For the past three days, I have been immersed in yard work of all kinds. Mowing, trimming, planting, and with each day becoming hotter and more humid, it’s been hellish. But what beauty to behold once it’s done. Clean edges, green, dandelion-free ground cover, sumptuous colors of all kinds brought into view via freshly planted flowers. It took work, hot and sweaty labor.
I knew I would have little or very few slices of time to sit down and write the blog. So I decided to delve into the annals of music history and bring back some performances from some of the best musicians and singers of the 60s. And where else could that be found but in the archives of Woodstock Concert footage.
Woodstock. For those of you who are too young to remember, Woodstock was the penultimate in music festivals held in upstate New York on August 15-17, 1969. It was conceived as “Three Days of Peace and Music.” “Woodstock was a product of a partnership between John Roberts, Joel Rosenman, Artie Kornfield and Michael Lang. Their idea was to make enough money from the event to build a recording studio near the arty New York town of Woodstock.” (This Day in History)
The crowds of hippies, yippies, music lovers and stoners grew to over 500,000 as they kept coming and coming to the 600-acre dairy farm in Bethel, New York – some 50 miles from Woodstock – owned by Max Yasgur. Fearing that no one would be able to control the crowds, the festival was open to the public for free. No one, not Roberts, not Rosenman, not Kornfield, not Lang, certainly not Mr. Yasgur, could have ever envisioned what was taking place before their eyes.
Janis Joplin, Arlo Guthrie, Joe Cocker, Joan Baez, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Sly and the Family Stone, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Richie Havens, The Who and many more bands and solo artists performed for the thick throng of music thrill seekers that would never be duplicated in our lifetime – all for the love of peace and music. Woodstock would go down in history celebrating peace, love and music times 100.
Can you conceive what would happen if half a million cigar smokers showed up in a field in upstate New York today to revel in the freedom to enjoy the choice to smoke cigars? Could you even imagine that many men and women who know that their rights are being stripped away by gathering together to say that we have had enough regulation and it’s time for the government to STOP!
Once I would have said, “I can’t.” I’d love to believe that such a phenomenon could happen. And now I can. This atrocity of legislation has brought cigar smokers, retail shops, and associations together. The unity of cigar smokers should be no different than the unity of music lovers. The latter are people who all love and appreciate the mixed sounds of pre-arranged notes to produce some of the classic music that will be with us until the end of time. The former are those who love the many blends of tobaccos that are rolled into exquisitely essence-filled cigars that have been around for decades, and with the vision of new brands being introduced every month.
Without this freedom to congeal and enjoy what we love, be it music or cigars, we are no longer independent but rather panicked lemmings that tumble over the ragged cliffs unable or unwilling to find their own way.
Woodstock proved that peope can get together to listen to music with peace and love – peace and love (thank you Ringo). What, where and when will it be that people will join together en masse to smoke cigars and show unity for what they love, and by default, make a statement? That moment in history could be closer than you think.
I thought I would end with the words and sounds of Englishman, Joe Cocker, known for his gritty voice, spasmodic body movements in performance, and definitive versions of popular songs. And his devotion to his craft caused by his love of music.
Joe Cocker sang at Woodstock and stunned the crowd with his version of “With A Little Help From My (our) Friends.” That’s all cigar smokers really need, isn’t it? HIT IT JOE!