“Woodstock” is less of a film and more of a statement. A statement that personifies an era, and celebrates it as a whole. What was NOT happening in the 60’s? The “peace” movement was taking over, Vietnam was tearing our old America apart with the protests and there was this revival going on of the youth. People were rising up, people were changing. And like any other decade, any other generation, people were realising that even if they did come out unscathed out of the whole deal, there would be no way that the world would remain unchanged.
The end of the decade came, and so came this music festival. The artists were all there, the protestors, the angry men who had called for a war fought using peace. There were children there, there was the youth, and they had created the third largest city in America. For three days, they celebrated their generation in something that has since, become a myth of sorts. For people who weren’t there at Woodstock, the place and time serves as something extraordinary, the start of something, the end of a lot of things. And the movie that circulates around it has become legendary too, lived to become something different, become a phenomena of our time.
Till date, listening to Joan Baez singing “Joe Hill” in that dark stage raises the shivers. You feel a fraction of the feeling that those present would have felt. These people were witnessing their own tragedies and their own triumphs all on the same stage. The energy was breaking the surface and it was making them realise that the world was becoming much wider. There would be people moving away from that place in trucks who would become another generation, who would raise kids and immortalise an idea of peace that still lives on. Maybe, a lot died with that festival too, but, that moment in perfect, so, so , perfect.
When Arlo Guthrie performs the song “Coming in to Los Angeles”, you see the people having a smoke, the smell of marijuana hangs around you too, but, there is peace there. As the soulful voice punches through the hearts, the blood is only flowers. The camera moves naturally, and we see the feelings out in the open. There is no shame at Woodstock, there is no pain at Woodstock. We know that someone died there because of some sort of heroin overdose, that people were sick because of the rain. But, then we hear the woman tell us about this guy who was high, and asked her something about what color would jealousy be, and we laugh. For, no matter whether we drink or not, we know that feeling.
“Woodstock” as a film, not only defines a generation, it defines something that is integral to every teenage mind, this feeling of brotherhood of goodness of being the person they are and not pretending just for the sake of it. There is something magical to be gained from that, something that is eternal.
Heck, this is the festival where helicopters dropped flowers and dry clothes over the people when there was rain. This is the festival where the rain could not wash the people away. Where the announcer says something like, “If some of you still think that capitalism isn’t that weird you can buy some burgers and help that burger guy out there.”.
There is spirit in there. And when we see this Port-o-san guy say that he has a kid in Woodstock and another in the Vietnam war we see the two faces of america in front of us. How many were drafted in the military at that time? How many children were dying while they celebrated their generation? The moment when the question is asked comes with a rag-tag singer asking about the Nam war over the stage. The feeling forces out everywhere and almost everyone is singing out loud. The song is seeping through the bones.
Sure, we can find fault with this generation, and there are many that we could list even now. But, the times were a’ changing. the wars had just ended and another had suddenly started, the music scene had suddenly become greater and encompassed so much more. Joan Baez tells of her husband being carried away from one jail to another, she makes a joke about it,. These guys are not afraid of the place and time. They are enamored with it. They are enamored with the entire deal. They are in love with themselves and the feelings that are starting out then and there. There is a brotherhood that seeps out to the genera;l public and we are in love with that feeling.
When Jimi takes the stage and plays the American national anthem it is unclean, the dirtiness a sign of the time that was then. The whole thing a resonation of the space with the people. The anthem a mockery of the America that was then. Hendrix is at the end, the whole deal is dwindling by then, but, you feel the rebellion in them./
As the people walk away from the festival, they carry a lot of memories that would be theres forever. The people of the locality who helped them throughout the three days. Can you believe local people coming together to making the festival a success? For giving food to all of the people who are there? The statement goes out, “Our dream is breakfast for 400,000 people”
400,000 people, can you believe that? Can you believe that at all?
There is magic in that number. There is magic in the performances too. “Summertime Blues” from The Who, The music bleeds out in angst but, there is no sorrow about the angst. There is pain from the people. But, that pain isn’t what shines.
Woodstock becomes a statement, a broken statement. A statement about the people who are there who would personify another generation to come, but, then there was a lot of things that they would end up doing that would influence everyone.


“1989”, The Story of a girl….

Look we all have our share of heartbreaks, sometimes it comes in form of a landslide that hits you out of nowhere, sometimes it comes from falling in love with someone impossible, and sometimes it comes in completely unrelated spaces. There I was; sitting in the bitter November cold, in a show put up in the camp. Everyone had something to dance to, something to sing, and I was alone. It had been a long 10 days away from home and somehow everything had broken apart.
And this girl was on stage, all confidence, all beauty, singing “Love Story”.
That was the first time that I realised that heartbreak does not really require a reason, and sometimes it just is. It’s in the spark the burns through the tendons and leaves you awake watching the colors of the sky, it is in the little words spoken by the people when they are not aware of them.

I discovered Taylor when I came back home. She was all over the music networks, this girl with an acoustic guitar and no ensemble who was breaking all boundaries. I listened to “White Horse” a hundred times because my crush at the time said that it was important to her, I sang along to “You Belong With me” a thousand times or more, and I absorbed everything. There was something special about this woman, this woman who could walk out to the stage of the Grammies and sing a song that was pushing the boundaries of simplicity, a girl who had the chutzpah to bring in something like a love song album in the age of cynics. Plus, there was this deal, she was touching teenage hearts. We all had had our shares of Johns and Stephens and Drews, even if we didn’t know them like she did.

And soon enough she was growing again. I was growing too. When I was getting into Harry Potter again, falling in love with someone who would change my life, “Today was a Fairytale” was going out to the airwaves. Every word resonated with the lover’s soul, made me cry like a baby on the bad nights. When “Speak Now” dropped, I thought I had found someone who would always be “Mine”, and the “Sparks Fly” may as well have been my anthem.
She was growing right in front of us. Taylor had gone from this lone girl confronting the world to this girl who had learnt and was going to do something about it. The heart dripped and spilled open still, but, it did so slowly, it was more controlled, ever more growing. This was ana artist who had made the best album of her career up till then, twice now. Something that would have wow-ed even the greatest skeptic and elitist about the music.

“Red” came and passed us by. The songs were party anthems but, I was not touched, I was growing still. She seemed like a muse who was becoming distant, a muse who would not be there for long.

But, then here I am.

I listen to “1989” whenever I feel a bit out of space.

The heart is replaced by anger and poise. This is not the girl with the acoustic guitar this is a woman who can plant her heels on your chest while looking down on you. There was something about this confidence that was there, something that would make everyone turn around and take notice. After a long time, an artist had reached the peak of their careers, three times with three different albums.

You see. Swift is not an artist who I particularly fall in love with every time I hear her.
But, you know on the long nights when you think it could have been better, well, her songs make it better, and there’s that.

Here’s to you Becky, keep growing up.

Fighting the looming clouds

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Placebo Effect.”

One of my family members committed suicide a few days ago. She was really good in some ways, always jovial, always forgetting the silly things in life. She was someone you could get to know easily, and never forget. And now, well, she is gone, for better or for worse…

The deal about depression, about sadness, about the melancholy of the soul is, it consumes you from the inside. it becomes greater than the person you are, it becomes greater than anything that you have ever gone through. And it does it because we have to allow it to do so. Because no matter how much we fight them, our demons look better than the demons the people send to us. The hatred, the words, the scoldings, the beatings, all of that is worse when compared to this melancholy we hold. When we are depressed, we feel less, or perhaps we feel the most of all.

But, God I do not want to talk of depression now. Depression is done for, everything that kept me depressed is going away and that is good in some way or the other. And maybe I won’t ever have to deal with that sort of thing again. But, then I would like to have a cure for it when it does happen you know?

Yes, I may sound selfish.

“You wish to cure depression when cancer and AIDS are killing so many people every single day?”

Yes, I do.

The deal is, humankind would find a cure for cancer and AIDS, we are resilient enough for that. But, what about this disease which is eating us from inside? What about this disease that makes us a vegetable before our time has come?

We need to cure this, God we need to…

I ended up watching “he Breakfast Club” yesterday.And suddenly, I was taken again. Broken, battered, left on the front porch of a place that I didn’t want to visit, I tried to get up. I tried to look at the world less cynically, but, then I could not. No one really can look at the world as an optimist if they have seen the movie I guess.
Friendships get made, bridges get made, you traverse new roads and stuff, but, that is about it. You get to see the hollow of the world staring you down and you feel like a newly made babe facing off to something that is virtually impossible.

I wish I could escape this.