While Jimmy Hendrix’s guitar broke the silence, reaching over 400,000 pairs of ears gathered together on the enormous esplanade at Woodstock in 1969, an erotic legend for the history books was born. Covered in mud and rain, the crowd exceeded expectations, and the hippies wound up gathering for free, fending for themselves on the hunt for food, as one of its organizers, Michael Lang recounts in The Road to Woodstock.
Peace, love and music
But amongst the craziness of music and LSD, of peace and love, not only was the mother of all festivals born, but also the hippy culture, forever solidifying its existence. That culture today, 50 years later, is still present in human rights fights and continues to be a brilliant part of contemporary society.
That “be kind” by the Grateful Dead was the synopsis of a new countercultural, free, peaceful sensitivity; inherited from the beatniks of Ginsberg, Kerouac and the Whitmanian Gary Snyder. From that, they would also inherit an up-close inspection of consumerism, praising a voluntary simplicity rooted in spirituality and environmentalism. Many of its deeds could be described in The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe, drawing on anecdotes from Ken Kesey and his psychedelic trips.
Nature, freedom and green-living
The minimalism of today, the enough is enough culture, conscious consumption and an environmentalist approach to nature and life has been built on roots established in those summers of love and also in those communes, of which the counterculture of Ibizan freedom is a peripheral example.
The trips and a nomadic vision of life, together with gender equality that gave birth to the current feminist fight, also began to spread over those days full of drugs and decibels in Sullivan County.
A prejudiced legacy
Today, while opportunism hopes to revive that festival 50 years later, with Hendrix and Jerry Garcia gone, the hippy spirit lives strongly on within hedonistic and alternative subcultures. One thing cannot be understood without the other, even though the word “hippy” still carries with it lots of derogatory prejudices, like that infamous definition offered by Ronald Reagan: “A hippy is someone with hair like Tarzan, that walks like Jane and smells like Chita.” Thank you for everything, hippies!