inkwell.vue.366 : Bruce Pollock, By The Time We Got to Woodstock
permalink #51 of 143: Mark McDonough (mcdee) Wed 7 Oct 09 05:20
    
Right.  Born in 1956, I got on board for the ride in a big way.  It
was a very different experience from being, say, college age.  As David
suggests, an adolescent can really throw themselves into the spirit of
the moment.  And then you get to the cusp of adulthood, and oops, your
entire world collapses and goes away.  I still consider myself
something of a displaced person, all these many decades later.
  
inkwell.vue.366 : Bruce Pollock, By The Time We Got to Woodstock
permalink #52 of 143: Bruce Pollock (bruce-pollock) Wed 7 Oct 09 09:04
    
Now that we've heard from some younger people, I wonder if there's any
older folks out there, maybe some who turned 30 at Woodstock, for whom
turning on and dropping out represented a crossroads from which they'd
have trouble returning? One of the things about the late sixties was
how it allowed so many people to prolong their adolescence way past 21.

By 1969, I had already dropped out of college a couple of times,
swearing I'd never go back, determined, like Dylan, to beat the system
(in 1970 I went back to school; in 1972 I won the college's top writing
prize; in 1974 I got my first full time writing job and a book
contract).
 
  
inkwell.vue.366 : Bruce Pollock, By The Time We Got to Woodstock
permalink #53 of 143: Every Acid Dealer Gets Busted Eventually (rik) Wed 7 Oct 09 09:24
    
I can't imagine 30-somethings putting up with the conditions.  I'm sure
there were some, but I'll bet they were damned few, and that the damned few
felt truly damned.
  
inkwell.vue.366 : Bruce Pollock, By The Time We Got to Woodstock
permalink #54 of 143: Scott MacFarlane (s-macfarlane) Wed 7 Oct 09 09:36
    
<In my opinion, an era ended, with the breakup of the Beatles, the
defection of Dylan (again), the death at Altamont.>

I loved your list of all the great variety of vibrant music listed
from 1969.  Yet, it is problematic to be too absolute about picking a
year when talking about a supernova. Perhaps this was the brightest
point of the shift that changed modern society, but music is a most
ethereal lens. The use of psychedelics certainly factors into the mix,
and if we are to believe Hunter S. Thompson in his 1971 opus "Fear &
Loathing in Las Vegas," these mind-altering (and
consciousness-altering) substances were passé by then.  

The years 1970, 1971, 1972 produced similarly vibrant music that was
reaching mass audiences in unprecedented ways.  And, yes, music (unlike
the array of electronic options available to the youth of today) was
king.  One can argue that Altamont was a symbolic watershed moment that
turned society away from the era's idealism. However, the forces at
work weren't so monolithic.  

What about 1972 as the year when the decision came down to no longer
draft young men for Vietnam?  This let the proverbial air out of the
so-called culture war, where otherwise apolitical young people no
longer had a personal stake in opposing the mainstream "establishment".
 

Again, the rise or ebb of change also depends on the cultural thread
we are tracking.  

The Last Whole Earth Catalog (the one that sold 1.5 million copies and
won a National Book Award) came out in 1971 as a high water mark in
perpetuating alternative, self-reliant living. 

Or we can look to the vitality of Marvin Gaye as indicative of social
change, both in race relations and a rising (not ending) environmental
sensitivity.  "What's Going On?" and "Mercy, Mercy Me" came out in
1971. 

That universally adored song by Helen Reddy, "I Am Woman" debuted in
what, 1972, and can certainly be seen as emblematic of the second wave
feminism that, still had no name in 1969 per the "Feminine Mystique,"
but ascended as a "named" social force in the early '70s.  This song
was certainly as significant of fundamental socio-political change as
Pete Townsend at Woodstock not allowing Abbie Hoffman to steal this
book(ing).  

So 1969 is certainly a peak year, but if we're going to talk
"supernova"--which I think is apt--then the period of observation is
best broadened to include 1967 to 1972.  Otherwise we risk unnecessary
distortion to our examination of this amazing period of monumental
cultural change in our "advanced" Western societies.
  
inkwell.vue.366 : Bruce Pollock, By The Time We Got to Woodstock
permalink #55 of 143: Mark McDonough (mcdee) Wed 7 Oct 09 10:13
    
>universally adored song by Helen Reddy, "I Am Woman"

Snort!
  
inkwell.vue.366 : Bruce Pollock, By The Time We Got to Woodstock
permalink #56 of 143: Gail Williams (gail) Wed 7 Oct 09 12:22
    
Not your anthem, eh?
  
inkwell.vue.366 : Bruce Pollock, By The Time We Got to Woodstock
permalink #57 of 143: Ed Ward (captward) Wed 7 Oct 09 12:38
    
Just not a very good song by anyone's lights, I'd say. 
  
inkwell.vue.366 : Bruce Pollock, By The Time We Got to Woodstock
permalink #58 of 143: Every Acid Dealer Gets Busted Eventually (rik) Wed 7 Oct 09 12:54
    
I am Woman, hear me bitch
Buy my records, make me rich....

She's got a lot to answer for.
  
inkwell.vue.366 : Bruce Pollock, By The Time We Got to Woodstock
permalink #59 of 143: Mark McDonough (mcdee) Wed 7 Oct 09 15:08
    
Well, not nearly as much as Alan Greenspan.
  
inkwell.vue.366 : Bruce Pollock, By The Time We Got to Woodstock
permalink #60 of 143: Bruce Pollock (bruce-pollock) Wed 7 Oct 09 15:27
    
I think the air went out of the music before it went out of the
culture wars. By the time of the McGovern debacle in 72 the left was in
tatters and all the bandwagon groupies had cut their hair.
By 1972 FM radio was on its way toward being a big business and soft
drugs were part of the teenage subculture, rather than anything
especially sacred or profound.
If you look at albums released, I'm not sure the 70-72 period can
compare to the 65-69 period, other than further albums by waning
superstars (or, in some cases, ascendant superstars, like Joni
Mitchell, Neil Young, Randy Newman, Paul Simon).
Here are some new artists who debuted during the period
Elton John
The Modern Lovers
John Prine
Carly Simon
T-Rex
Big Star
Jackson Browne
Nick Drake
Eagles
Al Green
Steely Dan

   I think you'd have to wait until 74-79 for another infusion of punk
energy and anger.
    
  
inkwell.vue.366 : Bruce Pollock, By The Time We Got to Woodstock
permalink #61 of 143: Every Acid Dealer Gets Busted Eventually (rik) Wed 7 Oct 09 16:13
    
The Eagles, Steely Dan, and Jackson Browne all released their first albums
in 1972.  Musical and lyrical quality that's as good as anything before or
since.   I'm typing this from behind the counter in a music store, and
there's a 15 year old kid practicing "Desperado" on one of our pianos.   To
him that's as far back in history as Count Basie's heyday was to me when I
took up playing music.
  
inkwell.vue.366 : Bruce Pollock, By The Time We Got to Woodstock
permalink #62 of 143: Mark McDonough (mcdee) Wed 7 Oct 09 16:33
    
Joni Mitchell's "Blue," released in 1971, was arguably the high water
mark of her career.  I'm not trying to pick on you, because if I had to
pick a year, 1969 would probably be mine too.  But half of the fun of
picking years, making lists of best albums, etc. is starting arguments!

Another point in 1971's favor: the release of "Brian Jones Presents
the Pipes of Pan at Joujouka." (I'm joking, but it is a weird artifact
of a bygone time.)

Great argument fodder:

<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:1971_albums>

<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:1969_albums>
  
inkwell.vue.366 : Bruce Pollock, By The Time We Got to Woodstock
permalink #63 of 143: Mark McDonough (mcdee) Wed 7 Oct 09 16:44
    
Ok, aq uick at 1969 tells me that you picked the correct year.

Led Zep I + II
Jefferson Airplane - Volunteers
Hot Rats
The first Chicago album
Abbey Road
The Band's second album
Blind Faith
The first Blood Sweat and Tears
Crosby Still, and Nash (first album)
Everybody Knows this is Nowhere
Five Leaves Left by Nick Drake
Green River by CCR
In a Silent Way
Johnny Winter's first album
Let It Bleed
Liege & Lief
Santana's first album

and on and on....

1971 is a rich year too, but not *that* rich.
  
inkwell.vue.366 : Bruce Pollock, By The Time We Got to Woodstock
permalink #64 of 143: Bruce Pollock (bruce-pollock) Wed 7 Oct 09 18:41
    
One of the things I go into in depth in my book is Dylan's move to
country music with Nashville Skyline in 1969--to some extent
satirically. But in a way it was typical of him to defy the
expectations of his fans (and the generation that depended on him) ie;
Newport 65, when he abandoned the folk movement for rock and roll.
Similarly, the rock and roll camp was shocked when he ambled toward the
music of the right, aided and abetted by Johnny Cash. 
    69 was a big year for country music and country rock, typified by
Merle Haggard's "Okie from Muskogee" entering the chart the same week
as the Byrds "Ballad of Easy Rider," both songs spelling doom for the
alternate culture, even as they presaged the way for the Outlaw Country
movement of the 70s (as well as the sound of mellow soft rock).
  
inkwell.vue.366 : Bruce Pollock, By The Time We Got to Woodstock
permalink #65 of 143: David Julian Gray (djg) Wed 7 Oct 09 19:19
    
1969 is the "correct" year for what?

what I think Bruce conveys well in the book is "1969" - which again he
defines at Nov 1968 - when Nixon won the electio to May 1970 and the
shootings at Kent State - was a heady and fertile time.
Not that the greatest work was done then - but the level of activity, both
musical and cultural reached a particularly heated pitch.

Yes - some great albums were released in '72 ... what year has not seen 
great and infuential work?
How about 1976? - Hotel California, Songs in the Key of Life and Hejira
WOW! ... but the *seeds* of all that work are clear in 1969...

Bruce - you've made a number of comments in this discussion, which
I found surprising in light of the book -... 
I was immediate sympatico with "By the Time we got to Woodstock"
because I've long regarded 1969 as a particularly fecund watershed - 
I hold that every strand of modern popular music, from ambient to 
hip hop to crunk to retro-grunge (grunge is retro already) was
present by and in 1969 ... all we've seen is *perhaps* some
deeper exploration and refinement.

There are precedents to that of course - the great jazz scholar
Martin Williams holds that Louis Armstrongs playing on the
Hot 5s and Hot 7s of 1925-1927 presage everything one would
have heard in jazz up through Cecile Taylor and John Coltrane -
That there's nothing Bird or Diz or Monk did that wasn't
present in Weather Bird or Hotter than that... I agree
the seeds were all there

... and so it is with "1969" 
I don't think, musically, there's been a period like
it since.
- 
  
inkwell.vue.366 : Bruce Pollock, By The Time We Got to Woodstock
permalink #66 of 143: David Julian Gray (djg) Wed 7 Oct 09 19:27
    
... and on another subject ...
I don't think Dylan was being the least bit "sarcastic"
on Nashbille Skyline ... contrary and perhaps even a bit
perverse ... oh, my, yes ... but it's actually a very pretty
album. They're all fine songs.
He's been a long time friend of Johnny Cash - and was spending
more time with hi in that period.
He recorded "Blonde on Blonde" in Nashville - in fact,
chose Nashville and the Nashville cats to save that project
which was not gellin' in Manhattan or Woodstock ...

But Nashville skyline - consciously perverse as it may be - 
was NOT a put on... as claimed Whitman for himself, so 
does Dylan "contain multitudes" - it's sincere, and 
attractive and consciously designed to build a wrapper
around its maker ... to confound his reputation without
destroying it (unlike Self-Portrait - which was more
of a lashing out ... but... I finally bought that today
I *really* like a lot of it ...)
  
inkwell.vue.366 : Bruce Pollock, By The Time We Got to Woodstock
permalink #67 of 143: Bruce Pollock (bruce-pollock) Thu 8 Oct 09 04:43
    
No, I wasn't saying Dylan was sarcastic; I was the one being sarcastic
about Dylan's fans decrying his move to country music--the music of
the enemy. Just as in another section of the book, I quote Levy Stubbs
of the Four Tops saying everyone at Motown looked toward the Beatles
for the next step, Dylan's move indicated the next step for lots of
other rockers and folkies, a step away from "revolution" and back to
"tradition."
 By the way, if I haven't said it before, by 1970, the term "folkie"
was hopelessly passe.
 But, David, I do agree that the late 60s laid the groundwork for many
years to come. When I listen to my Ipod these days, which is stocked
with 296 songs from 1969, it's amazing how many of them seem instantly
familiar--probably because they've been getting radio play steadily for
the last 40 years.
  
inkwell.vue.366 : Bruce Pollock, By The Time We Got to Woodstock
permalink #68 of 143: Mark McDonough (mcdee) Thu 8 Oct 09 04:59
    
>I don't think, musically, there's been a period like it since

Which is why it was the "correct" year to pick.

And yeah, I also noted the emergence of Merle in that year.  He'd been
around for a while, but it was certainly a banner year for him.  I
don't think "Okie From Muskogee" spelled doom for the counterculture or
much of anything else, but the response to it certainly indicated the
strength of a reactionary small town/rural culture that is still with
us.  To this day, Merle says (I am sure honestly) that he wrote it
somewhat tongue-in-cheek and to portray a certain attitude that was not
his own.  That some of his fans assumed it was a reflection of Merle's
own views is somewhat humorous - to this day, you can find both
bohemians like me and rednecks at Merle's shows.

I think "Nashville Skyline" represented Dylan trying to connect in a
more sophisticated way with American roots.  The initial "folk scare"
impulse was to reach way back to an idealized and presumably vanished
past (the songs on the Harry Smith collection, for example).  By 1969,
Dylan had seen that country music was still around as a viable
tradition.  Whether it's still around as a viable tradition today is
another question.
  
inkwell.vue.366 : Bruce Pollock, By The Time We Got to Woodstock
permalink #69 of 143: Canto, Ergo Sum (robertflink) Thu 8 Oct 09 05:49
    
The posts have been great reading.  Sorting out the past is always
interesting to me.  

I get to wondering, though, as I do when reading history in general,
if the cause/effect thing is that neat and, even if it is, what does it
say about the larger world, then, now and for the future.

That said, I like the "tongue-in cheek" idea.  There may have been
more of this than we realize.  I recall a collaborator of Don McLean's
claiming on a radio interview that "American Pie" was the product of 
word play over some beers.  I've heard many young people since working
to divine the deep meanings of the lyrics.

Come to think of it, I've had some profound thoughts when full of
beer.
  
inkwell.vue.366 : Bruce Pollock, By The Time We Got to Woodstock
permalink #70 of 143: Mark McDonough (mcdee) Thu 8 Oct 09 06:02
    
I still remember people trying to sort out the hidden meanings of
Dylan's lyrics.  a)take one genius; b)add lots of methamphetamine...
  
inkwell.vue.366 : Bruce Pollock, By The Time We Got to Woodstock
permalink #71 of 143: Bruce Pollock (bruce-pollock) Thu 8 Oct 09 07:02
    
Expecting deep meanings in the music was definitely an outgrowth of
the 60s--with the rise of rock criticism and the preponderance of
verbose album cuts on the FM airwaves. I believe it was a time when the
"elite" taste, that is, the taste of the generation then in college,
briefly became the mass taste. 
After 1969, rock returned to where it once belonged, an expression of
adolescent (and mainly working class) rebellion.
As time went on, and a lot of former Dylanographers and Dylanologists
weaned themselves off drugs, we were forced to wonder if it had all
been a delusion.
I'm sure the artists, Dylan, the Stones and the Beatles, especially,
picked up on inclinations of their audience, tweaking their lyrics
accordingly. 
  
inkwell.vue.366 : Bruce Pollock, By The Time We Got to Woodstock
permalink #72 of 143: Steve Bjerklie (stevebj) Thu 8 Oct 09 07:32
    
>>> After 1969, rock returned to where it once belonged, an expression
of adolescent (and mainly working class) rebellion. <<<

Really?
  
inkwell.vue.366 : Bruce Pollock, By The Time We Got to Woodstock
permalink #73 of 143: Mark McDonough (mcdee) Thu 8 Oct 09 07:37
    
Smoking a lot of weed also encourages one to look for hidden meanings,
or so I hear.  Sometimes they are even there (for example, in the work
of the Firesign Theatre).
  
inkwell.vue.366 : Bruce Pollock, By The Time We Got to Woodstock
permalink #74 of 143: Bruce Pollock (bruce-pollock) Thu 8 Oct 09 09:31
    
To stevebj:
Not really?
Are you implying that rock has consistently since the end of the 60s
reflected the taste of the college audience? I think the college
audience has been marginalized at the altar of the watered down. But
I'd love further examples of your theory.
  
inkwell.vue.366 : Bruce Pollock, By The Time We Got to Woodstock
permalink #75 of 143: Bruce Pollock (bruce-pollock) Thu 8 Oct 09 09:32
    
I also think rock music in the late 60s was considered the elite art
form as well, even more desirable for a creative kid to pursue than
writing, filmmaking, or acting, etc.

These days, even TV is considered more relevant (IMHO).
  

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