Be glad in the Lord and rejoice! Psalm 32:11

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Going to some place I've never been before....

It’s hard to believe that 40 years ago, on a dairy farm in upstate New York, musical history was made. And that four decades later, people would still be talking about the phenomenon known as Woodstock.

Sure, there have been movies, documentaries and scores of books about the 1969 festival, but perhaps the defining account of what really went into putting on one of the most spectacular concerts in history can be found in the words of the man who thought it all up.

Michael Lang’s book, “The Road To Woodstock: From The Man Behind The Legendary Festival,” follows Lang’s journey from a hippie headshop owner in Miami to becoming the driving force behind the Woodstock event.

I think in most people’s minds the Woodstock festival was a thrown-together happening that a lot of people heard about through word of mouth and just up and went to. Actually months and months of work went into organizing and finalizing the details that resulted in the unprecedented event. Lang and his partners went out and found the best people in the various fields of music, promotion and construction to create what would be known as Woodstock Ventures. There were stages to be built, concessions to bring in, and the ever-present port-a-potties to arrange for. And Lang documents each and every detail that had to be worked out.

Perhaps the biggest obstacle the partnership faced was finding an actual place to hold the concert. After battling and losing to the town council of Wallkill, New York just weeks before the festival was scheduled Lang was lucky to stumble upon Max Yagsur’s farm, which would become the location where the world would assemble for three days of music, love and peace.

Also included are the stories of the financial difficulties the group faced in putting on a show this big. Lang tells how on Friday, when the enormous mass of people were descending on the farm, the realization hit him that this was going to turn into a “free” concert, and there would be no way to recoup much, if any, of the ticket sales. But the show must go on, and go on it did!

Lang includes the memories of the people he worked closely with, including the musicians who brought the music to life. There are also wonderful photos of the behind-the-scenes action backstage and throughout the “village” that had cropped up during the festival.

While there are other people’s accounts of Woodstock on the market, “The Road To Woodstock” is Michael Lang’s version of what happened during the months leading up to the famous event. It was his baby from the start, and he watched it mature into a historical moment never to be forgotten.