My Weekend At Woodstock

Woodstock, 1969

This is not a political post, but kind of it is.  If nothing else, bravo public radio!

Over the weekend by pure happenstance I found out about a public radio station in Philadelphia exclusively broadcasting the entire Woodstock music festival, as it happened in August of 1969, 50 years ago this past weekend.  Dubbed Woodstock – As It Happened – 50 Years On the broadcast was a “full authentic musical account including all the performances, set breaks, and stage announcements.”

Public radio station WXPN from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, broadcast and live streamed the “completely uncut audio of the original Woodstock from start to finish at the exact time it actually occurred. The broadcast featured every set break and stage announcement. Yes, even the brown acid warning.  [And Grace Slick recommending the orange.]  The end result was a full presentation completely synced with the timing of the original Woodstock.”

At our house, we were glued to the broadcast via livestream over our cell phones or laptop all weekend. It was an amazing event I will be forever grateful I did not miss.

Much of the music was previously unreleased, such as the Creedence Clearwater Revival set. You may remember that John Fogerty refused to release CCR’s set for the Woodstock movie so  it had been unavailable up until this broadcast. We stayed up for it. And was it ever incredible.

Even though Fogerty apparently was critical of their own performance, listening to it live from Woodstock 50 years later, not a single person on social media could understand why, because the energy of the music, performed raw in its natural habitat, was absolutely stunning. The entire Creedence set from Woodstock is now available to order from Amazon. Highly recommend..

It really was like you were there. Between acts you could hear the audience and people on the stage talking, emergency messages being read, patient, polite requests from Chip Monck for people to please come down from the towers. You were there when the rainstorm came, the only time Monck had any tension in his voice, as he pleaded with the crowd to avoid the power lines, cover up, etc. as best they could.  “We’ll get through it together.”   One person commented on social media about the calming effect of Monck’s voice as he relayed emergency information from the stage all weekend long:  “I was at Woodstock. I was sixteen years old but I was never afraid.”

Adding to the reality of the experience, you had to stay up all night to hear some of the best acts as the broadcast stuck to real time. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young played at 2:00 in the morning. The Who took the stage at around 5:00 am. Janis Joplin 2 am, Sly and the Family Stone 3:30, Joan Baez, 1:00 am. I hadn’t realized that the original concert went on throughout the overnight hours. I have to admit we didn’t make it up all night any of the nights. But according to social media, lots of people did and set their alarms. Just like back in the day when there was real radio, you had to hear your favorite songs when they were played on the air. You couldn’t just download it or play it on YouTube any time you liked.

There were breaks in the broadcast and WXPN used this time to play songs from 1969 so you never had to be jolted back and forth between being at Woodstock and being in our current Trump-opia reality.

You didn’t have to be young in 1969 to appreciate this historical musical event but no doubt it helped. It was an amazing experience, a wonderful trip back in time when the music was the most important thing. When it was over you felt sad to look around and find yourself back in 2019..

If you missed this inspired radio broadcast, that is indeed a bummer but you can get a feel for it by going to your Twitter account and put #WXPNstock into the search box to get the entire 3-day stream of comments, pictures, video, reactions, love, etc. from blown-away listeners around the world. Hopefully, WXPN will do it again before another 50 years pass.

The weekend culminated in Jimi Hendrix taking the stage at 9:00 Sunday morning for his 2 hour long set. When he was done playing, Chip Monck came out and in his calm, zen-like voice that had kept things going throughout the 3-day festival, simply said to around 30,000 to 80,000 estimated to still be left standing, “Good wishes, good day, and a good life.”

After that, the sounds of packing it up and tearing it down. But #WXPNstock is still trending on Twitter as of this morning.

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