Wisdom from Woodstock: Lessons Learned from the Greatest Music Festival Ever

by | Sep 7, 2022 | Music

When the Woodstock music festival was held in the summer of 1969, nobody knew the significance it would have on musical history. For over 50 years people have been talking about how influential and important those “three days of peace & music” were and how it changed the entire musical landscape. 

During the weekend of August 15-18, 1969, over 500,000 people flocked to Max Yasger’s dairy farm in Bethell, New York, to watch 32 musical acts perform. The popularity of the event caused celebrations to commemorate the festival for years, most recently for the 50th anniversary. 

There were many lessons learned from that experience, and there are plenty more that we continue to learn from it today. What can we apply to our lives today that we learned then? Read on to find out! 

Unity

The massive undertaking that was Woodstock was only possible because many different people decided to work together. The event was planned by several producers, including Michael Lang, Artie Komfeld, Joel Rosenman, and John P. Roberts. They needed bands to play, people to attend, and food for attendees. All of these needed to come together for the festival to be successful. Everybody needed to do their jobs in order to pull it off, and because they did, history was made. 

Unity became a central ideal for the entire weekend, as people embraced one another not as strangers, but as neighbors. They worked together as a community so that peace, love, and music would be the most important message, and one that we still see some 50 years later. 

Perseverance

Bill and Sandy Hawkins at Woodstock.

Woodstock was not without its challenges. Just about everything that could have gone wrong, did go wrong. Bands ended up pulling out of the lineup last minute. Far more people showed up than expected (they had prepared for about 50,000 attendees and over 400,00 showed up!), and there were limited resources like food and shelter. On top of all of that there were off and on rain showers all weekend. 

Despite these setbacks, the festival went on to become the famous event it is still known as today. The positive experience of the attendees far outweighed the potential setbacks. People continued to attend, the music kept playing, and memories were still made. Ask any person who was there about their experience, and chances are, they aren’t going to be talking about the problems they faced. They are going to recall what was great about Woodstock. 

Do What’s Right

Did you know that Woodstock was originally planned as a profit-making venture? There were going to be fences around the venue as well as ticket booths at the front gate. The producers were planning on this up until a few days before the event, but when people started showing up, they knew that it needed to be a free event. 

Sometimes you need to prioritize what is right for the world instead of what is right for you. They could have called the entire event off, or even postponed it, but they didn’t. They knew that the event and its message was too special, and making it free reinforced that even more. Do what’s right and rewarding things will happen to you in return. 

Bill and Sandy Hawkins in front of a bus at Woodstock.

Rock On

To this day, people continue to look at Woodstock as a symbol of peace, love, and inspiration. The music was flowing, ideas were born, and a community was forming. It was an incredible time to celebrate, and even decades later we can be reminded of the amazing lessons learned. 

Curious to learn even more about the history of Woodstock? Check out our blog “A Rock ’n’ Roll Dream: Reliving Woodstock.”

Someone holds a paper airplane with the sun glaring in the background.
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