By Russ: This post is more about the song than about the epic 1969 event, which has been well documented, so here is some very brief background.
The “Woodstock Music & Art Fair” was a festival, billed as “An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music“.
It was held on a 600-acre farm in New York state near the little hamlet of White Lake in the town of Bethel from August 15 to 18.
During the sometimes rainy weekend, 32 acts performed outdoors before an audience of 400,000 people. The organizers were expecting only around 50,000.
The Festival was marked by widespread drug use, denial of reality (as well as a search for a better one), some nudity and fornication. A countless number of people claim to have been conceived at the Woodstock festival.
But during the three days, there were no reported incidents of violence among the half-million mainly middle class youth. In spite of rain storms, mud, hunger, insufficient toilets and shelter adding to the wilderness type experience, the event went off very peacefully. Time magazine marveled at “the agape-like sharing of food and shelter by total strangers”.
The festival was commemorated in a song “Woodstock” written by Joni Mitchell.
Joni described the event with her lyrics ‘We are stardust we are golden‘, from what she heard of it from then-boyfriend Graham Nash, ex-Hollies and one third of Crosby, Stills & Nash, who got to perform as one of the acts.
Ironically, Joni Mitchell never actually made it to the festival herself, heeding advice from her manager. It was all about logistics and the time it would take to get there and back for a very important TV appearance the next day as a guest on the Dick Cavett Show. So she witnessed the event on television with tears streaming down her face.
“Woodstock” became a major hit for Crosby, Stills & Nash after the concert, and also a group called Mathews Southern Comfort.
Optional Sidebar Information for Those Who Want More
An interesting account of how Graham Nash and Joni Mitchell came together.
The Portrait of An Artist – Joni Mitchell
A 1974 Concert / Joni Mitchell performing with Tom Scott’s LA Express / includes her classic “Help Me” and other great songs