Born After Woodstock – Lessons for the Caribbean

Go Lean Commentary

50 years ago today, in 1969, the legendary Woodstock Music Festival took place in White Lake, New York, USA.

Wow! This event was so impactful that we were all Born After Woodstock. This was bigger than just music!

Woodstock was one of the enduring events of the 20th century.[37] For those born before the year 1969, theirs was a “Rebirth”.

Woodstock 1969 was also the end of “Reign of American Orthodoxy”; the counter-culture emerged there upon.

Strong opinion?!

Well, this is not just our viewpoint alone. Many others express similar views; see here the Wikipedia summary here:

… Thirty-two acts performed outdoors despite sporadic rain.[6] It has become widely regarded as a pivotal moment in popular music history, as well as the definitive nexus for the larger counterculture generation.[7][8]

The event’s significance was reinforced by a 1970 Academy Award–winning documentary film, an accompanying soundtrack album, and a Joni Mitchell–written song that became a major hit for both Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and Matthews Southern Comfort.

Starting in 1979, music events bearing the Woodstock name have been planned for major anniversaries including the tenthtwentiethtwenty-fifththirtiethfortieth, and fiftieth. In 2004, Rolling Stone listed it as number 19 of the 50 Moments That Changed the History of Rock and Roll.[9] In 2017, the festival site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[10]

Having 32 acts and artists at a “concert” is a major undertaking; plus half-a-million attendees exacerbated the event. The fame and infamy of many of those artists – cause and effect of Woodstock – still lingers today. See the historic line-up here:

Friday – August 15 Saturday – August 16 Sunday – August 17
Richie Havens Quill Joe Cocker
Sweetwater Country Joe McDonald Country Joe and the Fish
Bert Sommer Santana Ten Years After
Tim Hardin John Sebastian The Band
Ravi Shankar Keef Hartley Band Johnny Winter
Melanie The Incredible String Band Blood, Sweat & Tears
Arlo Guthrie Canned Heat Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
Joan Baez Mountain Paul Butterfield Blues Band
Grateful Dead Sha Na Na
Creedence Clearwater Revival Jimi Hendrix
Janis Joplin
Sly and the Family Stone
The Who
Jefferson Airplane

That’s a lot of artists, and a lot of music:

  • 36 hours
  • 432 songs

Undeniably, the Music World was re-born after Woodstock; and the Counter-Culture was cemented too. Different attitudes and values were definitely forged during this period – some changes for good; some for bad – that resulted in the abandonment of the “bad orthodoxy” that had impeded American progress. In a previous blog-commentary, the movement behind the book Go Lean…Caribbean summarized how racial segregation, questioning the rationale for war, gender rights, sexual toleration, and recreational drug use evolved from the “fringe” to the mainstream during this time. This quotation reflects that summary:

… we are now able to better embrace the historicity of the “counter-culture” of the 1960’s. This is our most recent example of a subculture whose values and norms of behavior differed substantially from those of mainstream society. …

[This] relates “how” the stewards for a new Caribbean can shepherd societal change in this region. We accept that with the Counter-Culture, young people can reject conventional social norms. This can be good when the “mainstream” culture reflects cultural standards that are defective. The counter-culturists of the 1960’s – think Hippies – rejected the norms of their parents – from the 1950’s and before.

Yes, looking back on the 50 years since Woodstock is looking at more than just music – this festival can be labeled the soundtrack of the “Hippies” and Counter-Culture – it looks at the mechanics of how change is forged in society.

Music is a great impetus …

… this was related in a different previous blog-commentary from December 30, 2014:

… “music” can be used to forge change. The Go Lean book declares that before any real change takes root in the Caribbean that we must reach the heart, that there must be an adoption of new community ethos – the national spirit that drives the character and identity of its people. We must therefore use effective and efficient drivers to touch the heart and forge this change. How? Here’s one suggestion:

      1. Music fills your heart, well that’s a real fine place to start
        Oh, my music makes you dance and gives you spirit to take a chance
      1. And I wrote some rock ‘n roll so you can move

The Need for Change is the driving motivation of the movement and book Go Lean … Caribbean. This is the biggest lesson for the Caribbean to learn from the historicity of Woodstock. The Caribbean status quo is unsustainable; it is broken. We must reform and transform our society if we are to have any hope of a future.

In that previous blog-commentary about the Counter-Culture, it was concluded that:

The ‘Hippies’ stood in the track of an oncoming locomotive … and stopped the train!

The counter-culture brought change, some good (ie: desegregation & anti-war protest) and some bad (ie: un-kept grooming & liberal drug use)! So the ‘Hippies’ are only to be emulated as a model for forging change, not necessarily what they change. …

We are not asking the Caribbean to be “Hippies”, just learn from the “Hippies” and reject the status quo and orthodoxy of the broken Caribbean eco-system.

While we need to look forward towards the future, we also need to look backwards and learn from the lessons of the past – Woodstock 1969 is one such lesson. Like the “Hippies”, we must also reject the “bad orthodoxies” in our communities; see how this theme has been conveyed in this sample of previous blog-commentaries: Bad Rules of Hospitality – Strangers Over Neighbors Bad Ethos Retarding ‘New Commerce’ Bad Ethos on Home Violence Learning from Stereotypes – Good and Bad Waging a Successful War on Orthodoxy Economic Principle: Bad Ethos of Rent-Seeking

We can also use music in the future out-workings for changes in our society. Plus, we can use festivals and mega-events. These too are lessons learned for us in the Caribbean. These themes have also been conveyed in these previous blog-commentaries; see a sample list here: Caribbean Festival of the Arts – Past, Present and Future Want Better Event Security? ’Must Love Dogs’ Bad Week for Bahamas Events – Missing out of Opportunities Lessons Learned from “Jazz in the Gardens” (Miami) Forging Change: Panem et Circenses (Food & Festivals) Forging Change: Music Moves People

So were you born after Woodstock?

Most assuredly! We have all had new beginnings since the monumental tremors (shakings) of this event 50 years ago. Now let’s keep on shaking up the status quo in the Caribbean and challenging the orthodoxy; we must reform and transform.

And let’s have fun too! The Woodstock 1969 event was fun … for the nearly half-a-million people who attended; and despite the obvious potential for disaster, riot, looting, and catastrophe, the attendees spent the three days with music and peace on their minds. (See the related VIDEO in the Appendix below). The usual profit motive was thrown out and only the music was left.

Organizers felt they had [only two options] … to complete the fencing and ticket booths, without which the promoters would lose any profit or go into debt, or [complete the] building of the stage, without which the promoters feared they would have a disappointed and disgruntled audience.  When the audience began arriving by the tens of thousands … the Wednesday before the weekend, the decision was made for them. Those without tickets simply walked through gaps in the fences, and the organizers were forced to make the event free of charge. Though the festival left its promoters nearly bankrupt, their ownership of the film and recording rights more than compensated for the losses after the release of the hit documentary film Woodstock in March 1970.[11]

Woodstock 1969 was not a Caribbean event; but it does pose lessons for us in the Caribbean. Let’s pay attention. 🙂

About the Book
The book Go Lean…Caribbean serves as a roadmap for the introduction and implementation of the technocratic Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU), for the elevation of Caribbean society – for all member-states. This CU/Go Lean roadmap has these 3 prime directives:

  • Optimization of the economic engines in order to grow the regional economy to $800 Billion and create 2.2 million new jobs.
  • Establishment of a security apparatus to ensure public safety and protect the resultant economic engines.
  • Improve Caribbean governance to support these engines, including a separation-of-powers between the member-states and CU federal agencies.

The Go Lean book provides 370-pages of turn-by-turn instructions on “how” to adopt new community ethos, plus the strategies, tactics, implementations and advocacies to execute so as to reboot, reform and transform the societal engines of Caribbean society.

Download the free e-Book of Go Lean … Caribbean – now!

Who We Are
The movement behind the Go Lean book – a non-partisan, apolitical, religiously-neutral Community Development Foundation chartered for the purpose of empowering and re-booting economic engines – stresses that reforming and transforming the Caribbean societal engines must be a regional pursuit. This was an early motivation for the roadmap, as pronounced in the opening Declaration of Interdependence (Pages 12 – 13):

xi. Whereas all men are entitled to the benefits of good governance in a free society, “new guards” must be enacted to dissuade the emergence of incompetence, corruption, nepotism and cronyism at the peril of the people’s best interest. The Federation must guarantee the executions of a social contract between government and the governed.

xvi. Whereas security of our homeland is inextricably linked to prosperity of the homeland, the economic and security interest of the region needs to be aligned under the same governance. Since economic crimes … can imperil the functioning of the wheels of commerce for all the citizenry, the accedence of this Federation must equip the security apparatus with the tools and techniques for predictive and proactive interdictions.

xxiv. Whereas a free market economy can be induced and spurred for continuous progress, the Federation must install the controls to better manage aspects of the economy: jobs, inflation, savings rate, investments and other economic principles. Thereby attracting direct foreign investment because of the stability and vibrancy of our economy.

xxxii. Whereas the cultural arts and music of the region are germane to the quality of Caribbean life, and the international appreciation of Caribbean life, the Federation must implement the support systems to teach, encourage, incentivize, monetize and promote the related industries for arts and music in domestic and foreign markets. These endeavors will make the Caribbean a better place to live, work and play.

Sign the petition to lean-in for this roadmap for the Caribbean Union Trade Federation.


Appendix VIDEO – By The Numbers: Woodstock 1969 –

Posted August 4, 2019 “Sunday Morning” takes account of one of the most heralded events of the 1960s: the Woodstock Music and Arts Fair, where 400,000 showed up for “three days of peace and music.” Jane Pauley reports.

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