8/12/2007

A few acres of history for sale

I saw this story in this morning’s New York Times and felt a little bit of – I don’t know if nostalgia is the right word since I’ve never been there – but maybe the sense of the passing of yet another rock and roll landmark.

BETHEL, N.Y., Aug. 9 — Inside an old wood-beamed farmhouse with picture windows on a hillside here, the chirp of the telephone pierced the air roughly every five minutes Thursday morning with another inquiry about the sale of “Yasgur’s Farm,” a house and a piece of land that the 1969 Woodstock music festival made famous, at least among members of the scattered tribe of a certain time.

Woodstock, the music festival, was actually held in Bethel.

“That’s right, that’s right, we’re moving, permanently, to Phoenix,” said Roy Howard, 73, speaking into the phone and pacing back and forth along the length of a kitchen counter that was covered with papers, bills and unopened solicitations from AARP.

He and his companion, Jeryl Abramson, 53, have lived with this piece of the Woodstock legacy for two decades. They have tried in their way to be good conservators: For more than a decade, beginning around the 25th anniversary of the festival in 1994, they held Woodstock “reunions” that drew musicians and a few hundred to a few thousand spectators, who camped on their 100-acre homestead for the three days in August near the anniversary dates of Aug. 15, 16 and 17.

The singers Melanie and Country Joe McDonald, both members of the original Woodstock lineup, performed at some of them. Lots of lesser-knowns came and made good music. A few people had their weddings during those weekends. People Ms. Abramson and Mr. Howard call “the hippie tribe” found a spiritual center there, they said.

But Ms. Abrahamson and Mr. Howard are getting older. They have had a long-running, sometimes bitter conflict with the town about permits and no-camping rules. And for a host of other reasons, maybe just like a lot of people in their cohort, they are ready to sell the house and retire to the Southwest. They put it up for sale this week. They are asking $8 million.
In a way it seems a little blasphemous that this property should be put up for sale as the festival’s 37th anniversary approaches and as we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the “Summer of Love.” I hope that whoever buys the land keeps an open mind about owning it, but doesn't build condos or make it a tourist mecca.

I’ve got a couple old Jimi Hendrix gems from the Jimi Hendrix: Woodstock disk, which was released Aug. 20, 1994, again, right around the Woodstock anniversary. I’m sure there’s nothing here you haven’t heard before, but listen and enjoy again. “Hear My Train a Comin’,” a 9-minute long version with an extended solo, then something titled only “Woodstock Improvisation” a freestyle instrumental jam featuring a Stratocaster sounding the way only Jimi could make it sound.

Hear My Train a Comin’ (Get My Heart Back Together).mp3
Woodstock Improvisation.mp3

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1 Comments:

At 3:52 PM , Blogger d. chedwick bryant said...

Check out the beautiful Bethel Woods Center for the arts built on the actual site of the Origimal Woodstock Concert. It is an amazing place !

 

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