Woodstock wasn't the first music festival and it wasn't the last, but it is the event that we constantly reference to sum up an era, an ethos and a generation. Forty years ago this weekend some half-million people gathered on Max Yasgur's farm in Bethel, NY, and the world took notice.
It's easy to dismiss the concert as a logistical failure or a wasteful indulgence by a bunch of foolish middle-class kids -- and while elements of those interpretations cannot be completely ignored, the "3 Days of Peace & Music" that Woodstock promised succeeded on several levels. The world expanded musically, culturally and politically in the 1960s and -- though I was too young and completely unaware at the time -- I've had my world view shaped by that turbulent and iconic decade.
I'd like to think that, had I been older (I was 6), I would have found a way to go to Woodstock, but regardless, the idea that the status quo does not have to be accepted, that people can change the world and that art is at the essence of life have always resonated with me, and though these sentiments didn't originate in the fields, tents and mud of Bethel, they were lifted up that weekend in 1969.