Saturday 15 August 2009

15 August 1969 Woodstock

Two days ago when I put pen to paper, I mean finger to plastic, I had not realised that I was quoting from Woodstock the song, by Joni Mitchell.

Simply, and honestly, I had surfaced from star-kissed slumber with the melody skipping in my memory.

I learnt yesterday, through a chance listening to the radio that this weekend is the fortieth anniversary of Woodstock the event. A timely and fortuitous twist of coincidental fate eh?

I would even say of cosmic magnitude….if I had been there……but I wasn’t……though I might have liked……so I won’t.

I only know one person who was at Yasgur’s Farm that day, a stunning lack considering how much I enjoy the music and legacy so much. His name is John -though not the John I wrote about recently.

I met him in a garden in Scotland where I was trying to learn, and simulate, fire stick juggling with three short wooden poles, around one end of which I had carefully attached bright red tape.

He watched me for a while, risking nothing and then said “I’ve just bought a unicycle, when you come back to London come around and we can learn it together”. A simple, if bizarre offer that led to a professional partnership of 3 years, and a friendship that endures despite our absence.

I subsequently discovered that we had both learnt from the same Zen Juggling Master – Michael Gelb, and had even been in the same room – me a struggling novice, he a hardened devotee of the professional circuit; he had juggled in the foyer of the Bob Dylan concert at Earl’s Court!!

I don’t think Dylan went to Woodstock; he certainly doesn’t feature on the disc I nostalgically bought yesterday though maybe he was in the crowd chanting “NO RAIN” with the rest of them when the storms threatened.

Joan Baez certainly was, singing on the official film soundtrack to prove it - and sounding after all these years fresh, committed and doing something she loves.

I met Joan Baez two years ago, backstage in San Francisco though I wouldn’t claim to know her (so I don’t include her in my fifth paragraph above) and she probably has no memory of me.

She was dancing on a table at the time, not drunk, certainly barefooted and as full of child and joy as is possible for someone so ageless.

I’m sure that if I had been lucky enough to get to know her then I would have found the time as rewarding as my time working with John was; i owe him so much, he helped me grow up.

So I guess I have MET two people who were in those fields forty years ago. They share something that will be evident for anyone else lucky to have met them or to do so in the future- striking, open warmth of human friendship and love.

Which is maybe what it was all about?


Dave said...

Hi Chris.

Nice appreciation of John. I hope he gets to read it. Nice man and fond memories of him and you at a long, long ago Glastonbury as medieval beggars juggling rats and looking suitably pox ridden and very, very funny.

Both of you were an inspiration to me and I was staggered and flattered to find myself working with you quite a short time later. You inspired my life's direction and that intense time was very special. It's all a big, mad, spiralling haze now but lots of great memories still shine through. Thanks and thanks for the blog. Better every day! :-)


popps said...

Hi Dave, i missed not seeing you this summer and i miss the intensity of the time we (me and you) worked together.
It is a mad spiralling haze and maybe the years add to that sensation but time then was so unquestioning.
I didn't go to Woodstock but the festivals that we went to together...... well i would be happy to be there with you now.
I'll make sure John gets to read it , i'll send him it in a letter.
And i'll update your review, which you may or may not have seen in the sidebar!

Martin Mackenzie said...

Enjoyed your latest 'blogget'?!
re Joan dancing on the table. It's what matters to you, You the Individual, at that Moment, (God, that sounds so crass) but I can't express it otherwise. It's of the moment. That's all there is, and these people you and your readers love, live for that. There's the lesson. Zen spells it out but one needn't follow Buddha to benefit from its simple yet difficult premise.

popps said...

Martin, i am honoured that you are reading this and when i come over for Denise's birthday on Tuesday i'll bring my Woodstock soundtrack and we can get up on the table together and do our best Joe Cocker impressions.