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Why Don’t We Care About Woodstock?

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This past weekend marked the 40th Anniversary of Woodstock. I'll admit that in initially not caring about this cultural milestone. Firstly, I have always abhorred the idea of suffering for music by being in muddy conditions surrounded by a few hundred thousand people who were all mostly high on illicit substances with questionable hygiene. Secondly, there was always something about Woodstock that always seemed to be not for me. Kind of like how the movie The Big Chill had all those Motown songs in them, yet there seemed to be a huge disconnect between the music I was hearing and images I was seeing. In any case, I have been well aware that Richie Havens, Santana, Sly & The Family Stone, and Jimi Hendrix were all present and ripped their collective sets. Despite all of this, Woodstock just never truly resonated with me and others I've talked to throughout the years? Why is that?

The simplest answer to this lies in the systematic removal of Black culture from Rock music since its inception. Despite Blacks' creation of it, Rock music simply became something that we could no longer identify with, especially when for most of our parents and their friends, R&B and any other music popular with mainstream Black culture--Jazz and the Soul of Motown and Stax--was "noticeably missing" from Woodstock asserts John Murph of The Root.

Despite the random peppering of Black faces in the largely homogenous crowd, Woodstock is still an event we should celebrate because it reasserted that, despite the prevailing attitude amongst most Blacks that Rock had been unwillingly and turned into something that was unrecognizable, Woodstock "succeeded in acknowledging how blacks and Latinos contributed to the cutting edges of rock, soul and folk at that time." And those of us who are in the know are well-aware that Rock music was really never kidnapped, but shared to create a vast canopy whose filaments are all separate, yet intertwined and ultimately intrinsically related.
If anything, what this past weekend may have marked is a time for all of us to take upon a renewed interest in what we may have been uncomfortable in acknowledging: that Rock music is just as relevant as any other music we may regularly play and that it is just as awesome and soul-stirring despite our collective avoidance of it. 
"Why We Don't Celebrate Woodstock" [TR]

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5 Responses

  1. Mainly because I think it was marketed as a white hippie event, there were only a couple of black acts counting Jimmie, Jimmie was probably the most beloved black person of all times for white people, he was Tiger woods before tiger woods:) Not to mention america was not ready to see thousands of black people having orgies in public and getting stoned, as long as the powers that were only saw their own kids getting wasted they were totally cool with it:)

  2. We largely have to hold ourselves responsible for lack of Blackness in rock music. Woodstock didn't happen during Jim Crow days therefore anyone informed about it was free to attend sans restrictions.
    What baffles me is that most Black folk only listen to Black artists to a point we forget that we created and helped shape rock. How often do we even hear rock tracks by Prince, Lenny Kravits or even MJ's more rock songs on Black radio? When's the last time we saw any Black artists doing rock on Black Television?
    There are numerous Black artists doing rock but they don't get play on Black media, nor are they covered in Black print media...making the youth believe all rock is all White.
    I'm still fascinated by Woodstock for what it achieved and for the many doors it opened. I'm excited about it more than people are about the perceived 40th anniversay of the moonlanding.

  3. Is it possible that we simply just DONT LIKE the music? I'm not much of a fan of rock, save for the occasional emo or punk band, so, naturally I'd have no interest in this cult phenom. It has nothing to do with race or who listens to what music, it's just that some of us don't prefer the type of music (or atmosphere, for that matter) presented at Woodstock. Now Bonnaroo..... that's a different story. For me at least. 🙂

  4. Ha, I agree with Stoney. They just werent ready.

  5. I just watch the Documentary on Woodstock, now I don't care for the atmosphere because I don't do drug or play in the mud but do love the music and I like learning about the history of that time. Sometime I prefer rock music over RnB because of the energy it give me.



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