Most people like movies, but I’m not much of a fan. I certainly do not watch enough movies to merit my own Netflix account. But my roommate has one, and for a long time I’ve asked him to order the Woodstock movie, the original with the concert footage. About two weeks ago he got it delivered. Somehow he did not want to watch it with me. This is the same dude that can watch 4 movies in a row on a day off. Anyway one day I watched it alone thinking memories of my first viewing of Woodstock with my parents when I was fifteen would flood back to me for nostalgia bliss. That did not happen, but I might as well blog about this Woodstock and my dad’s record collection while the current viewing is still fresh.
When we moved to Toledo in 1992 my dad made one room an entertainment room and got a big television setup. They still have the same equipment today. Among these purchases my dad got Woodstock on Laserdisc, which was double sided, the size of a record, and obsolete in about a year. It was a summer night and we watched the concert movie together.
What struck me then and I noticed on my current viewing was the quality of the music. Toward the end Santana’s Soul Sacrifice might be the best music performance ever. The drum beat is trance like, and I could only imagine what that was like watching live. My dad’s favorite was Sly and the Family Stone’s Take You Higher. On this current viewing I realized those two are one after the next right before the whole thing culminates with Jimi Hendrix.
What I remember about watching this with my dad is that he talked to us throughout the movie. During music you don’t really need to follow the dialogue so people could have conversations during this movie. My parents met in Vietnam which I always found fascinating but they don’t talk about it that much. During Woodstock I remember my dad saying of being very busy as a medical resident, then going to Vietnam, and then when he came back to the states catching up on all of this music. His record collection shows that he was a fan of music. He also said that he saw Woodstock in the theaters. When The Who played he asked the person in front of him who was playing, and the person said ‘The Who.’ And my dad said Who? And so on. I guess I always found Woodstock interesting because I imagine my dad coming back to the States and hearing all of this music for a first time. From talking to people of that generation, the concert made an impact on a huge amount of people.
I lived at home until I was about 25 or so, and I played my dad’s records frequently. My favorites of his are Bitches Brew by Miles Daves and Déjà vu by Crosby Stills Nash and Young. Of course I developed my own musical tastes ranging from 80’s music, Brit Pop, Alternative, and hip hop. So like my dad I became a big fan of music, I can’t play or sing it, but I like listening to it.
Watching the Woodstock movie now as an adult I realized that there can not be anything that matches what that was. I’ve had rambling conversations about this topic with my roommate so I hope I’m not plagiarizing his part in those discussions. I think a major factor was the technology improvement compared to 1959 to 1969. In 1959 they probably could not have amplified sound over such a large space. The electric guitar and other improvements were enhanced greatly. So I think that helped the music explode in a way, because I think strides in everything come in bursts. Secondly, I think the whole generation was concerned with the war, free love, and a new way of living. I think everyone under 30 in 1969 had a connection with each other.
Today it seems like technology improvements are just like updates. Things are simply improvements of technology that already exists. With music there are about 20 different genres. Everything is recorded so the music consumer has a plethora of choices. For people under thirty some only listen to pop, some only listen to hip hop, or emo, or country. Music technology has improved almost to the point where the variety is a disability in that no music could connect to a whole generation. Also making statements with music seems irrelevant now, it’s all about being catchy and nothing about the meaning. I don’t blame the current generation. The dissecting and diluting of music is a product of the 1980’s. I think good things can come out of music, but nothing cohesive to try to change the world.