Forty years ago, during the darkest days of the Vietnam War, seekers of peace and love gathered at Woodstock. They came because they shared a common belief in the power of love, a common hope that music could heal America’s wounds and show it the way.
I came upon a child of God,
He was walking along the road,
I asked him, where are you going,
And this he told me.
I’m going on down to Yasgur’s farm,
I’m going to join in a rock and roll band,
I’m going to camp out on the land,
And get my soul free.
Then can I walk beside you,
I have come here to lose the smog,
And I feel like a cog in something turning.
Well maybe it’s just the time of year,
Or maybe it’s the time of man,
I don’t know who l am,
But life is for learning.
By the time they got to Woodstock,
They were half a million strong.
And everywhere there was song and celebration,
And they dreamed they saw the bombers,
Riding shotgun in the sky,
Turning into butterflies,
Above our nation.
The dream of Woodstock didn’t come true. 40 years later, NSA surveillance satellites are riding shotgun in the sky, song and celebration are hard to find, the specter of war crimes and corruption and economic disintegration hangs above our nation. America cynically rejected everything the Woodstock generation believed in. Joni Mitchell’s song of peace and love could have been the anthem of a nation seeking redemption, but it survives only as a nostalgic reminder of what might have been.