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I lived through and near some of the greatest music of my generation, but I have to admit that I had no sense of history about any of it at the time. I lived only a few miles from Shea Stadium during The Beatles historic concert in 1965. But I wasn’t into their music yet, because I was only eight years old. I think my favorite song then was Alan Sherman’s Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah. Even if I’d wanted to go, they were performing past my bedtime. 

I lived in Manhattan in the late ’70s during the hey-day of Studio 54. While some of my friends hung out there and often invited me to go along, I never did. I hated disco music that much. 

I lived in the East Village just a few blocks from CBGB’s when it was giving birth to punk rock. I used to walk by it all the time but I never went in. Honestly, I was a little scared of all those leather jacketed, hard core looking punks. But none of those missed opportunities can compare to when I went to the most famous concert of all and whined about it the whole time.

I was twelve years old when my mother and father took me to Woodstock. 

That’s right, my middle-aged parents took me to Woodstock. You see, my sister was sixteen and was dying to go but my parents wouldn’t let her on her own. Since they (and nobody else) had any idea what they were getting into, they decided to make a family trip out of it. Ha! I have to laugh whenever I remember that. The traffic was the worst I’ve ever seen. It looked like they were evacuating the city. We must have parked miles from the concert stage and had to walk the rest of the way. Once you got in, there was no getting out. We had no food, no water and the few concession stands they had were overwhelmed. The only thing you could easily buy were drugs.

Remember that I was just a boy at the time and was more into G.I. Joe than Joe Cocker.

I could care less about any of the acts that were performing. Honestly, I hadn’t even heard of most of them. So there I was in the middle of the most historic rock concert of my lifetime and I couldn’t have been more miserable. My parents weren’t exactly having a good time, either. We were clearly not the target demo for this event. The show started several hours late because most of the acts were stuck in the same traffic that we were. Finally, the first act came onto the stage. Was it Jimi Hendrix? Janis Joplin? The Who? No. It was fucking Richie Havens who, as I recall, opened with Freedom. Remember that song? Well, in case you don’t, let me remind you just how annoying it is. This is how it starts…

Freedom, Freedom, Freedom, Freedom, Freedom, Freedom, Freedom, Freedom, Freedom Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
Sometimes I feel like a motherless child

Thanks in-part to those mind-numbingly repetitive lyrics, I felt like a motherless child who just wanted his freedom. So after one song, we left Woodstock.

My mother & me at Woodstock. (I’m the miserable one in the middle.)

I used to get a lot of mileage out of that story.

Some people didn’t believe me when I told them my mother and father took me to Woodstock. Everyone thought that I had the coolest parents and that I must have been the coolest kid. (I left out the part about being such a whiny baby.) But somewhere after the turn of the century the reaction I got started to change. Instead of always hearing, “Wow! You were at Woodstock?” I started hearing, “Wow! How the fuck old are you?” I eventually had to stop telling the story.

About The Author:

Richard Basis

Richard Basis

Richard Basis is a self-professed “Late Baby Boomer” who embraces the fact that he’s getting old. He was born and raised in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Richard spent the majority of his career in entertainment advertising as a writer, producer and creative director of TV promos and movie trailers. Now he is a valued member of the Manopause Team, a copywriter and blogger for fun and profit.

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