Published July 17, 2009
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.