One didn’t simply go to Woodstock: one lived through it. In August 1969, the
Woodstock Festival was the largest counterculture event ever staged, attracting some
500,000 people and featuring many of the country’s top acts. Two decades later,
Woodstock has come to mean more than just “three days of fun and music”; it
symbolizes a time of community, exuberance, and intensity since lost. Woodstock
festival gave power to the youth, united people of all ages, races, and sexes, and defined
a generation, making it one of the most important musical events of all time.
In order to understand the impact and importance of the Woodstock Festival one
must first examine the society that preceded the 1960’s and set the stage so to speak for
the events of the Woodstock Festival. The end of World War II brought thousands of
young servicemen back to America to pick up their lives and start new families in new
home and new jobs. With energy never before experienced, American industry
expanded to meet peacetime needs. Americans began buying goods not available during
the war, which created corporate expansion and jobs. Growth was everywhere. The
baby boom was underway. Part of the what happened in the 1950’s with increased
employment and income, families had more money to buy things. People could afford
single family dwellings and suburbia was born . In the 1950’s a big change happened in
public education. In 1954, Chief Justice Earl Warren and other members of the Supreme
Court ruled that separate facilities for blacks did not make those facilities equal according
to the Constitution . Integration of the public classroom came about across the nation as
a result of this action.
Perhaps one of the things which most characterize the 1950’s was a strong
element of conservatism and anticommunist felling which ran throughout much of
society. The phrase “under God” was added to the pledge of Allegiance. Religion was
linked with anti-communism mind-set. Fifties clothing was conservative. Men wore
grey flannel suits and women wore dresses. Male and female stereotypes were strongly
reinforced, girls played with Barbie Dolls and boys played with guns.
When the 1950’s are mentioned, the first type of music to come to most people’s
mind is rock ‘n roll. Developed from a blend of Southern blues and gospel music with an
added strong back beat, this type of music was popular with teenagers who were trying to
break out of the mainstream conservative American middle class mold . Popular musical
artists such as Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis set the groundwork for what was to
come in the rock music of the 1960’s.
Another element of American culture and society that must be examined to
understand the 1960’s is the onset of the war in Vietnam. The Vietnam War was the
longest military conflict in U.S. history. The hostilities in Vietnam,...