Looking back at the 60’s from the 10’s all anyone can say is: “what the hell was that?”. It came, seemingly out of nowhere, and vanished just as quickly: peace, love, and dope. Long hair, beards. Tie dye and peace signs. Here. Gone. It was only a tiny slice of the world that actually participated in that culture, but – for a certain set of young people, it was incredibly cool – for what seems like 5 minutes. The legacy of those times seems largely negative. In politics, anyone to the left of Barry Goldwater is ridiculed as a “long haired hippie”. No one openly professes a belief in peace or love out of embarrassment.
Watching Woodstock – 3 Days of Peace and Music left me feeling sympathetic for those times. People were searching – they knew the values of the conservative older generation were – somehow – wrong. But exactly how? And what should replace it? Hedonism? They tried that. Eastern mysticism? Tried that too. Rock and Roll? They looked for the answer there. Psychedelic drugs? Tried it. The answer never emerged. Some people found bits of meaning in all or parts of those, but a wide consensus never emerged. And as that generation aged and the novelty of the ideas wore off, the urgency of the search faded. They melted into the mainstream culture which, to a small extent, accommodated itself to them: we are left with granola bars and pricey organic grocery stores. Only small bits of the 60’s are left adrift in our mainstream culture.
Humans are odd – and human culture is a collective oddity. I enjoyed the music in this very well-made film, and it was interesting seeing all those very young musicians who are now past retirement age – if they survived. But the value of the film for me was making me think about how odd humans are. Not just then. Now.