bands, but at that time it was The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix I was really into at that moment. My older brother Jim was responsible for turning me on to the non top 40 bands of the sixties, like Zappa, Grateful Dead, The Band, and Incredible String Band.

As young as I was then, it was the music that was my escape mechanism from the insanity of the decade. It was the music that informed my perspective and thought processes about the world, and continues today. Maybe that’s what draws me to Neil Young so strongly. He’s always in the moment. Occasionally he looks back, but generally he stays in the present moment, and reacts to what’s happening now. I actually think that is why he has such a multi generational fan base.

For those who have yet to see the documentary, I encourage you to check it out. Very moving stuff and a great deal of unseen footage. Thank God for Wavy Gravy and those folks of the Hog Farm. Without them, Woodstock may have been a very different event. Watch the documentary and you’ll know what I mean. “The Please Force”. Those people were special.


At 8/16/2019 01:02:00 PM, Blogger wsanjose01 said...

Lets not forget how great Max Yasgur was. Sad he died only 4 yrs later at 53 of a heart attack. In a time when the older gen. was shaking their heads at the youngsters he basically welcomed 400k to his yard. Love this clip: I saw the PBS thing. Thought it was very well done. Wavy Gravy and his cohorts were indeed great and indispensable. Theres a great story of lore how he confounded cops with his wonderful nonsense to the point of them saying "Youre too weird to arrest". Love it

At 8/16/2019 05:52:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

What time Sha-Na-Na comes on stage?

At 8/17/2019 02:44:00 AM, Blogger Babbo B. said...

Sunday at 7:30 a.m., before Hendrix at 9 and after Butterfield Blues Band at 6 (who followed CSNY at 3).

At 8/17/2019 10:16:00 AM, Blogger windsaloft said...

never trust a hippie

At 8/17/2019 11:20:00 AM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

@Biteme. Hippies are now called Hipsters. It’s just a hippie with a smart phone.

At 8/17/2019 11:56:00 AM, Blogger windsaloft said...

...and a Crosley, to play their "vinyls"

At 8/17/2019 02:48:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I was 11 days away from turning 16 when Woodstock festival was due to happen. My dad, then a New York State Trooper, wasn’t too keen on me going to Bethel...when I asked if I could go, he said “There’s no food or water there, there’s no toilets, and the Thruway is closed. NO you’re not going.” And that was that! But through the years I met various people who did go to the festival and the stories were quite colorful. My late husband went on Day 2, walked 7 miles from Monticello to the festival site and stayed the afternoon, then walked back to his buddy’s car. He ended up so dehydrated and went to the tiny emergency room in Liberty & got IV fluids. He said he was really a mess and he wasn't the only one. But it was memorable for him! We found our way to the site in 1988 and walked around (this was before the museum and concert arena and commercial stuff was built). At that time, I felt the connection to a part of that site’s history, even though I couldn’t be there in 1969, and I’ll never forget it. Love exemplified!! ☮️

At 8/17/2019 09:29:00 PM, Blogger Fort Mac said...

Wow ... peace and love
garbage left behind for locals to clean
Far out .... what a movement that changed the world .

Then you voted Nixon in ..... do ya dig it man ?

Peace and love puppets of the NRA .

Mr. Earth t-shirt wearing rock star preaching another way .... flying a diesel bird ?


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