Reporter's Note: President Obama was not really old enough to attend Woodstock, and neither was I. On the other hand every president before him was old enough, (well, some were dead by then,) but none of them went. Go figure. So here’s another letter to the White House.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/SHOWBIZ/Music/08/14/meaning.woodstock/art.hendrix.woodstock.courtesy.jpg caption="Jimi Hendrix closed the Woodstock festival on Monday morning, August 18, 1969."]
Tom Foreman | Bio
Dear Mr. President,
Happy Woodstockiversary! I’ll be dragging out my soundtrack album (oh yeah, vinyl timyl!) firing up the Fender, and no doubt scaring the dog with a noisy tribute. Listen carefully: When I launch into my cover of Voodoo Chile there’s a good chance you’ll hear the distant sound of Hendrix spinning in his grave. How about you; any plans to celebrate?
I know that we were both too young to be part of that whole shindig, and I confess even if I’d been old enough I probably would not have gone. The whole hippie scene never did much for me. I’ve never used drugs, and I’m not that fond of mud. Still, I find Woodstock an interesting cultural milestone.
Some of the music was intriguing; some of it was self-indulgent and boring. Not unlike this string of letters. Ha! Same goes for some of the moments. “We must be in heaven, man!” With a Joan Baez soundtrack? I don’t think so.
If I could go back in time to check out any of the Woodstock acts in person, I suppose I would be in the company of a lot of folks saying, “Bring on Jimi.” I’ve heard his influence in the chops of so many other guitar heroes over the years I’d love to see the man himself. A friend of mine did, btw. The year after Woodstock, when Hendrix played the Atlanta Pop Festival. My pal said it truly was an extraordinary thing to see and hear. As I write this, I’ve punched up YouTube to watch him performing. “Red House.” “Voodoo Child.” Fun!
But for all the pluses and minuses of Woodstock, and all the mythology that has grown up around it, the idea that music could “matter” that much to so many people is just flat out cool. I’ve always believed that the arts make a difference in our world. Maybe we can’t measure their impact the same way we measure the economy, politics, or sports, but I feel like they give meaning to our lives and need to be encouraged.
So like I said, Happy Woodstockiversary. Give me call if you want to get together and jam, but for the moment I’ll stand up next to a mountain…and chop it down with the edge of my hand.
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