A GENERATIONAL REVOLUTION

August 16, 2019 at 5:00 am

From hippies to the history books, pop culture expert Professor Robert Thompson, tackles the myths versus the realities of this historic event that defined a generation and changed the country.

Aired on August 15, 2019.

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>> WOODSTOCK IN THE SUMMER OF
1969, THOUSANDS OF YOUNG
AMERICANS GATHERED ATIAS GER'S
FARM AND JAMMED ALONG WITH JIMI
HENDRIX, JANIS JOPLIN, RICHIE
HAVENS AND SO MANY MORE ICONIC
MUSIC SOUNDS.
IT WAS A FESTIVAL OF MUSIC AND
LIFE COUPLED WITH THE BURGEONING
SEXUAL AND DRUG LIBERATION OF
THE TIME.
AS 138 CELEBRATES THE SUMMER OF
'69, LET'S TAKE A LOOK AT
WOODSTOCK MYTHES THE VERSUS
WOODSTOCK REALITY AND JOINING US
NOW TO YOU GO ALONG ON THIS TRIP
AND TO DISCUSS HOW WOODSTOCK
MARKED THE END OF AN ERA FOR THE
ENTIRE COUNTRY AND THE BEGINNING
OF A NEW ONE, ONE OF OUR
FAVORITE GUESTS PROFESSOR ROBERT
THOMPSON, FOUNDING DIRECTOR OF
AMONG OTHER THINGS THE FOUNDER
DIRECTOR OF THE BLEIER CENTER
FOR TELEVISION AND POPULAR
CULTURE AT SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY.
ALWAYS A PLEASURE TO HAVE YOU
HERE WITH US TO TALK ABOUT ALL
OF THESE THINGS.
LET ME START WITH WHAT WAS THE
LURE?
I MEAN OBVIOUSLY THE MUSIC WAS
ATTRACTIVE.
BUT WHAT WAS -- WHAT WAS?
WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION THAT
BROUGHT SO MANY PEOPLE TO THIS
PLACE.
>> YEAH, YOU KNOW PART OF IT WAS
JUST MAGIC.
IT WAS KIND OF A DISORGANIZED
THING.
IF YOU GO BACK AND SEE HOW -- IT
WAS ORALLY GOING TO HAVE TICKETS
AND THEN THEY HAVE TO OPEN IT TO
FREE.
THEY DIDN'T HAVE THE THING SET
UP.
TRAFFIC WAS COMPLETELY NOT
ACCOUNTED FOR.
BUT FOR ALL NUMBER OF REASONS,
DOZEN OF THESE GREAT PEOPLE
PLAYING, THIS BECAME KIND OF THE
SIREN CALL IN THE GOLDEN AGE OF
THE COUNTER CULTURE TO COME,
COME, COME TO WOODSTOCK.
SOMETHING REALLY SPECIAL WILL
HAPPEN THERE.
AND SOMETHING DID.
AND I DON'T THINK IT WAS THE
MUSIC.
THE MUSIC ONLY BECAME IMPORTANT
WHEN THE FILM CAME OUT AND WHEN
THE SOUND TRACK CAME OUT.
LET'S FACE IT, MOST OF THOSE
PEOPLE WHO WERE THERE WERE SO
FAR AWAY THEY COULDN'T EVEN SEE
THE BAND LET ALONE HEAR THEM.
THE SOUND SYSTEM WASN'T DESIGNED
FOR THAT MANY PEOPLE.
THIS WAS SO MUCH MORE ABOUT A
HAPPENING AND IN MANY WAYS YOU
AND I, YOU WORRYING ABOUT YOUR
SUMMER JOB, THAT SO
ESTABLISHMENT, THE FACT AN THAT
WE DIDN'T GO WAS ONE OF THE
REASONS WHY THEY WANTED TO.
>> LET'S TALK ABOUT SOME OF
THOSE MYTHS VERSUS REALITIES.
ALL RIGHT?
SO THE FIRST ONE YOU TOUCHED ON,
THE NOTION OF THE MUSIC,
FABULOUS MUSIC.
LEGENDRY PERFORMERS BUT NOT THAT
MANY PEOPLE ACTUALLY GOT TO HEAR
THEM.
>> IN SO MANY WAYS SO MANY MORE
PEOPLE SHOWED UP THAN WAS
EXPECTED.
MOST PEOPLE WERE WAY, WAY FAR
BACK.
AND LET'S REMEMBER, THIS IS
BEFORE THEY HAD THE BIG VIDEO
SCREENS SO ALL YOU HAD TO DO IS
LOOK YONDER AT THOSE TINY, TINY
THINGS THAT MAY OR MAY NOT BE
THE PEOPLE PERFORMING.
SO THE MUSIC WAS IMPORTANT, THAT
WAS WHY THEY WERE THERE.
THAT'S WHAT BROUGHT THEM THERE
BUT ONCE THEY GOT THERE IT WAS
ABOUT ALL OF THIS OTHER STUFF.
>> SEE A COUPLE OF INTERESTING
THINGS.
ONE YOU MENTION THE FACT THAT
THIS IS ONE OF THOSE EVENTS THAT
SO MANY MORE PEOPLE SAY YEAH, I
WAS AT WOODSTOCK.
YOU LOOK AT THEM AND SAY NO, YOU
WEREN'T.
BEYOND THAT, WE TALKED ABOUT THE
MUSIC.
IT'S THIS SORT OF THIS VISION,
THE MYTH OF THIS IDEAL LICK
GATHERING IN MEADOWS AND LOVELY
SORT OF PERSONAL INTERACTIONS.
TALK ABOUT LIKE THE WEATHER AND
THE MUD AND THE FACILITIES,
FOOD, WHAT WAS THAT ALL ABOUT?
>> THIS WAS IS THE PERFECT
MANIFESTATION OF THE COUNTER
CULTURE OF THE HIM HAD IIE
MOVEMENT AS WE CALLED IT BACK
THEN.
YOU'RE RIGHT.
THIS WAS BACK TO THE GARDEN.
IT WAS A DAIRY FARM, FOR
HEAVEN'S SAKES.
THIS REALLY DID YOU KNOW, IN SO
MANY WAYS WAS THE EPITOME OF
WHAT SO MUCH OF THE COUNTER
CULTURE WAS ABOUT.
AND WHEN THEY GOT THERE, NATURE
CONTINUED TO COOPERATE BY
RAINING AND MAKING MUD AND
ALLOWING PEOPLE TO LITERALLY
BECOME ONE WITH NATURE AS THEY
FELL IN THE MUD.
AND THEY DIDN'T MIND.
I THINK MOST AUDIENCES TODAY
WOULD NEVER TOLERATE THE
CONDITIONS AT WOODSTOCK.
THE LACK OF ENOUGH BATHROOMS,
LACK OF FOOD AND WATER AND ALL
THE REST OF IT.
BUT SOMEHOW THAT BACK TO THE
GARDEN THING REALLY WORKED.
>> WELL, AS WE SAID, IT WAS
EIGHT FASCINATING MOMENT IN TIME
THAT CAPTURED SO MUCH OF WHAT
WAS GOING ON IN OUR CULTURE AND
OUR SOCIETY BACK THEN.
AND WHEN WE HAVE YOU ON HERE, IT
ALWAYS ILLUSTRATES TO ME WHY
YOU'RE SUCH AN EXTRAORDINARY
TEACHER BECAUSE WE LEARNED SO
MUCH FROM YOU IN OUR
CONVERSATIONS.
PROFESSOR ROBERT THOMPSON --
IT'S ALWAYS OUR PLEASURE TO HAVE
YOU HERE WITH US AND SHARE YOUR
THOUGHTS.
WE'LL LOOK FORWARD TO OUR NEXT
CONVERSATION.
THANKS AGAIN FOR JOINING US AND
YOU BE WELL.

Mutual of America PSEG

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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