Deanna D. Daley
Stevens Henager College
This report is about the Woodstock Musical Festival of 1969. It started out as a mere idea amongst friends and newly found colleagues, but quickly and irreversibly spun out of control becoming a nostalgic icon of the 1960s hippie counterculture. It will explore the events of the 1960s that lead up to it, the people that made it possible and an overview of what happened during the festival. Keywords: Hippies, Woodstock, 1969, British Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND). .
Woodstock: End of an Era
The hippie counterculture that made up the population that attended the Woodstock Musical Festival of 1969 was mostly made up of that decade’s younger generation which consisted of those between their late teens to mid twenties. They called themselves “hippies” which derived from the word “hipster”. To be in the “hip” was to be “one who is aware” [ (Demand Media Property, 2011) ] and they believed that they were fully aware of what they wanted, what they believed in and how they perceived the world. And yet, it is this; the naïvely innocent and youthful ambitions of an inexperienced generation that would help cultivate and revolutionize the future cultures of America. For the United States (as well as the rest of the world) the 1960s was a decade of change. From the Cuban Missile Crisis to the Vietnam War to the Civil Rights Movement, the country seemed to be in a turbulently perpetual state of confusion. It appeared to the hippies that the world their parents had made for them was a world full of hate and war and they tried to distance themselves from it. They wanted egalitarianism between races. They wanted peace among men and their countries. And they wanted to be heard without being persecuted by “The Establishment, Big Brother or The Man” [ (Mortal Journey, 2010-2011) ] –which was any sort of government institution that ordered them to fight for a war they did not believe in. In 1964 the draft began for the Vietnam War. The youngest age for the draft was eighteen. It was baffling to those of that decade that at the age of eighteen you were old enough to die for your country, but you could not vote until you were twenty-one. This led to many antiwar protests, including those that marched on New York, The Pentagon and the Democratic Convention in Chicago, 400,000 strong in one instance. In nationwide anti-draft protest in 1967, 124 protestors had been arrested which included a Woodstock headliner, Joan Beaz. During this time of war and civil rights issues there were also the assassinations of four influential men: J.F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy. With all this turmoil going on around them and being caused, in their eyes, by their forefathers, the hippies rebelled. They turned to music and drugs which leant a voice to their growing concerns, focusing on the ideology of peace, love and personal freedom. Their choice on music consisted of folk music and psychedelic rock and they integrated LSD and marijuana into their lifestyle as a means to explore alternate states of consciousness. [ (Mortal Journey, 2010-2011) ] They implemented the “crow’s foot” peace sign, designed for the CND by Gerard Holtom in the 1950s to protest against nuclear arms, as the symbol for the antiwar movement [ (Mike Evans, 2009) ] and by the end of the decade it had become an internationally recognizable symbol of peace. Another recognizable symbol the hippies integrated into their way of life was the VW bus. They painted them with brightly colored pictures of flowers, peace signs and written love and antiwar messages. They chose this means of transport because it accommodated their need for mass transit; they could pile many friends and hitchhikers in as they trekked to their next destination, whether that was a festival or a protest. From the introduction of birth control in the United States in the early 1960s –which...