The Real Stars of Woodstock

I’ve been going through all the Woodstock videos. And there’s a lot more to watch then there used to be.

  • The Ultimate Collector’s Edition (3 discs total)
  • The Director’s Cut version of just the movie (2 discs) – 225 minutes compared to 184 for original
  • The VHS tape called The Lost Performances

In the Ultimate Collectors Edition you’ve got the Director’s Cut for the regular movie (2 discs). This comes on regular 2-disc version too. And then you’ve also got the Extras disc with a bunch more performances by the bands and lots of interviews with promoters and movie crew (and even a Hugh Hefner Playboy After Dark section). And you’ve also got the VHS tape called The Lost Performances with songs that you can’t get on any of the other DVDs.

The Woodstock Crowd

The Woodstock Crowd

Anyway, I’ve been watching all these and it hit me. Even though some of these performances are great, it’s all the shots of the crowds that really get my attention.That’s where the real “fun” was being had and where the real story of Woodstock was happening.

And most of those shots aren’t necessarily of people watching the music although that’s what most people are there for. There’s also plenty of shots of people just hanging around, or doing yoga, or interviews with people (the one of the guy cleaning out the port-a-san is a classic), or of course the nude swimmers at the pond. These are the real stars of the movie to me.

You can tell these hippies are having fun and sharing something very special. But it’s the interviews with the townpeople and the movie crew and the organizers that are sticking in my mind.

Here’s some examples…

  • The guy that jumped on stage with Canned Heat and Bob Hite totally accepted and put his arm around while he sang
  • Artie Kornfield and Michael Lang (the promoters) talking about how the vision was working while they were getting rained on. In the middle of the interview a helicopter starts to drop flowers and dry clothes on the crowd. In split screen a couple undresses to make love.
  • The Port-A-San man sharing how he is happy to help these kids and has his own kid at the show and one in Vietnam. I great man from the older generation. It had to open all our eyes that the older generation isn’t all bad.
  • Max Yasgur addressing the crowd and saying “you’ve proven something to the world… 3 days of fund and music… and nothing but fun and music… and I God bless you for it.”

And on the Extras disc there are so many juicy tidbits like…

  • Chip Monck got to be MC because Michael Lang forgot to book anyone. He was notified at 7:00 AM on Friday. Chip was actually in charge of the lights so he had no prior MC experience really. All this time I thought he was a professional announcer.
  • The story of how the “brown acid” announcement happened. And how he did his best to soften the tone so it wouldn’t promote bad trips.
  • How as the traffic congestion got worse and worse the promoters had to find more and more helicopters to get performers and supplies to the site.
  • How big of a negative effect the rain on Saturday had on the logistics and equipment for the festival… but somehow the crowd and the bands and the organizers rose above it.
  • Martin Scorsce’s comments about how the experience of the Woodstock music effected all of his subsequent movies. He was a lowly “assistant director” to Michael Wadleigh the film’s “creator.”

Yes, the crowd and the people were the real stars of Woodstock.


advert

One Response to “The Real Stars of Woodstock”

  1. October 21, 2011 at 4:12 pm #

    Hey Rick, I really would like to do a podcast interview with you about your experiences at woodstock. Let me know if you are interested. You can email me at duff@countrcultur.com Thanks.