Woodstock at 40

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In this Aug. 1969 file photo, concert-goers sit on the roof of a Volkswagen bus at the Woodstock Music and Arts Fair at Bethel, N.Y. (AP Photo)
Concert-goers sit on the roof of a Volkswagen bus at the Woodstock Music and Arts Fair at Bethel, N.Y., August 1969. (AP)

By the time they got to Woodstock, they were half a million strong, Joni Mitchell wrote.

And everywhere was song and celebration.

Forty years ago this weekend, on Yasgur’s farm in upstate New York, there was music and mud, Canned Heat singing "Going Up the Country," Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, many more — and a glimpse of something extraordinary.

Forty years later, we’re still debating what that was.

This hour, On Point: two generations look back on Woodstock.

You can join the conversation. Were you there? Were your parents? Your grandparents’ generation? What did we glimpse at Woodstock? Can you find it at Burning Man? At Bonaroo?

Tell us what you think — here on this page, on Twitter, and on Facebook.


Joining us from New York City is Anthony DeCurtis. He's a longtime critic and contributing editor at Rolling Stone and teaches in the English department at the University of Pennsylvania. He was 18 years old and living in New York City in August 1969.  His books include, "Rocking My Life Away: Writing About Music and Other Matters" (1998) and, "In Other Words: Artists Talk About Life and Work" (2005).

And joining us from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, is Ann Powers, chief pop music critic for the Los Angeles Times and a former editor at the Village Voice. She was senior curator for the Experience Music Project in Seattle from 2001-2005. Her books include "Weird Like Us: My Bohemian America" (1999), and "Rock She Wrote: Women Write About Rock, Pop, and Rap" (1994). She was five years old in the summer of '69.


On Point interviewed Richie Havens in 2005. Havens' opening performance at Woodstock in 1969 is remembered as one of the festivals' greatest. Here's a link to Michael Wadleigh's 1970 documentary "Woodstock".

The performers weren't the only attraction. Here's a slideshow with photos of Woodstock concert-goers:

This program aired on August 14, 2009.


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