I suppose you had to have been there to truly understand what Woodstock was about, and that just might be the reason why I still don’t understand. I wasn’t there, but I was supposed to be. It’s just another time where I was on the outside of everything happening, looking in, not ever truly able to comprehend the meaning of it all.
Up the road a bit was this little house that set back from the road. Most of the time, it was buried in weeds and junk cars – until Vicky Costa and her husband bought the place. Vicky was young, beautiful and an opera singer with an incredible clear, angelic voice.
I don’t remember how I met Vicky, but she and I would spend hours making music. She’d sing and I’d play guitar and sing backup harmony. Those times often included partying, though I wasn’t brave enough yet to partake. We played several coffee houses way back when. It was my introduction to the world of folk music and “playing out” – and the world of sex, drugs and rock and roll that was the hallmark of the era.
I’d get lost in the music we made. I could listen to Vicky sing for hours at a time and never get tired of playing the guitar along with her. I’d forget to watch the clock, and hence, was late coming home the night before we were all to leave to go to Woodstock. I wasn’t really interested in going, it didn’t sound like it was all that interesting, and I didn’t care for the majority of bands slotted to play. I would much rather stay home and put the finishing touches on the tunes we were working on for our next coffee house.
The next time I saw Vicky after Woodstock, all she could say is that the photo that was everywhere showed her right in the middle of it. I never did see that photo, and searching for it today, I still haven’t seen it.
But, things changed after Woodstock. Vicky was changed. We played a few more coffee houses, and that was it. She wanted to focus on getting promo shots done and auditioning for off-Broadway plays. She landed her role and moved to NYC and I never saw her again.
Not long after Woodstock, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix died of heroine overdoses. The stories started coming out about what really happened at Woodstock too. It was all sex, drugs and rock and roll. I heard stories about gang bangs, orgies, bad acid trips, people sitting naked, sleeping naked and relieving themselves in the same place for the entire three days. I heard about deaths, tramplings, little children abandoned and drugs. Always drugs. It wasn’t hard to understand why Vicky changed.
Being a hippy meant standing against the war in Vietnam. It was, as has been repeated many times, a counterculture that won many battles for human rights, then lost the war. It was a generation of meaning and purpose, and it all changed with Woodstock. That weekend violently killed morals and values and purpose and let it all go with unbridled inhibition. There was no innocence left after Woodstock. It was the beginning of the end.
I was on the outside looking in, and never understood the attraction of Woodstock that ended up fatal in so many ways. I will always mourn the losses.