Tuesday, July 07, 2009


Woodstock defined something special for me – integration. It was a special time in music, and celebrated lavishly. Beautiful young multi-cultural bands like Sweetwater and Santana were playing alongside Jimi Hendrix and Sly and the Family Stone. The best part of those days is we didn’t even have terms like multi-cultural. There were simply great musicians who got together to play music based on the integrity of their ability, not the color of their skin. Don’t get me wrong, this was happening before Woodstock, but it was hidden from view. What Woodstock did, as an enterprise, was to put it in people’s faces – big time – big screen. That did several things – for some of us, it caused celebration. But for society in general it caused many changes. Music, especially radio stations, went back to racially stereotyped music. In 1969 you could hear Otis Redding, Frank Sinatra, Tiny Tim, Sly And The Family Stone, Desmond Dekkar, The Doors, Glen Campbell and Marvin Gaye all played in the same hour on the same station. The only place you can hear such variety today is on the “oldies” stations. In some respects it was because of the visuals presented in Woodstock – the people who ran the media did not ever want that repeated. So far they’ve gotten their wish, but it’s my hope that Sony making a big deal out of this 40th anniversary will start some young people to thinking and asking questions. And hopefully some of the old people – Sony is just as much to blame as everyone else – will start remembering that total, complete spiritual and physical integration of the arts and society is still an ethical possibility that we could strive for as an intellectual reality. Woodstock.com