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Woodstock – Challenge #178

‘Woodstock’ was written by Joni Mitchell who was scheduled to appear at the festival, however she didn’t attend the concert due to scheduling conflicts.  Her boyfriend at the time was Graham Nash and he performed there and reached the upstate New York festival arriving at Woodstock with Nash and Stills by helicopter.  Neil Young had a difficult time trying to get there to play, as he was on a charter plane that flew into the wrong airport.  He was with Jimi Hendrix and attorney Melvin Belli and they were supposed to be picked by a helicopter, but the roads were jammed and there was nobody at the airport.  Neil hot-wired a stolen pickup truck to get to the Woodstock concert.  Label head David Geffen picked up the New York Times at the airport, which read “400,000 People Sitting In Mud”, so he said to Joni, “Let’s not go!”  Mitchell watched, listened, and used her imagination to conjure up a scene of what the Woodstock concert looked like, that she only knew of from secondhand information.

Joni Mitchell was scheduled to appear on the Dick Cavett show the next day and Geffen knew that she couldn’t miss this opportunity.  Since filming for the late-night show occurred on Monday afternoon and they were put off by the mud and traffic, Geffen made the decision that they would stay in New York City while CSNY go on to play their second ever show at the festival.  Mitchell is heartbroken and writes the song ‘Woodstock’ in Geffen’s apartment.  The song was later released on her 1970 Ladies of the Canyon album as well as on CSNY’s 1970 De Ja Vu album.

David Geffen was moving up fast in the music industry, as in 1968 he was working as a mail room clerk and an agent at the William Morris Agency and then he became a talent agent for Ashley Famous Agency.  By 1969, he turned 26 and became the executive vice president and talent agent for Creative Management Associates.  Geffen was bringing Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and Joni Mitchell to Woodstock, but when he arrived at La Guardia Airport and heard about the horrendous traffic congestion and the bad weather the concert might have, he knew that he wasn’t going to Woodstock.  Joni went back with him to his apartment at Central Park South, and they watched it on television,

Cavett’s show ran opposite Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show in those days, and he had a following among the young and literati of that day.  Cavett gave us some of the biggest entertainment acts in the history of rock, going toe to toe with the King of Late Night Johnny Carson fighting for late night supremacy with his 90 minute mixture of talk and variety that ran for six astounding years.  For his late-night show following the Woodstock gathering, Cavett had lined up a number of guests who were scheduled to appear at the festival and would come to the city for a Monday afternoon taping of the late-night broadcast.  Some of the music artists that performed at Woodstock were able to make it back in time for the Monday afternoon taping including David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Grace Slick, and the Jefferson Airplane.  

The song ‘Woodstock’ become an anthem of sorts for her generation, defining one of the era’s key events.  Mitchell was still fairly new on the scene in the summer of 1969.  The Woodstock festival may have not been the best concert ever, because of poor planning and the promoters had no idea that it would ever get that big and the weather did not cooperate, but the images evoked by the song remain.  Her 1968 debut album, Songs to a Seagull (a.k.a. Joni Mitchell), had earned her a small audience, but not enough of one to lift it above #189 on the Billboard album chart.  In the spring of ‘69, she released Clouds, which brought her greater attention, largely thanks to Judy Collins’ top 10 cover of ‘Both Sides Now’, one of its signature songs, and Collins’ follow up, a cover of Mitchell’s ‘Chelsea Morning’.  This song became a big hit for Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young peaking at #11 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.

The lyrics in this tune make Woodstock sound like a dreamy utopia filled with golden stardust, where everything was centered on peace, love and understanding.  It is a song about a conversation between a young traveler who meets a child of God and asks him where he is headed.  The 25-year-old Canadian poet/singer was able to capture the feeling and importance of the Woodstock festival as she walks with this guy to get to the concert.  Joni viewed Woodstock as being some type of modern-day miracle, because a large group of people were all able to cooperate with each other and this filled her with optimism about the future, so she refers to it as the garden.  The opening lyrics are a reference to the book of Matthew which says, “Blessed are those who try to make peace for they will be called children of God.”  Joni mentions a dream where she “saw the bombers, riding shotgun in the sky, and they were turning into butterflies”, thus turning war into peace.  In 1969, America was clearly divided with hippies protesting soldiers, the peaceniks were against Nixon’s patriots, the doves were against the hawks and Joni saw the “Billion-year-old carbon” aka planet Earth as being “Caught in the devil’s bargain”.

I came upon a child of God
He was walking along the road
And I asked him, “Where are you going?”
And this he told me

“I’m going on down to Yasgur’s farm
I’m gonna join in a rock ‘n’ roll band
I’m gonna camp out on the land
I’m gonna try an’ get my soul free”

We are stardust
We are golden
And we’ve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden

“Then can I walk beside you?
I have come here to lose the smog
And I feel to be a cog in something turning”

“Well, maybe it is just the time of year
Or maybe it’s the time of man
I don’t know who l am
But you know, life is for learning”

We are stardust
We are golden
And we’ve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden

By the time we got to Woodstock
We were half a million strong
And everywhere there was song and celebration

And I dreamed I saw the bombers
Riding shotgun in the sky
And they were turning into butterflies
Above our nation

We are stardust
Billion year old carbon
We are golden
Caught in the devil’s bargain
And we’ve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden

The challenge today is to focus on this song and use it for a short story, a piece of flash fiction, or a poem that you can share with the WordPress writing community.  There is no need to stick with this song, as if you like to write about another Joni Mitchell song, or a Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young song, or a song by any of the other performers that were at Woodstock, then go with that.  You could also go with a song that is about peace and love.  Maybe you could write a post about your favorite concert, and if you did go to Woodstock that would be awesome.  If you would like to write about being at a concert where people got soaked in the rain, and some people took their clothes off and jumped in the mud, or a concert where there were a lot of drugs around, I think that would make a nice story.  The whole point of this MM Music challenge is to get you to think, to trigger something so that you can show how creative you are and everyone is welcome to participate.  This challenge is very loose, so pretty much whatever you come up with will be acceptable.  I try to throw some ideas out there for you and if they seem right, then go with it.  You could write about butterflies, a celebration, or you could even write about your garden.  

Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie brings you a dose of fetish, good friends and an incomparable muse and next Friday Dylan Hughes will be here on March 26 with her First Line Friday and she will provide the first line for your post and then you get to write whatever comes afterward, with the length, genre, and structure being completely left up to you.  Dylan’s opening line of a story is supposed to get your creative juices flowing, by sparking your inspiration to compose the rest of it, so make sure to check back next Friday for all the fun.  I will be back on Friday, April 2 with another MM Music Challenge where we will discuss the song ‘Keep Searching (We’ll Follow The Sun)’.  When you are finished writing your post, create a ping back to this post, but you can also place your link in the comments section below if you desire.  This Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie Music challenge has a special feature called Mr. Linky, which will allow you to instantly link your post after you click the Mr. Linky Button, and permit everyone to read your post sooner that way, and then follow the directions that are given. When you click the Mister Linky widget, another screen will pop up that will look like this screenshot below, with two empty boxes, one for your name and the other containing the web address where your post can be found, both ready for you to fill in.  You must check the box below, for your post to go through.

About newepicauthor

My About Me section is meant to provide my readers with an honest picture of myself that gives a little bit of background information on who I am and I will wrap this up with a catchy image. I am a story teller and I like to use my imagination. I am interested in many things, but a few of my favorites are watching the NFL and playing golf. I do not like onions and I always make sure that my food does not contain any. I had two wonderful parents, my dad Herb Adams was a television repairman and my mother Mary Adams was mostly a stay at home mom. They are both deceased now and I miss them. I am a retired Electrical Engineer specialized in control systems. I held many different positions because I worked mostly as a consultant. I did work as a Substitute Teacher, for a while, but the kids were awful. I am happiest when I am writing, as this gives my life has a purpose. Forming a sentence with meaningful words that articulate my inner feelings is an everyday quest for me. Every writer needs to tell their story, and all writers have their own style. All stories starts off with characters, who are able to entertain the reader. Creating realistic lovable characters is the best way to tell a story. If you are able to develop characters that become real to you, then you will know exactly what they will do say and do next and this lets your story progress to the completion. Writing changes everything and having the calling to create something new through the power of words is much more than just making marks on a page. Once written, a book can be used by many people to learn and be entertained. The act of writing can be compared to the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle as it contains an inherent fuzziness, because various people may derive different meanings from reading the same words. You can never know the true nature of written words and the best I can do is hope is that people will understand the meanings that I am trying to convey. There are no clear-cut laws on how to write and it is impossible for me to determine how my readers react to my books.

18 comments on “Woodstock – Challenge #178

  1. newepicauthor
    March 19, 2021

    Reblogged this on A Unique Title For Me and commented:

    The Woodstock Music Festival began on August 15, 1969, and lasted till August 18, with 400,000 hippies camped out on Max Yasgur’s dairy farm in Bethel, New York, for the epic three-day music festival. The audience bonded, quite possibly because of the large amounts of marijuana and psychedelics that were consumed at the festival. It was billed as “An Aquarian Experience: 3 Days of Peace and Music”, the event would later be known simply as Woodstock, or the Woodstock Music and Art Fair and the concert became synonymous with the counterculture movement of the 1960s. Woodstock was a success, even though few tickets were sold, many people got in for free due to virtually nonexistent security, rain then turned the festival site into a sea of mud, but a massive crowd came to see the who’s who of current rock acts, including Jimi Hendrix, Sly and the Family Stone, the Who, the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, the Jefferson Airplane, Ravi Shankar, and Country Joe and the Fish. Woodstock was the most famous of the 1960s rock festivals, but it did not run smoothly because of last-minute venue changes, bad weather and the hordes of attendees which caused major headaches. Still, somehow despite, or maybe because of a lot of sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll and rain, Woodstock was a peaceful celebration and earned its hallowed place in pop culture history.

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  6. Fandango
    March 20, 2021

    Joni Mitchell is the best!

  7. badfinger20 (Max)
    March 20, 2021

    I always liked the CSNY version of this one.

  8. I chose Big Yellow Taxi for my song and used it to write the following piece.
    https://poetryofthenetherworld.blogspot.com/2021/03/climate-change-blues.html

    • newepicauthor
      April 1, 2021

      Thanks for joining in with Big yellow Taxi. This is a multi writer site and your pingback was stuck in the spam folder, sorry for the late response.

  9. Cara Hartley
    March 26, 2021

    Let’s try this again.
    I chose Big Yellow Taxi for my song and used it to help write a new poem.
    https://poetryofthenetherworld.blogspot.com/2021/03/climate-change-blues.html

    • newepicauthor
      April 1, 2021

      Thanks for joining in with Big yellow Taxi. This is a multi writer site and your pingback was stuck in the spam folder, sorry for the late response.

  10. Cara H
    March 26, 2021

    One more shot.
    Let’s try this again.
    I chose Big Yellow Taxi for my song and used it to help write a new poem.
    https://poetryofthenetherworld.blogspot.com/2021/03/climate-change-blues.html

    • newepicauthor
      April 1, 2021

      Thanks for joining in with Big yellow Taxi. This is a multi writer site and your pingback was stuck in the spam folder, sorry for the late response.

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