Friday, July 23, 2010

Extracts: 'Remembering Woodstock’

Here are three more extracts of the text ‘Remembering Woodstock’. Each of these discuss the context in which the concert was held and the relationship between the music of that era and the social context in which it was written, recorded and performed:

In the original 1969 Woodstock, rock music rode on the back of the politics and not vice versa. The event was envisioned as participatory, non-commercial and counter-cultural, with music being the cultural prism for already existing social movements. Abbie Hoffman, notorious political activist of that period, saw it as epitomizing a part of an ongoing social revolution which was ‘not something fixed in ideology, nor is it something fashioned to a particular decade. It is a perpetual process embedded in the human spirit. Yet, of course, there were issues specific to the period: at that time, ‘the civil rights and anti-war movements engaged millions of people in the politics of direct action primarily on the strength of the issues themselves’ (Garofalo, 1992, p.16). In turn, the politics influenced the style and form of the music itself. Today’s world is very different. With the decline in trust and belief in the political power of social movements popular music has come to the fore. It fills the gap, often serving as the main vehicle to organize large masses of people raising social awareness.[1]

[D]espite its reliance on systems of mass production and mass communications, which tied it firmly in with the industrial logic of late capitalism, the rock music of the 1960s enjoyed a status as an authentic, artistic form of expression that set it apart, in the minds of those who performed and listened to it, from commercial chart music (see Willis, 1978; Frith, 1983). This in turn engendered a feeling among rock audiences that their bonding with rock performers was one of ’community’, and that the music produced by rock artists was the music of the counter-culture in that it communicated a message and cause endorsed by all of those with counter-cultural involvement – audiences and musicians alike... In every sense then, the notion of a counter-cultural community was a myth, maintained by the sheer belief of those involved that music could, in some way, represent their interests and, ultimately, change the world.[2]

[I]n the late 1960s it was possible to maintain the illusion that certain musical practices acted as a universalizing social force. The strength of this association mist not be underestimated. While popular music in the industrialized Weest in the 1930s and 1940s had been a leisure pursuit, and in the 1950s and early 2960s had become crucial to subcultural identification ... as the available stylists patters multiplied, the revulsions felt by affluent youth at US imperialism in South-east Asia coincided with an ever more radical approach to music-making and selling, such that we talk about a single counter-culture, indefinable by it ‘sound’.[3]

[1] Gerry Bloustien, ‘Still picking children form the trees? Reimagining Woodstock in twenty-first-century Australia’ in Ed. Andy Bennett ‘Remembering Woodstock’ (Ashgate 2004) Pg 128
[2] Andy Bennett, ‘Everybody’s happy, everybody’s free’: Representation and nostalgia in the Woodstock film’ in Ed. Andy Bennett, ‘Remembering Woodstock’ (Ashgate 2004) 48 - 49
[3] Allan F. Moore, ‘The contradictory aesthetics of Woodstock’ in Ed. Andy Bennett, ‘Remembering Woodstock’ (Ashgate 2004) 76

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