Sunday, August 16, 2009

Woodstock Redux?

I didn’t go to Woodstock. I was just heading into my senior year of high school, and I was working for the summer. I loved the music; I was into all the bands of that era. But the possibility of attending Woodstock was not something I could have even dreamed of arranging. I bought the Woodstock albums and listened to them repeatedly. It was a wild and wooly time in our history.

But I’ve learned that you just can’t go back. I know so many people who spend enormous amounts of their personal time and energy living and dwelling in the past. And I have to ask, “Why? What is it that you hope to find there?” To those who look back on those high school and college days as the best times of their lives, I say “Don’t you think it’s time to get a life?” I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to look back when I’m 85 and think high school days were the best of my life…because that would mean the 65+ years in between were a worthless waste of time!

I have to admit, the music was pretty good back then, though! My son surprised us in ’94 or ’95 by getting us tickets to the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young 25th anniversary tour. We hadn’t been to a rock concert in years. I was appalled to find out that the tickets were $75 a pop and they were nose-bleed seats! We drove downtown, paid the event parking and got ourselves into the arena.

We looked around in wonder as we headed toward the roof, passing row, upon row, upon row of white-haired, paunchy, middle-aged couples with 30-year old tie-dyed tees and ripped up bell-bottom jeans they had dragged out of mothballs and stretched over their mid-life middles. They had their white hair pulled long and straight, with colored, metal-rimmed John Lennon glasses, beaded headbands and peace signs drawn on any exposed skin.

We found our seats and settled in for the ride. I turned to Jim and said, “Oh my God, these are our peers!”

The music started up and it was great. David Crosby came on stage at one point, solo. He sat, fat and white-haired, and belted out “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” in a voice every bit as clear as 20 years earlier. An obviously high-as-a-kite guy a few rows ahead kept standing up and playing air guitar to the chagrin of the people behind him. Two couples in the row ahead of us were passing a joint back and forth and laughing the whole time.

But what I noticed that really got to me, was the rocking. I looked around and there were people all around me rocking in their seats. By rocking I don’t mean bouncing and moving around, I mean forward and back, forward and back, like a rocking chair. It was like being surrounded by 20,000 people with the movements of adult autism because NONE of them were actually rocking in time with the beat of the music! It was incredibly bizarre.

When the concert was over, we agreed that the entertainment was a lot more than just the band! Even so, I had a hard time understanding why so many of those people felt it necessary to revert to the dress and actions of wild teenagers in order to enjoy the music.

I’ve been to plenty of rock concerts in my day, everything from a 12-hour stint at the old Cleveland Stadium for the World Series of Rock, to Alice Cooper, to Jethro Tull and more. I still listen to the music, and appreciate the incredible talent behind those acts, but I have no desire to go back to the youth I was when I attended those things.

In retrospect, I didn’t have the maturity or the sobriety to really appreciate what I was hearing back then. If I’ve learned anything in my life, not making the same mistakes twice ranks pretty close to the top, right next to you can’t go back!