The legendary Woodstock Music & Arts Festival, one of the defining moments of the late 1960s and music history, took place 47 years ago on Monday. In honor of the amazing gathering, we here at Baeble uncovered a very special and totally real collection of notes and tapes from a reporter who covered the festival! We are so excited to share this 100% true and not fictionalized transcription from a real reporter who was actually there, plus a few Editor's Notes to fill in any gaps in the narrative. Enjoy!
DAY 1: Friday, August 15, 1969
12:46pm: I am currently on my way to the Woodstock Music & Arts Festival in Bethel, about 30 minutes away from where I am...at least by car. But it looks like I'll have to walk from here. People are quite literally leaving their cars where they are and walking to the festival. I have truly never seen anything like this, especially for a rock concert. The whole Thruway has essentially become a parking lot. Well...I suppose that means I don't have much of a choice. The higher-ups didn't realize this event was a significant event until it was too late, so hopefully I can make it in time to get a ticket.
3:15pm: Well...no need for a ticket I suppose, because people just walked onto the festival grounds without any sort of order. I can't imagine how they would collect tickets at this rate anyway, because the amount of young people here is truly remarkable. After walking along the Thruway, I've finally made it, and the music was apparently supposed to have started by now, but there is very little activity on the stage. At the moment, it's hard to say if there will be any music at all, and if all these people will even be able to hear it.
Reporter: So, sir, can you describe what you're wearing for the audience?
Unnamed Male Festivalgoer: Well, (contemplative pause) I guess I'm wearing the essence of my being, man.
R: Alright, that's fine...but you're also naked, is that correct?
UMF: Oh, (examines himself) I guess that's true. That's very true man (laughs).
R: Why are you naked?
UMF: Why aren't you?
R: Uh...Im sorry, what?
UMF: Were all naked at the end of the day, man. You just gotta...just gotta embrace it. Like, it's easy, it's so easy to just hide behind your suits and ties and golden things, but like, were all human, we all were birthed from...from Mother Natures womb, so just feel it man. Just gotta feel it.
R: Right...so you feel completely comfortable out here without any clothes on?
UMF: Oh yeah, yeah man. This...this is just me. This is the real me. Nothing more, nothing less...and it's a real groovy time, you know?
R: You more question: Are you high right now?
UMF: Always and forever, brother (laughs).
NA: Great. Thanks so much, enjoy the show.
UMF: Yeah man, peace. (Festivalgoer leaves)
Well, I'll tell ya...Im currently in a white shirt and tie, and I've packed only button-downs and khakis for this weekend, and I've never felt so out of place in my life.
7:02pm: A uh, quick update on what has happened up to now: The first performer of the evening was blues & soul artist, Richie Havens, even though if I remember correctly he was scheduled to go on much later. It seems that some of the performers may be having trouble reaching the festival. Havens kept coming back to the stage and played several encores, which totaled up to be about a three-hour performance by the singer. I'm frankly surprised he had enough material. As far as I could tell, none of his songs were improvised (1). A solid, albeit delayed, start to this weekend's festivities.
(1. EDITORS NOTE: Havens' last song, "Freedom," was improvised.)
2:00am (Saturday): It is two in the morning, and somehow the first day's music is only ending now. It has been raining on and off, the majority of the field has been reduced to mud, and I'm trying to find a somewhat dry space to settle in and set up camp for the night, but uh, I don't think that's going to happen. Arlo Guthrie, son of course of the folk-singer Woody Guthrie, claimed that the New York State Thruway has been shut down, but at the moment, I have no way to confirm this, though I wouldn't be surprised (2).
(2. While there was heavy traffic, the Thruway never actually closed. However, police did block off the Newburgh and Harriman exits just to prevent more people from trying to drive to the festival.)
DAY 2: Saturday, August 16, 1969
1:40pm: Country Joe McDonald, leader of the band The Fish, just finished performing a solo set. A particular highlight was before his song denouncing the Vietnam War, "I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-to-Die Rag," Joe led the audience, which by the must be close to half a million people, in a cheer of a word that wouldn't make it to publication, that's for sure (3).
(3. The word was "fuck.")
3:06pm: A somewhat unknown artist just finished a performance...Santana I believe was the name. The group had a very Latin sound to their music, very different than what's been heard at the fesitval so far. The group really connected with the audience, so if they didn't have fans at the festival before, they might now.
4:23pm: It was just announced from the stage for concertgoers to avoid "brown acid" that's been going around, although the announcer did also say, and I quote, "It's your own trip, so be my guest," so it's hard to really gauge the level of severity from that announcement alone. I will...hey, wait...Oh!
Unidentified Voice: EVERYONE LISTEN! ATTENTION PLEASE! I know things. I know all the answers to every question that ever lived on every persons tongue. I am a VESSEL OF KNOWLEDGE with powers granted by Vishnu to SAVE THE WORLD from the SPIDER EGGS. All we have to do is-
NA: (flustered) Sorry about that, someone ran up and snatched my recorder. Well...I guess I know what a "bad trip" looks like now.
Around 4:30am (Sunday): I've only managed to sneak off into a quiet enough space to record now, so here's a quick recap going by my notes: The Grateful Dead played a rather underwhelming show, cutting their set short after their amps overloaded (granted, this being the Dead, the set was still about five songs in two hours). Creedence Clearwater Revival came on around 1am, and singer John Fogerty was visibly annoyed at the majority of people who were asleep on the hill. Janis Joplin was next, and she of course sang amazingly, but her new band is still working out some growing pains, as they weren't nearly as fluent as Joplin's previous band, Big Brother & the Holding Company. The biggest highlight of the night was Sly and the Family Stone, who just finished their set. They got most of the crowd awake and dancing thanks to their...Well it's either soul or rock music, I'm not quite sure what to call it (4).
(4. It's called funk, but the genre wouldn't be officially coined until the 1970s.)
DAY 3: Sunday, August 17, 1969
9:58am: I slept maybe 20 minutes last night, because while I thought Sly and the Family Stone was it for day 2, the acts continued all the way through the night until now. The Who had a rather tense moment during their set when Liberal activist Abbie Hoffman stormed the stage and said, "I think this is a pile of shit while John Sinclair (5) rots in prison!" Pete Townshend then yelled "Get the fuck off my stage!" and smacked Hoffman with the neck of his guitar. The band played until 6:00am, and then Jefferson Airplane greeted a good morning to the waking audience, and they just finished their set. It should be a full day of music to close things out, assuming the rain doesn't come down.
(5. John Sinclair was a writer and activist who was sentenced to 10-years in prison for possession of marijuana that year. He was freed in December 1971.)
3:30pm: Joe Cocker just closed out his set with a truly amazing rendition of the Beatles song, "With A Little Help From My Friends." And...well, even with everything I've seen this weekend, I'm at a loss for words. That was simply beautiful. I'm looking forward to seeing how the rest of the acts will follow up that performance.
4:01pm: Well, I spoke too soon about the upcoming performances, because rain has delayed everything for who knows how long, and has no sign of stopping at the moment. People are not bothered by the rain and mud at all, with many chanting, I believe, "No rain" in an attempt to make the rain stop, while others are actually sliding around and playing in the mud. It's quite a sight, honestly, to see such optimism despite the less-than-ideal circumstances. I...I think it's a lesson we can all learn from, especially with everything that's happening in our country and in the world right now.
Reporter: Can you tell me you name, miss?
Female Festivalgoer: My friends call me Night Poppy
R: That works. So Night Poppy, what is you job here at the festival?
NP: Well, I'm apart of the Hog Farm(6), we're a commune who's helping out with food and security. I'm apart of the security team.
NA: Right, and what did you say the name was again?
NP: The Please Force.
NA: Oh yeah, that was it! So have you had to deal with any violent situations?
NP: No man, not all, not one bit. Like, everyone's here for the same reason, which is to have a good time, listen to some music, and just be free. So no, no one has been out of line or anything. You know, there's the couple of cats who drop too much acid or speed or whatever, but they mean no harm. No one means any harm here, and that's what makes it so beautiful.
NA: That's great to hear. Well I'll let you get back to work then, thanks for speaking with me.
NP: Of course, man. Enjoy the show!
(6. The Hog Farm was the hippie commune led by activist Wavy Gravy. They helped provide free food for festivalgoers, and are often credited with inventing granola at Woodstock.)
3:30am (Monday): There has been truly so much great music today, and right now the new folk super-group going by the name Crosby, Stills, & Nash are performing, but I don't think I can stay unfortunately. I'm expected to be at work in a few hours, and my car is still somewhere out on the Thruway, so as much as I hate to say it, I think I have to go. This has been a truly incredible weekend, and I have met some amazing young people and watched some of the best live performances unfold. I hope I wont miss anything else noteworthy once I leave, but even if I do, I'm just so very glad to have had this experience (7).
(7. The reporter did miss a noteworthy performance, but to be fair, so did the majority of people: On Monday, August 18 at 9:00am, with less than 200,000 of the original 400,000 plus people still in attendance, Jimi Hendrix closed Woodstock with arguably the seminal performance of the festival. And the rest, as we say, is rock n roll history.)
[DISCLAIMER: None of this is true.]