Woodstock rock schlock

By KEN EMERSON  |  July 23, 2009

Saturday morning at seven, rain still sputtering down and the radio forecasting more of the soggy same through Sunday, we started the bed-raggled trudge back to our car. We didn't get home until six that evening, and for every one of us who staggered away, five more piled into the wallow.

You've read the papers. They were right when they called the weekend a social success, for 450,000 people in the most wretched if circumstances proved that they were human beings. The local citizenry, deprived of gasoline, food, and peace, were wonderful, as were most of the cops. Even the promoters, already hounded out of two towns and desperately working against the clock to stage the festival at White Lake, did the best they could. The vibrations or what have you were beautiful. But there must be a better way? Why not several mammoth parking lots, far away from the scene, with buses running to and fro? This goes for Newport, too. And some sort of assigned seating – pardon the elitism – and limitations of the numbers of people. A festival simply cannot work with such vast hordes. But even then, are fiascos such as Denver, Newport, and Woodstock worth it? Will the magic of Monterey ever be recaptured? It appears doubtful, though this article is being written prior to San Francisco's Wild West thing. Festivals feature too many musicians playing sets that are too short before crowds that are too many. Communication, and what is more important, communion, are impossible. And communion is what our music claims to be about.

Sheila also contributed to this article.

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