Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Woodstock's 40th

I was a lad when it happened, and the political and social implications of it went way over my head. I just liked the music that was wafting over the airwaves back in the day. Woodstock, held between August 15 and 19, 1969, was a watershed event, a pinnacle of the revolutionary fervor that was sweeping across the youth culture of this nation. The reverberations of that fervor are still being felt today.

Aside from the music, free love was at the heart of that event, and today, free love has been translated into the destruction of marriage. Like Jerusalem in the days of Jeremiah, marriage has been abandoned and left weeping, her face wet with tears. Marriage is in ruins, and the result of that is misery for millions.

Strangely, the music of Woodstock did not really portend or bespeak much of that at all. Take a look at the schedule: much of the music was rather tame by current standards. Frankly, it was just good music, but perhaps since it was so different from the pops and big bands of the parents in 1969, it became a token of the rebellion against all things traditional.

It's all rather odd, since forty years prior to that, music had already been shifting rather radically. Jazz and soul music was first seen as rebellious (certainly by the people who attended the southern Baptist churches whose style it borrowed); much of the music to which people danced new dances in the 1920s was seen as rebellious by the parents in the 1920s.

So in a sense we may mark the onset of another new generation this summer, but it doesn't seem to be so rebellious to me. Things have changed. Perhaps (hopefully) a more pensive culture is wondering if maybe their parents got it wrong.

As an aside, there is a bit of a rebellion going on right now, but in a way it's against the rebellious, and only time will tell its course. The rebellion, on parade in town halls across the country, is against the sweeping, wholesale kind of "reform" the government seems to be foisting upon the people. Elderly people, interestingly, are a centerpiece of it. Whether that's a true groundswell or not remains to be seen.

In terms of music, there are some fascinating differences between 2009 and 1969. The youth of today still listen to the music of their 60's parents, and often find it preferable to their own. I could be wrong, but it seems to me that rap is out, and rock is back in. Certainly there is a resurgence of the jazz band (I'm in one, in fact), playing the big band music of two generations ago. Not sure if this means anything significant, but I hope so. I hope it means the rebellion has run its course; I hope the gender-mocking, sex-celebrating, cross-dressing, marriage-mangling culture is beginning to be pushed to the fringe; I hope that millions of our children will not suffer from the lack of fathers and families from which so many of our day now suffer.

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