My first time at Woodstock

Typing away in Saugerties.

Typing away in Saugerties.

My former colleague at the big daily Bill LaRue dug up a golden oldie from his files the other day and sent me into flurry of memories.

That’s me, arms covered with muck, working hard on the old-fashioned laptop at Woodstock ’94 in Saugerties, N.Y.

LaRue and I were the two reporters from the Syracuse Newspapers features desk sent to cover the first re-enactment of the most famous music festival ever. His beat was TV. I was the music writer and critic. Our work back then was published in both the morning Post-Standard and evening Herald-Journal. And let’s not forget the big daddy of them all, the Sunday Herald American. Which, in non-newspaper terms, meant this: We both wrote our backsides off during those four days we spent camped out in our tents among the half-million or so music lovers in the farmland in upstate New York.

If I recall correctly, I ended up with about 20 stories published about the event, from reviews of the music to news stories to people profiles of fans I found from the Syracuse area.

It was a muddy weekend. Water fell from the sky and laid around in thick blankets everywhere. The showers were outdoor, public and relatively ineffective.

My buzz phrase in the media tent became: You don’t cover Woodstock, it covers you.

I was near the stage for the Green Day set that turned into a mud-flinging melee between the power trio and the fans up front. When the documentary coverage of the festival again put hosted by original Woodstock promoter Michael Lang came out, I even spotted myself in the footage.

I didn’t sleep hardly a wink. I remember cranking out copy in the wee hours, and Australian journalists on deadline admiring my grit after they filed their stories.

I recall the hair on my arms standing on end during the late night Metallica set as I pressed against a grandstand with thousands of fist-thrusting fans.

Yup. Enter Sandman in my dreams.

I remember how it all made me wish I had been a couple of years older 25 years back, so I could have attended the original at Max Yasgur’s farm in Bethel, N.Y., some 20 miles and a generation removed from this one.

I recall how I crawled into bed at 3 a.m. after driving four hours back to Syracuse when it was all said and done, and how my editor woke me up with a call at 7 a.m. to ask how soon I could get in to file a wrap-up piece. I never loathed a boss more than that guy at that moment, before or since.

Do you have any memories of the original Woodstock, the 25th anniversary concert, or the third one, in 1999? What’s the biggest festival you’ve attended, and what did you think of it? Do you think there should be a Woodstock IV, and why or why not?

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22 thoughts on “My first time at Woodstock

  1. That is cool Mark. I’ve never been to any large concerts (50,000 would be about the biggest – and you guys get more than that out for a college football game). Large crowds make me uneasy Mark. I can tolerate them if need be – like Christmas mall shopping or fairs or sports events – but they put me on edge and exiting becomes my goal. i’ve seen the documentaries on Woodstock and the music is amazing – but I’d rather sit at home and listen after the fact – and of course read about it in articles done by hard-working scribes like yourself. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m not a fan of festivals. I think it’s a time thing. Even when I was young and wild, I was never wild enough to spend a whole day at it, or go 2-3 days in a row. More like one night, a day off, and another evening. I need downtime and quiet. That being said, there’s a magic in the music when people jam for days.

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  3. Great photo! How very cool that you were there covering the events and working your @ss off for your boss! It does not surprise me that you did what you had to do, always the conscientious and hard working polish man. LOL

    Like

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