Woodstock...You Had to Be There

By

Published July 17, 2009

| FoxNews.com

Forty years. FORTY YEARS!?!?!?

They say if you remember Woodstock, you weren't there. 

It's true . . . I remember Woodstock like it was yesterday. I wasn't there.

Forty years ago I was a college kid working a summer job in midtown Manhattan, about a 90-minute drive to a small dot on a large map called White Lake, N.Y., where a three-day outdoor concert was about to begin.

If you were between the ages of 15 and 25 and a regular listener to WNEW-FM, where rock lived -- and that pretty much described every kid within earshot of New York City -- then you knew one thing: 

You had to go to Woodstock. Everyone would be there.

Jimi was going. Janis was going. Johnny and Edgar were going. The Dead, the Band, the Who, Santana, CS&N, Sly, Arlo, Creedence, the Airplane, and my personal favorite -- the Butterfield Blues Band. They would all be there.

And my generation would be there, too. We were stardust. We were golden. We were half a million strong.

But... I had a summer job. So my buddy Mike and I decided we would rush to the subway after work on Friday, go home, change into our cutoffs and t-shirts, hop into the car I'd just bought with the money I'd been saving since I was 13, and drive north, to Yasgur's Farm. We'd probably miss Richie Havens . . . but we'd get there.

Only once we got home, it was already too late: The radio was now reporting that traffic was backed up to the George Washington Bridge -- a 91-mile traffic jam. Route 17 was closed. The New York State Thruway was closed. The official word was: If you're not already there, turn around, because you're not going to get there.

So all I could do was sit, sit, sit, sit. And I did not like it, not one little bit. 

I sat at home all weekend and listened to news reports of the "happening" -- there's a term you don't hear anymore -- at Woodstock. 

The news reports told of no food, no water, no bathrooms, no sleep, and lots and lots of mud. Sex, drugs, freak-outs, be-ins. 

My parents took every opportunity to remind me how lucky I was not to be there.

But they didn't get it. They were over 30, and not to be trusted. 

Jimi died a couple of years later. Janis, too. They took a piece of my heart; I never saw either in concert.

Forty years later, gray-haired Boomers -- the lucky ones who still have their hair -- will offer a knowing smile and say "I was there."

And forty years later, this gray-haired Boomer remains so very envious of them.

Woodstock was three glorious days of never-ending peace, love and rock 'n' roll. Or was that sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll?

I really should remember. I wasn't there.

Steve Bromberg is the executive editor of FOXNews.com.

URL

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2009/07/17/steve-bromberg-woodstock