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