There's been no shortage of bad news lately. From public shootings to trade wars to Jeffrey Epstein, the news has just been awful. And the more visual it gets, the worse it gets.
So, that's why we should all be thankful than when we turn on the news today, tomorrow, and the next day, here's what we won't see:
Thousands of sixtysomething ex-Hippies gathered to celebrate the golden anniversary of their youthful highpoints – Woodstock 50.
That's because the event was mercifully cancelled a week or so ago, relieving all of us of an abysmal attempt to recapture our youth and better times. Except they weren't.
Many have written about the fallacy of the Woodstock Generation in recent weeks. The fact that while there was always a percentage of kids in the 60s who were knee-deep in protest marches and music festivals, the vast majority of American Baby Boomers were no doubt wondering what the fuss was all about.
You can see this in the data today. The Classic Rock audience, as we know it today, now leans conservative and Republican. Whatever remnants of peace and love from the days of Abbie Hoffman, Gene McCarthy, Angela Davis, and Gloria Steinem have been pretty much extinguished. We saw evidence of this in Techsurvey 2018 when we asked the question about party affiliation before the midterm elections.
And that's why the slow death of Woodstock 50 may turn out to be a good thing. Because trying to recapture what happened on Yasgur's Farm this week in 1969 is like trying to reunite a band that has aged out, burned out, and faded away. (Actually the anniversary event was booked for Watkins Glen, not far away from the original locale, Bethel).
Most sequels fail to live up their originals, and when there's a half century gap between the original and the imitation, there's bound to be disappointment.
Even today artists like Jay Z and Imagine Dragons couldn't save Woodstock 50, an idea who's time never came. Original co-organizer Michael Lang was behind the effort to resurrect this amazing festival. As he noted when the event was cancelled barely two weeks before it's kick-off:
“We just ran out of time.”
If it were only that simple. Yes, there were endless issues with lawyers, investors, permits, safety, and of course, money. Things are a little more complicated in the 21st century.
But Woodstock 50 really failed because it was an event that was no longer relevant to today. Lang had hoped to draw a parallel between frustrated kids in the 60s to alienated, jaded young people of today.
It may be possible to clone a few bands from those crazy, halcyon FM rock days. But it's not possible to replicate the vibe, the feelings, and the emotions of 1969.
As rugged as the news cycle may be the rest of this week, at least we won't have those awkward, tone deaf stories from Watkins Glen broadcast on all those cable news channels, not to mention the tabloid entertainment shows. Or the sponsors whose logo would only serve to commercialize this badly conceived reprise of something that truly cannot be replicated.
And it also should dawn on all of us that even a reasonably successful Woodstock 50 festival could not possible replace or replicate the energy, the excitement, and the ecstasy of the original. For proof, consider some of the amazing memories of Woodstock people are sharing this week. Like this one from former NPR executive and now producer on CBS News' amazing “Sunday Morning” show, Jay Kernis.
For an amazing, life-changing event like Woodstock, perhaps the best way to celebrate is through the stories of people were there – like Jay's.
So, if you need to stand near the fumes of the original Woodstock this weekend, any number of TV networks will be taking looks in the rear-view mirror, when thousands of hippies jammed out to the Dead, Jimi, and Ravi in the spirit of peace and love.
But there is a way to respectfully celebrate the past – without taking it all so damn seriously.
It happened on that famous street in London – Abbey Road – the site of where the Beatles' famous album cover was photographed yes, 50 years ago this week.
And while it didn't attract Woodstock-sized crowds or profits, the celebration of this commemorative rock n' roll event also a half century ago was pleasantly jammed, good fun, and truly participatory. In modern parlance, it was a crowd-source nostalgia event that was very satisfying.
Abbey Road Studios chronicled the celebration in a light-hearted spirit that took the whole thing with the same ironic Liverpudlian way the Beatles would have been proud of.
Amid the crowds and celebrations for the 50th anniversary of @TheBeatles‘ iconic photoshoot, fans stepped into the Abbey Road car park to have the opportunity to take their photo with the original 1969 image.
— Abbey Road Studios (@AbbeyRoad) August 14, 2019
At its core, when it's at it's best, rock n' roll is fun.
Here were two events – both celebrating milestone anniversaries at nearly the exact same time – with a very different point of view.
I'll visit Abbey Road anytime.
P.S. A half century ago, I stood in line to buy a copy of the new Beatles album, “Abbey Road.” Now a remix, remastered by Giles Martin (son of Beatles' producer George Martin) will be released on September 27th, the 50th anniversary of the original's debut. As Martin noted, “You don't wwant your kids to listen to the Beatles' records and go, ‘God, this sounds old.'” Details here.
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