Sunday, June 11, 2006

Revisiting Woodstock Music: or Playing In The Mud (Or Clay)

I was 19 years old in the summer of 1969. Yeah, I’m one of those middle-aged women that is a fan of Clay Aiken and who the media dismiss as someone with no musical taste. After all, if you are middle-aged, you only listen to “easy listening” music – you certainly can’t appreciate “new” music. Of course, the fact that in 1969 I was heading towards Woodstock apparently escapes notice of these very cool music reviewers and journalists. Surely someone who listened to The Who, Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Ten Years After couldn’t possibly appreciate the legitimate pop stars playing all over the radio. I mean Jessica Simpson and Kelly Clarkson are what’s happening and we, on the other hand, are knitting booties for our cats while listening to Andy Williams. What can we possibly know about music? And the new alternative rock bands? What a shock that some Clay Aiken fans actually listen to Arctic Monkeys or Panic at the Disco. I guess the fact that The Velvet Underground started the indie trend in the 1960’s and the fact that some of us may have listened to the New York Dolls or Sex Pistols escapes them. Of course, punk rock must have been a figment of our imaginations.

Anyway enough about those “too-cool-for-school” critics. Let’s reminisce. No – not about Barry Manilow or Liberace. Last night, I put on the film, Woodstock which I hadn’t seen in a number of years. So now I think it’s time for a little flashback . . . Peace, Love & Rock and Roll!

Woodstock was a three day festival of music that took place in upstate New York in August of 1969. To read more about the history of the festival, click here 1969 Woodstock Festival & Concert

We decided to watch the film because I had been thinking about some of the extraordinary acts and how they have stayed with me all these years. Ten Years After blew the roof off (if there had been a roof *g*) the place! It was the first time I had ever seen Alvin Lee. A funny-looking skinny little guy who made crazy faces when he played the guitar. And wow! Could he play the guitar. It was instantaneous – he just did something to me that I couldn’t explain or figure out. I thought it was one of the sexiest performances I had ever seen. Here’s a partial clip from the film of this amazing performance of I'm Going Home.

The whole song was more than 11 minutes and you can view the complete video on Google Video.

The Who were already big stars at the time. But they came away from Woodstock with their reputation cemented as superstars. They didn’t actually start playing their set until around 3 AM and played an amazing 24 songs – but their version of See Me, Feel Me as the sun was rising was one of the truly spectacular moments at Woodstock. Listen to that and Summertime Blues. Do you think we'll ever see Clay in the outfit worn by Roger Daltry?


Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young had just recently come together right before Woodstock. This was basically their real first performance as a group. At Woodstock they played 16 songs but Neil Young refused to allow his participation to be filmed. So here’s CS&N performing Marrakesh Express and a lovely version of Blackbird.


One of the most talked about moments at Woodstock was Jimi Hendrix’s version of The Star Spangled Banner – and one of the most controversial after.

There simply are so many amazing musical moments from Woodstock – it’s hard for me to narrow this blog down to a reasonable size.

NEW: Webweaver got me thinking that this blog really isn't complete without Santana's Soul Sacrifice -- so here it is:


Some of the other performers were:

Jefferson Airplane
Richie Havens
Ravi Shankar
Tim Hardin
Arlo Guthrie
Country Joe & The Fish
Joan Baez
John Sebastian
Janis Joplin
Creedance Clearwater Revival
Grateful Dead
Tim Hardin
Sly & The Family Stone
Blood, Sweat & Tears
Canned Heat
The Band
Paul Butterfield Blues Band

. . .Among others . . .

If I've whetted your appetite a bit - check out the film or pick up a CD and enjoy it for the first time -- or all over again. I’ll wrap up my Woodstock revisit with a dedication to the wonderful friends I’ve made through being a part of the Clay Aiken fandom . . . here’s a little Joe Cocker and his version of With A Little Help From My Friends.


And because this is a Clay Aiken blog and I can never get enough of watching him perform, I had to add a video of him. One of the great things about Woodstock was that there were so many different types of music represented: rock, folk, blues, pop. Clay can sing almost every genre. I think he could be his own Woodstock. Enjoy Clay and Quiana Parler singing Chain of Fools (courtesy of SLC).


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14 comments:

ivy said...

You bring back some great memories. Jimi Hendrix died a few days before a concert we were supposed to attend and we stil have the unused tickets. My husband is a fan of hard rock. I've only recently come to appreciate all those great concerts he took me to years ago. And it took Clay bringing me back to music to make me appreciate the quality of that music. Because I wanted to hear Clay on the radio, I started to listen to the radio again and was shocked at the dreck. Then on a long trip my husband played songs by older acts and you can tell the difference. We listened to the Rolling Stones, Velvet Underground, Dylan, Janis Joplin, Yes, Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, Frank Zappa, U2 and Clay. It was so much fun. Today he listens to an alternative rock station. I generally play CDs, mostly Clay.

The ConCLAYve-Nan said...

That's interesting Ivy. Clay brought us back to music as well. I mean we always played Cds in the car because of the drek on the radio . . . but because of Clay, my husband started playing guitar again. I started exploring some of the new alternative or indie groups and we revisited a bunch of stuff we hadn't heard in a really long time - like Pink Floyd. Thanks for reminding me of Yes. Time to listen to Starship Trooper. Isn't music wonderful?

GraphicsinMind-Ramy said...

What a great way to learn about Woodstock. I thoroughly enjoyed your video essay. Thanks so much. I always knew you were cool.

Pink Armchair said...

This was fantastic -- I had never seen some of these videos (to my shame). Woodstock was one of my dad's favorite movies and he was always urging me to sit down and watch it -- needless to say, I never got around to it. I think I will now. Great stuff, and thanks for the reminder!

webweaver said...

Oh my God! Woodstock! Oh yeah - one of my favourite movies ever, favourite (multiple) albums ever, with some of the greatest performances EVER....

I'm also rather partial to that incredible performance by Ten Years After. The speed of that guitar! But I think for me it's topped by Santana's UNBELIEVABLE rendition of "Soul Sacrifice". Holy sh*t!!!

Urban myth has it that the band had dropped acid a while before they were due to play, planning to be mellowing out by the time they went on stage - only their gig was brought forward and instead they were peaking... whatever the reason, that was one hell of a mind-meld moment that the world was privileged to watch.

My other ultimate favourite has to be Joe Cocker doing "With a Little Help from my Friends" Woah. That man can SANG! Love it. Love his crazy dancing too.

And then of course there's Janis... and Country Joe & the Fish, Arlo Guthrie, Jefferson Airplane.... and and and... the list goes on.

I am so incredibly envious of you for having actually been at Woodstock. Wow. I was only 7 so there was NO chance of being there. Plus of course I didn't even live in the US. Ah well. Thank goodness for DVDs, CDs, videos and vinyl eh?

Thanks for a great trip down memory lane. I must get out my Woodstock DVD again...

The ConCLAYve-Nan said...

You know, webweaver - every time I tried to figure out what clip I wanted to put on this blog - I realized that I really wanted to put almost every performance up (well - maybe not Sha Na Na *g*). Just like I need to do another blog - Part II of the British Invasion, I'm going to have to do Part II Woodstock and find Santana and Country Joe clips as well. Oh, and Arlo Guthrie - good grief that man was stoned and so funny. I wish I could say I was close enough to Woodstock to have actually seen these performers up-close, but I was one of those people Arlo was talking about stuck on the NY Thruway. We kept walking and got to particiipate in the "event" - but I have to watch the film to actually see the musicians! But it was an amazing time.

Vox Vixen said...

Wow, great blog. I loved watching all the Woodstock video. I was a little young when it took place, but I do remember it on the news reports that my father watched. What an event...great passion and great music.

pax said...

I was pretty young in 1969, so Woodstock was my first introduction to many of these bands. What an introduction! What a variety of sounds. I don't envy you having to choose just a few. Some of my favorites were Janis Joplin, Joan Baez, The Band, --oh heck, the whole 4 disc collection is priceless! When you are weaned on this type of music its no wonder radio these days seems so boring with their endless replaying of the same mindless, nihilistic pap. Thanks for the memories!

Oh, do you give knitting lessons? If you have to knit to be a CLay Aiken fan, I am willing to learn.

beauzzartz said...

Listening to you I get the music.
Gazing at you I get the heat.
Following you I climb the mountain.
I get excitement at your feet!


Oh wow! it has always been my secret desire for Clay to sing some of the Who's music. I was a big "Who" freak and one of the personal high points of my career was the opportunity to design The Who's Tommy. I love , love , LOVE the music. He's already got the bangs, all Clay needs is the white spandex suit. Talk about concept show! Watching that clip was a real treat!

The ConCLAYve-Nan said...

Wow beauzz I didn't know--that's fantastic! My mother, who was a very special wonderful lady, was so excited when Tommy was playing on Broadway and she and my father got tickets. She was so excited she kept saying "We're going to see Who's Tommy" Gah, I miss her. She was so coo. One year I asked her what she wanted for her birthday and she said the album from the Broadway show Hair!

Idle-wandering said...

I was "on my way" to Woodstock, but didn't get as far as you did. I had a summer theatre job, and my boss found out some of us were planning to go. We'd been to NY for the weekend just the week before. Well, my boss said she'd call my parents if we went, so that was the end of that for me. No way they would've let me go if they'd known.

I've seen that movie so many times. It's been a long time since the last time--I need to see it again.

I heard Santana talking in an interview about that performance--in this case the urban legend is correct.

Great blog!

ivy said...

Another very good movie is The Last Waltz. Another Clay fan brought it to my attentioin. My husband and I loved it. I ended up buying a copy for one of my sons too.

We saw Yes a couple of years ago in concert. It was a good concert.

Liz said...

I loved, loved, loved this blog. Thanks for the musical memories! I am definitely going to buy the Woodstock DVD, because altho' I have seen bits and pieces, I have never seen the whole concert. I would have loved to have been there, but I was at home with two little ones....missed the real thing by about half a decade.

But there was a lot of other music I did NOT miss "live"....no complaints here. It's nice to know amidst the ClayNation that I am not the only one who finds today's radio playlists largely full of drek. Right on, Claymates.

~ YSRN ~ said...

You know, I had to read this blog a few times to finally get through all the cool videos and stop daydreaming?! I adore Joe Cocker. I got to see him here in SF in the 80s and it's one of my favorite concerts ever. I was only 11 for Woodstock, but my sister was 17. She was my best friend and kept me in the know for her generation of music. I was raised on her rock and roll! Wee. I'm still working on my own concert blog. It takes forever. Well, it takes ME forever. Fun though! Thanks for the inspiration and for this awesome walk down musical memory lane. YouTube is a Godsend, is it not?