Music or memory? Which comes first? Do you get a sudden glimpse of the past while listening to music? Or do you remember the music only after recalling the times gone by? I think for all of us it’s a little of both. Add in an odor that curls in your nose—that’ll take you back as well. Sometimes, when I find myself in heavy humidity, pressing itself down into my shoulders, that languorous late summer smell of decaying leaves ready to drop and turn to dust, I flash back to those times I sat with five hundred thousand like-minded souls on the grass in that natural amphitheater, then later in the mud, rain coming down in windy torrents. There are many ways to gaze into the past, not the least of which are friends to help you along. Yes, I remember it well. I garnered memories for the days of future past. And then, the music started. We were one.
Richie Havens and Frodo
When I hear Richie Havens, I’m immediately transported to Woodstock in the summer of 1969. Sitting beside my friends on blankets while joints were being passed around, jugs of cheap wine and beer—all were in ample supply. Amazed at the size of the crowd. I had never seen anything like it. It swelled like a huge wave crashing in on a beach. I don’t know how Roger was coping. He was lying under his blanket, arms around his dog’s neck. The bottle of scotch was empty, lying on its side in the grass beside him.