Woodstock, the Revolutionary – Young Musicians Turn War into Love and Their Echo through Time Empowers the Following Musical Eras

  • about 1 month ago

August the 15th is finally here and we feel empowered by the past to set in remembrance and honour one of the most – if not the most – impactful musical events upon human rights and humanity: Woodstock. Let’s take a trip down memory lane and step right at Max Yasgur’s 600-acre dairy farm near White Lake in Bethel, New York. Time? Fifty years ago, in 1969. We are a group of young people headed for “3 days of peace and music “.

  1. The “Make Love, Not War “ mantra

Being hippie meant being part of the counterculture of the 1960s. With the Civil Rights movement blooming and the Vietnam War infiltrating through their pores and hearts, an estimated one million people gathered to celebrate love through music, in return. One million people turned for three days into one beating heart, chanting together about the importance of love.

Max Yasgur, the humble farmer who lent his land for the occasion, remembers about the youth gathered at the festival: “… You’ve proven something to the world…the important thing that you’ve proven to the world is that a half a million kids, and I call you kids because I have children who are older than you are, a half a million young people can get together and have three days of fun and music and have nothing but fun and music and God bless you for it!”

Initially, about 50,000 people were expected, but their number increased as the minutes went by, all young and hoping for a better future. A future reigned in peace, with rainbows over the horizon instead of bombs, with no poor people tormented by hunger and pain, with powerful women and no racism.

Music that echoes through time

When one voice rages against the misfortunes of its time, it might be heard. When a group of people comes together under the same ideal, it becomes a community. But when the folk and rock icons of the age gather at Woodstock, in the socio-political context of 1969, it becomes the statement of a generation and remains alive 50 years later.

The first big-name talent to sign in was Creedence Clearwater Revival. Their action was the starting point of a musical phenomenon, which brought on the same stage names like Janis Joplin, Arlo Guthrie, Joe Cocker, Joan Baez, The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Sly and the Family Stone and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, The Who, Santana and many others.

The three days festivities were closed by no other than the group led by Jimi Hendrix. After being introduced as the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Hendrix corrected the new group’s name to “Gypsy Sun and Rainbows, for short it’s nothin’ but a band of gypsies. “It was already Monday, 9 in the morning, when he got on stage to mesmerize the – unfortunately – leaving public for two hours. The ones at Woodstock remember until today his performance of The Star-Spangled Banner, the national anthem of the United States.

Tracey Nicholls writes about the impactful moments the following: “Shifting between faithful rendition and strategic distortion, Hendrix forcefully shows his audience the moral inconsistency of a nation that sang this song at the same time as it dropped bombs on the people of other nations. The sounds Hendrix pulls out of the guitar in that iconic performance are reminiscent of explosions and squeals of horror at exactly the points one who is singing along would get to <<the rockets’ red glare>> and <<bombs bursting in air>>.”

2. JMI in the Flower Power Era

Although the Vietnam War was hanging above people’s heads like Damocles’ sword, peacebuilding was in the making and Woodstock was a massive proof of that. If on American soil, young musicians gathered to create the most impactful festival of all times, in Europe JMI was already creating connections, raising the musicians of tomorrow.

Jeunesses Musicales International was officially created in Brussels, Belgium in 1945, with the mission to “enable young people to develop through music across all boundaries”. Just like Woodstock, JMI was created as a form of protest against the war and it was triggered by the occupation of the young musicians’ country. If in the beginning, the focus of JMI was only youth orchestras, by the time Woodstock was revolutionizing the world, the organization was expanding to other musical styles. This expansion was proof of openness and artistic triumph upon war. ”In the late 60’s, JMI also opened up to different styles of music such as contemporary classical music, ethnic and traditional music, jazz and pop/rock.”

3. Disco VS Punk: The Glittery & The Rebels

Some analysts have asserted that disco is as a result of a reaction against the dominance of the rock music as well as stigmatization of the dance music by the counterculture that emerged during that time. “Developed in the 1970s, from the United States’ urban nightlife scene, disco was the last popular music movement driven by the baby boom generation. Still, it was a means of the young population to go against the dysfunctionalities of society.

Easily recognized by their glittery clothing and colourful lights, the discotheque lovers would continue the fight with the system. In that period, minorities of society – such as the black American or the Hispanics, could finally thrive.

On the other hand, but still “fighting with de-industrialization, wage stagnation, and the corporate restructuring now known as outsourcing “, stands Punk music. As it promoted individual freedom, the movement was against any political ideals, anti-corporatism, anti-government, direct action and not “selling out “. Emblematic for this fight was the British band The Sex Pistols, whose slogan No Future, from the song God Save the Queen, came to define an entire generation.

4. The dream goes on through hip hop

The dream of a free spirit and humanity turned towards humanity rather than towards political implications still goes on through hip hop. Born in Bronx, New York City, hip hop speaks of the fight of the poor against the rich and all the discrepancies that occur in a society ruled by corruption.

Vocal today through movements such as Fair Play: Anti-Corruption Youth Voices, hip hop stands strong against the mainstream and goes way into the suburbs, into the ghetto, to collect the stories of the less fortunate and bring them to light. “The powerful messages of these songs from our community are shaping the world and letting the corrupt know that their days are numbers and that we will bring an end to impunity! “

Another program which empowers hip hop artists and their work is Hip Hop Plus. It allows young people to express themselves while growing personally and artistically. The name says it all – this program is Plus, is something more than just youngsters playing hip hop. It involves a wide range of artistic expressions linked to the hip hop culture, such as graffiti, breakdance or beatbox.