Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Dismal old Woodstock

Growing old can be a surprising and dismaying affair at times. Like this evening, when I thought I might sit in, for fun and old times, on the TV transmission of the Woodstock film. Those of you who are a little older than my son [born in Woodstock year, 1969] might recall that it was a gigantic music festival in the state of New York, back in the days when the target of the USA's regular wars happened to be Vietnam.

After twenty minutes, the video bored me to shit, and indeed irritated me immensely. It sounded as hollow, today, as an empty packet of Pretzels at the Bush ranch in Texas. The truth of the matter is that nobody, any longer, is inclined to believe young Americans when they cry out about peace and love to the strains of Joan Baez. They've had high time, since Vietnam, to become dynamically intelligent... and they didn't make the necessary effort. I don't know why, and I don't really care. But please don't ever talk to me about "peace and love" bullshit made in the USA.


  1. I can perfectly understand your feelings about this "peace and love" bullshit made in the USA.

    But I think Woodstock has different symbolic meanings.

    In 1969 I was only 6 and lived in Roumania...

    I was a teenager (living in Germany) when I heard of this concert for the first time. For me, it is related to some kind of "teenager rebellion".

    I have difficulties to listen to Joan Baez today, but I still enjoy listening to Hendrix, Janis Joplin, etc.

    Sometimes, I get very angry when young people tell me that they don't know anything about these artists. I think Woodstock is part of history and it should be taught in school.

    I'm afraid rap music has not the same effect on me - but may be I'm just getting older and don't understand any more the "rebellion" this music is supposed to convey.

  2. I agree entirely with the idea that Woodstock and the music of that epoch were a powerful symbol of the great surge of youth that got under way in the '60s. I myself was sensitive to that surge. The modest repertoire of stuff I used to sing at Le petit Gavroche in the Rue Sainte-Croix-de-la-Bretonnerie in Paris, accompanying myself on the guitar, included many Joan Baez songs. For a long while, I believed naively that, if everybody were to devote their energy to making music and love, then universal peace would become an enduring reality.

    These days, I'm saddened to discover that once-cherished films such as West Side Story and Hair simply bore me. On the other hand, the significance of Bob Dylan's songs has survived intact for me. As early as around 1972, when I was a fan of Cat Stevens, I started realizing that many kids were listening to a new kind of so-called "pop" music that didn't impress at all. Since then, the gap between what I prefer and what most young people like listening to has been widening constantly.

    I know it's rather hollow (and maybe misleading, if not false) to suggest that the children of Woodstock have elected George W Bush and allowed him to invade Iraq. But I've lost all my old illusions about the power and beauty of youth. My new illusion consists of believing in the wisdom of age.

  3. "I know it's rather hollow (and maybe misleading, if not false) to suggest that the children of Woodstock have elected George W Bush and allowed him to invade Iraq."

    Sometimes people change in a quite surprising way. Daniel Cohn-Bendit is slightly different from "Danny, le rouge".