Aquarian Angst: Woodstock at 50

By David Eaton

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Woodstock music festival.

Flashing back to that “summer of love,” I’m reminded of two iconic before-and-after photos: one depicting a sea of humanity reveling in the music of their idols on Max Yasgur’s farm in upstate New York, the other revealing the horrible mess of mud and refuse left behind.

Juxtaposed, these two images are emblematic of a generation that grew up on rock and roll, loved to get high, party hard, and indulge in “free love,” often with reckless abandon. Living the Bohemian lifestyle of carefree license, unfettered by “traditional values,” became the fantasy of an entire generation — and music was at the vortex of that counterculture revolution.

The Woodstock generation waxed poetic about peace, love and universal brotherhood, and music was deemed a leading force ushering in a utopian era in which greed, selfishness and all manner of “plastic” values would be expunged. John Lennon and Yoko Ono implored us to “give peace a chance.” The hopes and dreams of an Aquarian Age, a time when “love would steer the stars,” and “we’ll study war no more” would become a reality — or so we thought.

Our love of music became a quasi-religion. “Make love, not war” was our credo, sex and drugs our sacraments, and rock ‘n roll was the music that accompanied the liturgy. In spite of our New Age optimism about making the planet a better place for our children and “getting back to the garden,” the spirit of rebellion and defiance was pervasive, and the music of the era reflected that rebelliousness.

In retrospect, Woodstock may have been more of a moment rather than a movement. As that “after” photo might suggest, the Woodstock generation has been rather messy in the ensuing decades with regard to love, life and its pursuit of happiness.

In spite of the Aquarian optimism, any honest assessment regarding the ramifications of the “free love generation” reveals many unfortunate circumstances due to a plethora of missed opportunities, moral confusion and “sell outs” to the very hypocrisies that the counterculture generation decried.

The naïve idea that life without restrictions and responsibilities was the path to Nirvana now seems imprudent in the extreme, and there are “messes” everywhere as a result. As we question why the world seems so hopelessly lost 50 years hence, it is Mahatma Gandhi who provides sagacious insight to our query: “If you think the world is all wrong, remember that it contains people like you.”

A central ethos of the social consciousness in the 1960s was the outright disdain for authority figures. “Don’t trust anyone over 30” (an axiom attributed to UC Berkeley activist Jack Weinberg) became a popular counterculture mantra as the groundswell of liberal populism permeated everything from politics to the media to the entertainment industry.

“I am he/as you are he/as you are me/and we are all together,” according to a tripped-out John Lennon. Well, yes, we all had a hand in creating this mess and we all bear some responsibility as adults to clean it up. Regarding the deleterious effects of the 1960s counterculture, columnist Jonah Goldberg observes:

“It is no coincidence that the post-World War II era of peace, prosperity and conformity largely created the idea of the teenager. The buttoned-down 1950s gave adolescents something to rebel against. Similarly, the peace and prosperity of the post-Cold War world created the adolescent forty-year-old. The comfort of prosperity leads…to a cultural backlash against the established order and bourgeois values.”

Sociocultural liberation, especially sexual liberation, was seen as a cosmic “coming of age” where people would be free from the inhibitions put upon them by their parents and their respective catechisms. Decades earlier, Nietzsche and his sexual revolutionary brethren advocated similar ideas with regard to sexual liberation. (The term “sexual liberation” is attributed to neo-Marxist philosopher Wilhelm Reich, and it was his Frankfurt School colleague, Herbert Marcuse, who advocated “polymorphous perversity” and coined the phrase, “make love, not war.”)

The folly of this circumstance is typified in Stephen Still’s musical ode to sexual objectification, “Love the One You’re With”:

Don’t be angry, don’t be sad
and don’t sit cryin’ over good times you’ve had
There’s a girl right next to you
and she’s just waitin’ for something to do.
And there’s a rose in the fisted glove
and the eagle flies with the dove
and if you can’t be with the one you love, honey
love the one you’re with, love the one you’re with.

Love the one you’re with, no matter what the consequences. The Woodstock generation was into Tantric sexuality but without the spirituality. As moral virtue declined, our culture became all the more coarse, hedonistic and secular. Wasn’t all that Transcendental Meditation, free sex and drug use supposed to enlighten us (“open your mind, man!”), and help us avoid the trappings and proclivities that made the world so cruel and callous in the first place? And wasn’t music — sweet, sweet music — going to soothe all the savagery and supplant the alienation that made living in this world so horrid and hideous with something more virtuous and decent?

A depiction of an aerial view of the Woodstock Festival in August 1969, which attracted over 400,000 people.

Because musicians were thought to possess a high-minded and progressive view of life’s great mysteries, what they composed and sang about was increasingly viewed as an expression of contemporary social gospel. Anti-establishment expression in music wasn’t the sole province of rock or soul music.

Eventually, Broadway would get into the act with the production of that paean to tribal love and counterculture ethics, Hair. Leonard Bernstein’s Mass, commissioned by Jacqueline Kennedy for the opening of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC in 1971, provided an aura of establishment legitimacy to the Aquarian ethos as one of classical music’s most iconic figures joined the parade of progressive, anti-establishment antagonists. Mass, which employs a rock band in the scoring, is decidedly more musical theater than highbrow art music, but it created quite a buzz for its unabashed foray into the realm of popular art and its decidedly Bohemian approach to Catholic liturgical music.

The continual objectification of that which has intrinsic spiritual dimensions has had deleterious effects on our culture, and this became antipodal to our Aquarian fantasies. Music and sexuality were such casualties in this regard. The adolescent predilection for instant gratification in our live-for-the-moment culture, combined with crass commercialism (which the counterculture detested), fostered a condition where a good deal of popular music became increasingly shallow and degenerate, and without much in the way of any redeeming social value (e.g., Miley Cyrus as salacious paramour, or gangsta rap).

Moreover, any objection or critique of the destructive effects of popular culture is often met with charges of intolerance or insensitivity, as if there is no legitimate or rational concern about how popular music often succumbs to our most base instincts. The emerging censoriousness regarding moral and ethical concerns that too often permeates the progressive mindset has had the effect of becoming a buffer against legitimate skepticism and any corrective sensibilities.

In her iconic song, “Woodstock,” songstress Joni Mitchell sings:

We are stardust
Billion year old carbon
We are golden
Caught in the devil’s bargain
And we’ve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden.

Joni Mitchell and “Woodstock”

♫ A film clip of Joni Mitchell’s first public performance of her song, “Woodstock,” at the Big Sur Folk Festival in mid-September 1969. She was invited to perform live at Woodstock a month earlier, but her manager, David Geffen, asked her to remain at her hotel due to Mitchell’s scheduled TV taping of The Dick Cavett Show the day after the festival. Thus, her perspective of Woodstock, she said, was of an observer, not a performer. Mitchell later wrote: “Woodstock, for some reason, impressed me as being a modern miracle, like a modern-day fishes-and-loaves story. For a herd of people that large to cooperate so well, it was pretty remarkable and there was tremendous optimism. So I wrote the song ‘Woodstock’ out of these feelings, and the first three times I performed it in public, I burst into tears, because it brought back the intensity of the experience and was so moving.” 

Getting “back to the garden” requires a serious reorientation of our priorities, and as Mitchell notes in her lyrics, recognizing the spiritual cause of our entrapment is the necessary first step in the process. In “Sympathy for the Devil,” Mick Jagger sings about the devil’s clever deception in diverting our attention away from the causal dimension of our fallen nature. According to Mick, what’s puzzling us is the nature of the devil’s game. Understanding the original nature of creation and our responsibilities as citizens (and artists), as well as understanding the course and motivation of the human fall, will allow us to initiate the corrective measures needed to restore that lost garden.

In the Cheon Seong Gyeong (Book 10, “Philosophy of Peace”), Dr. Sun Myung Moon states:

“The ultimate goal of artists, and those who work with the arts, is to reach the world of God’s heart. God, the Creator, wants to feel boundless joy through all the different things He personally created with His own hands, one by one, as works of art. God’s heart is such that He wants to give again after He has given. After doing things for others He wants to do more for them, and even after investing unconditionally He wants to forget what He has done. That heart is the basis of the world of true love. God’s ideal of creation for the created world arose from that heart. The starting point of art is the desire to represent that heart.

“Accordingly, in the world of art there are no national boundaries. The purpose of art is not to serve as a tool of an ideology or an agenda. Its fundamental principles are harmony and unity. Divisiveness and conflict are fruits of fallen nature. Therefore the world of art demonstrates universal characteristics in all directions, bringing the East to understand the West and the West to accept the East.”

In this context, we should view our creative endeavors with an eye on motivation and intent. Ego, greed, self-aggrandizement, nihilism, and secularism are anathema to the ideals that our founders articulated in the Principle of Creation. In many respects, the Woodstock generation didn’t take enough stock in the ethic of living for a higher purpose in concert with God as described by our founders.

Regarding issues of social responsibility, many in the Woodstock generation became obfuscators and prevaricators, more willing to talk-the-talk than walk-the-walk — or live-the-lyric — at least not to the degree necessary to actualize the social gospel that we sang about in our songs or protested about in our social and political activism. In fact, by assailing important foundational enterprises such as family and religion, entities that historically instructed society in the ways of compassion, self-discipline, charity, and community cooperation, we unwittingly participated in our own cultural demise. As we are finding out in our autumn years, that kind of social irresponsibility has lasting consequences.

Vincent van Gogh asserted that “the best way to know God was to love many things.” But to love often takes courage, especially on an Aquarian scale. Legendary cellist and humanitarian, Pablo Casals, believed that each person has great potential goodness but it required courage to be good and decent in a world beset by selfishness. For Casals, music wasn’t just for his personal fulfillment: “Music must serve a purpose; it must be part of something larger than itself, a part of humanity.” Artists need to fully grasp what Casals, and our founders, instructed.

Is it too late to make a difference? For those of us who decades ago experienced an epiphany regarding higher consciousness and the possibility of fulfilling the Aquarian ideal of peace and love, doing nothing ought not be an option. If, as Michael Jackson suggested, “we are the world” and “the ones who’ll make a brighter day,” then yes, “let’s start giving” in the attempt to recover the glory of that lost garden.♦

David Eaton has been Music Director of the New York City Symphony since 1985. In addition to his conducting career, he has been an active composer, arranger and producer with 64 original compositions and over 800 arrangements and transcriptions to his credit. One of his recent compositions, “70 and Counting!” was performed at the United Nations as part of its 70th Anniversary concert in 2015. Another recent composition, “Sing Praise, Halleluia!” was recently performed in Korea. In 2016, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by UTS.

First in a series. The AU Blog invites from readers their own article-length submissions reflecting on the 50th anniversary of Woodstock, to be published on our site through August.

Photo at top: The iconic 1969 poster for the Woodstock Music & Art Fair, as it was officially called.

28 thoughts on “Aquarian Angst: Woodstock at 50

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  1. That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for rock and roll.

    It is a big difference if you comment on the Woodstock Festival from hindsight or from the view of 1969. On our German black and white TV, the world was divided into East and West, the two blocs seemed to have been cemented into our brain. Every day Brezhnev or Gromyko (“Mr. Nyet”), who had brought down Dubcek in Czechoslovakia, seemed to rule over a frozen empire. Our fathers were termed “authoritarian characters” because they had marched into WW II and had been involved with the Holocaust, they had invaded every single neighboring country. Quite naturally you long for the spring breeze to come in and it came in.

    My particular hero was my second cousin who came home from demonstrations, threw his “sandwich” into the corner and boasted proudly of how he got hit by the police, then smoked his ciggies and drank his beer. He had a beautiful blonde Russian girlfriend, travelled to the USA and smoked pot. Was he the role model as father couldn’t be?

    My mother, from a traditional Catholic family, said: Before “the pill” it had been “no sex before marriage”, but now this Jesuit had said: “If you sleep with someone out of love, it is okay.” Frankly, I am no longer sure. Oswald Kolle’s films about sex enlightenment were everywhere, and people were no longer interested in confession and holy communion.

    The new role model came from the USA (people who could land on the moon!) and Great Britain. People like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Doors, Led Zeppelin, Creedence Clearwater Revival. People like Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper in “Easy Rider” or Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman in “Midnight Cowboy”. They were avant garde. You had to decide which side you wanted to be on, it was “us against them”. Woodstock, first of all, was the album you heard with your friends. Unforgettable how Alvin Lee played “I’m Going Home” or Santana’s “Soul Sacrifice” or Joe Cocker’s “With a Little Help from My Friends” just like a national anthem. I was 15 years old and had fallen in love with Angela Winkler in “Hunting Scenes from Bavaria” and I thought to experience a love affair as Barry Ryan describes in “Eloise” was the pinnacle.

  2. My aforementioned second cousin, Richard, writes (I sent him this article):

    “But, yes, it works (to love the one you’re with). Nowadays you can, from 50 years distance, talk a lot of meaning over it and crystallize ideological garbage out of it. In my opinion, what matters are the individually effective sustainabilities which were and still are active in one’s biography of the event called ‘Woodstock’ as smoldering elementary particles, so to speak. I can only talk from the perspective of a little foot soldier of the psychedelic movement, then traveling in the province of Wuerzburg, when the jacks are all in their boxes and the clowns have all gone to bed. But only then.”

  3. Dr. Eaton,

    All true. But it’s quite interesting that while it was “corrupting” the youth in the West, rock music played not a small role in taking down the communist regimes behind the Iron Curtain. If you can, try to watch the 2014 documentary “Free to Rock: How Rock & Roll Helped End the Cold War”. God works in mysterious ways.

    Regarding the motivation and intent of the art we make, we can and should try to purify our motivations. In reality, we still fall short of the high ideals laid out in the Principle. People respond to authenticity; they tend to sense when an artist is not true to his character. Should we then wait until we’re perfect before bringing our art into the public? My answer would be no. We can hone our skills and character in the process. And sometimes, luckily, even immature artists hit gold.

    1. Tommi,

      You are making a very important point by emphasizing authenticity. Yes, audiences and people in general can sense when the artist or he/she who offers his talent is authentic. And the better the talent and skill has been trained and developed, the better — as long as skills do not diminish authenticity.

      I would add another point that I observe with myself as the recipient/spectator of someone’s art: if the artist offers his/her presentation for the joy of others without being too self-conscious about who he/she is and how he/she comes across, it touches my innermost heart and soul, even if the piece of art isn’t all perfect externally.

      And if the artist makes his/her offer to our creator God, who is the source of the artist’s talents and skills, the offer resonates with eternity.

  4. Ah, before my time. I was just a bit too young. I think the youth of the time were not just rebelling though, but rather were responding to a definite internal spiritual change following the “marriage of the lamb.” The establishment of True Parents meant that traditional religious history had come to an end. Something new was to emerge, and the young people felt it. It was a shame that it did not happen. Though I think that in the end big business was more to blame than the young people themselves, the underlying issue for me was that True Parents were not generally accepted. So we had a prolongation and the foundation that was being established had nowhere to go.

    Today in some ways we are in a similar situation. Following Foundation Day we are once again in a totally different space. We are again faced with a spiritual shift that is being felt primarily by the youth. Not in the same way as before of course, but today’s youth are increasingly spiritual in non-traditional ways. I believe this to be exactly in accord with the times we are living in.

  5. The entire year of 1968 was memorable for me and seminal in the U.S. My older brother was in the Marines stationed first in Danang and in Hue after the Tet Offensive. The daily news of the war, the daily body counts, along with his letters home as well as the lottery draft which loomed for me and my friends were more profound than the music of the day. The assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert Kennedy as well as riots in cities I had never seen, Watts, Compton and the other headlines in the news; violence and protests for voting and civil rights throughout the South were profoundly important.

    When my brother returned from Vietnam that summer, he was a committed drug user and was so for many years after. Meeting quite a few of his buddies, they shared the stark reality that nearly all enlisted men used drugs and most of the officers were users of alcohol, not just in off hours, but during active duty. While the music of that era did promote a free sex agenda, my experience was that the tumultuous times created the environment that that culture developed in. The music created the musical score for the news and events of the day. That sexual confusion has had a very profound negative effect on our country. The Rollomg Stones were the poster group for that.

    However, the young people of that time were not just rebelling against authority with no purpose, but for injustice and a war that was never viewed as winnable, having no purpose or some thought immoral. Certainly every veteran I met from that time did view it in that way. I did not attend Woodstock and honestly did not hear about it until it was over. That said, I went to a lot of great concerts from 1967-71 including: The Doors, Steve Miller Band, Jefferson Airplane, Jethro Tull, J. Giles Band, The Byrds, Joan Baez, Fleetwood Mac, Led Zeppelin, and others. I was finished with drugs before I graduated from high school and for most of the people I knew, the notion of sex, drugs and rock and roll applied to only a tiny minority of people.

    I also discoved classical music during that time even though my mother played viola in our local community orchestra. In fact music played a central role in the civil rights campaigns and introduced gospel music to a much larger audience. I have been involved in more than one group discussion with our second generation youth and shared that the moral and political confusion of the 1960s were central in understanding why their parents would drop everything, school, jobs, their entire future, to work toward building World Peace Through Ideal Families. We thought we could turn world history around in three years, seven to ten at the most. And then we had our own families and faced the very hard work fulfilling the three blessings in substance. I have no doubt that our work has been and still is important and my family has been a blessing to me and to my extended family and community as well.

  6. Tommi,

    I have seen the movie “Free to Rock.”

    You bring up an interesting point about the youth rebellion in Europe. The rebellion of youth in the USA against the old “middle class bourgeois” values that were deemed superficial and “plastic” was very different than the rebellion of those living behind the Iron Curtain or in China who were being oppressed by totalitarian Marxism. I have musician friends who grew up in Moscow, Leningrad, Beijing and Shanghai, and their rebellion was a life-and-death endeavor. Being a “subversive” in those countries could land you in a gulag or forced labor camps. Regrettably, that scenario remains in play in those places (Chinese activist-artist, Ai Wei Wei, e.g.)

    I remember Father saying that once the Cold War was over the next war would be the culture war and that the Washington Times should focus on that. The reality we now face in USA and the West is that the spirit of Marxism lives on in the guise of cultural-Marxism, and the music industry, Hollywood and television are major contributing factors to the on-going cultural dissolution.

    What may not be so well known, is that key players of the neo-Marxist Frankfurt School made serious inroads to the arena of television and radio in the 1950s, and why not? What better way to propagate their anti-religious and secular ideology than through the use of mass-media. Paul Lazarsfeld, an avowed socialist and founder of Columbia University’s Bureau of Applied Social Research, was a Frankfurt School advocate who supported neo-Marxist Frankfurt School philosophers. Lazarfeld’s Columbia University project was of the same ilk of the Institute For Social Research in Frankfurt that spawned Critical Theory. That influence has grown exponentially.

    Regarding the issue of “authenticity,” the idea of authenticity in art needed to transcend the art itself. Given the influence of the artists they should have become authentic examples of the ideals they wrote songs about. Fred Goodman’s Book, The Mansion on the Hill is a terrific read on how the pursuit of financial wealth undermined much of the authenticity of the music of the era.

    I recently saw the Freddie Mercury biopic, “Bohemian Rhapsody” and the movie ends with Freddie performing at the Live Aid concert at Wembley Stadium. I remember reading about that concert at the time and the funds that were raised totaled about 30 million pounds. At the time Paul McCartney’s net worth was about $400 million. (His net worth is now estimated at $1.2 billion). Sir Paul could have cut a personal check for 30 million pounds and would not have had to change his lifestyle one bit. Many of those artists were multi-millionaires and could have done so much more.

    In spite of the good intentions the source of our problems are cultural and spiritual, not political or economic. The missed opportunity was that the real awakening of that time towards higher ideals was hijacked by the dark side.

  7. It was around 1971 when my aunt Walla, a teacher at a Catholic grammar school for girls in Lohr am Main, was visited by an East German colleague. Walla said to me: “Tommy, you must do me a favour. The son of my colleague is dying for a single from a band called “Uriah Heep”. Can you get “Look at Yourself“? They cannot obtain it in East Germany.” The frozen Empire was afraid of Uriah Heep! Brezhnev, Gromyko (his name reminded me of the cat in “Master and Margarita”), Ulbricht were gnashing their teeth at Western music. Of course I could get it for him, and his mother gave us something in return: a mathematics lexicon. This had been the stellar importance of music around 1969 before it became “muzak”.

    The first real East German I met was in 1978, Manfred from Magdeburg. He was brought out from a chemical storage where he was forced to work, hair all cut, being only a number. The GDR had put him there, because he had applied for an exit visa. This had been his crime. I had never met a person who felt so broken and saved at the same time. Also in 1978, jobbing at a newspaper plant, I met a sad looking Russian with a bitter smile who said he had been tortured by the authorities. He was always with a German Romanian who spoke about Hermannstadt. These three people contradicted the way our left-wing politicians described East Germany and painted an entirely different reality opposed to the facade we were used to. That’s why music became a symbol for freedom, even music as simple as this one.

    1. Thomas,

      An interesting film about artists living behind the Iron Curtin is the 2008 Oscar-winning movie, “The Lives of Others.” The story takes place in East Germany in the 1980s. It chronicles the lives of artists who were thought to be “subversives” by the Stasi and were continually spied upon.

      You might want to do a web search on the Chinese artist, Ai Wei Wei. I met him several times in New York in 1989-90 when he was a student. He has been attacked and harassed repeatedly by the Chinese authorities for his anti-communist rhetoric.

      And then there is the famed Russian composer, Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975). His life as an artist was intertwined with his vexatious relationship with Joseph Stalin. In his letters he details how many of his artist friends simply disappeared.

  8. My complex feelings towards Woodstock cannot be encompassed by the rather typical conservative condemnation of Woodstock I read in David’s article. I personally find Woodstock to be full of depth and irony. Despite its moral failings, it even has some redeeming qualities, which David simply glosses over.

    David is correct that rock and roll in the ’60s and ’70s became a quasi-religion, yet he doesn’t go to the root of why this phenomenon occurred. In my opinion, it was a result of Christianity’s failure to receive the Lord of the Second Advent. Hence it lost its moral and spiritual leadership in the eyes of the Woodstock generation. More importantly, it meant that good Christians of the 1960s were lost to True Parents, and hence God needed to tap new strains of youthful idealism outside the mainstream. Ergo, God set up Woodstock (yes, I believe God had a hand in it, not just the Devil) in order to reorient a generation away from traditional Christianity that was blocking God’s providence. While Woodstock did not provide answers to the deep questions of life, it did inspire the thoughtful children of that generation to search, and some of them found the answer at the door of Unificationism.

    To put it another way, Woodstock was a providential measure to destroy a failed Christian foundation, like the Renaissance was a measure taken to discredit the failed papacy at the end of the Middle Ages. As the Renaissance paved the way for the Catholic Church to yield to the birth of Protestantism, Woodstock liberated young people of Christian America to search elsewhere and find the Messiah.

    Because of his negative view of Woodstock, David also is too quick to dismiss the incredible musical richness and creativity of the 1960s by conflating it with the shallow state of popular music 20-30 years later. He doesn’t explore the interesting dynamics within the music of that time, either. For example, one could cast the Beatles and Rolling Stones as a Cain-Abel relationship.

    I believe that many Americans of our generation who read this blog have fond memories of Woodstock and the rock music of the ’60s. It was a part of their story, as it was mine, of a journey of searching and rebellion that led them to the Unification movement. Those memories came flooding back to me when I read Joni Mitchell’s lyrics in the article. Hence, I was emotionally let down by the article’s rather conventional conservative analysis of this historic moment in musical history.

  9. Dr. Wilson,

    Several of the issues you mention (Beatles vs. Stones, or the musical richness of some of the music, or that Woodstock was “a providential measure to destroy a failed Christian foundation”), could yield an 1,800-word essay for the AU blog. I could do 10,000-word essay on the in influence of the Frankfurt School on the art and music in the post-60s era. Commentators such as Camille Paglia, Jordan Peterson, Michael Walsh, Roger Scruton and Paul Kengor have all written extensively on this, and Paglia is of the opinion that most of the authentic, idealistic ’60s liberals destroyed themselves with LSD.

    Your assertion that Woodstock was “a providential measure to destroy a failed Christian foundation” begs the question: Was that generation ready to accept the idea that because the Lord of the Second Advent was on the earth that we were actually living in the “Age of Attendance” to the returning Lord? If Woodstock was analogous to the Renaissance paving the way to the Reformation, where was the alternative to that failed Christian ideal? You’re correct in the sense that Christianity of the era may have blocked the path for many to accept Father, but as I mention in the essay, by assailing certain foundational enterprises such as family and religion, entities that historically instructed us in the ways of compassion, self-discipline, charity and community cooperation, we unwittingly participated in our own cultural demise.

    When we joined UC we were asked to shave, get haircuts and wear shirts and ties and rid ourselves of what Father considered the fallen accouterments of ’60s hippie-dom. We appeared far more like ’50s Christians than ’60s New Age seekers.

    The quote I cited from Cheon Seong Gyeong articulates the Unificationist/Headwing approach to art and culture. In 1969 no one understood the ramifications of what Father was saying about art and music in the context of Godism and establishing a culture of true peace.

    In my opinion there is a great deal of romantic mythologizing regarding Woodstock because there was far more pagan hedonism in the cultural equation than Godly virtue. Yes, a few of us found True Parents, but we might have found them had Woodstock not taken place. Many of us had already rejected the faith of our upbringing, and looking back I realize I was a “prepared” person.

    Regarding the music, in the late ’60s and early ’70s, between stints and a music student at Ohio State, I was playing in several rock bands. I enjoyed the rock music of the era (and still do). However, having immersed myself in the symphonies of Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, Schumann, Mahler, and the tone poems of Strauss, Liszt, Smetana and Dvorak, (and Jazz), my perspective as to what constituted “great music” from a purely music perspective made it difficult for me to assign “greatness” to much of the rock canon. Sting was once asked about his music and he responded, “My music is great vehicle for making money, but compared to Stravinsky’s, it’s nowhere.” And I think Sting and the Police could be bloody brilliant.

    1. David,

      Your argumentation reminds me very much of the Catholic institution in which I was an adolescent.

      The week was basically planned as some kind of exorcism in order to cast out the bad influences that hung unto the adolescents: Morning prayer, prayer before lunch, evensong. Two masses: one on Sunday and one on Tuesday. In May, devotions to Mother Mary and in October the holy rosary. You were expected to confess and to go to holy communion. This rigid order provided the necessary protection for the boys to grow up. Besides that, sports were encouraged and a catalogue of punishments, the severest one was to kick somebody out.

      This kind of thinking has it, for instance, that the Jagger/Richards composition “Sympathy for the Devil” was some kind of channeling to bring the dark powers down working through the Rolling Stones as pars pro toto for the whole rock scene. You find allusions to Satan throughout the oeuvre of the Rolling Stones. Conclusion: they should have been exorcised. The same goes for smoking, drinking, premarital sex.

      The black romanticism of Leonard Cohen, the occultism of The Doors, the monotonous riffs of Black Sabbath, the debauched, immoral lyrics of Velvet Underground, you could go on and on, to show that this is “the fiend” of the Catholic Church.

      It was Bertold Brecht who called the higher echelons of East German Communism “priests” having the same rigid sense of order as the Catholics. Thus, you had to study the catechism in order to find out what God really wanted, but one thing was sure he had written down your sins in red ink and kept them in his notebook, ready to show them any time if required.

      Where to go? On one hand Jack Kerouac was “in”, J.D. Salinger was “in”; on the other hand, the USA was relentlessly bombing Vietnam. Catholic Church, Communism, USA, whereever you looked, there were prisons, not to mention the past with the German concentration camps. Nowhere to go!

      True Love was not to be found, not even as a concept. I knew a long-haired guy from East Germany. In 1984 he had escaped, because he loved Pink Floyd and Pink Floyd could not be obtained in the East. What a contemptous system! They even shoot you, if you want to leave.

      The state of mind of the Unification Church reminds me very much of my upbringing. Basically, it boils down to exorcism, but out there in the world you are left to yourself. Everybody is in his own marathon race towars perfection. The humane voices come from musicians: Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Van Morrison, and Joni Mitchell. Woodstock symbolized a utopian ideal of peace and worldwide brotherhood. People go for the “Good Vibrations”, not necessarily for the Good Book or the Best Book. They are looking for True Love, on which page is it to befound?!

      It is the music that helps us to express our soul and it is the musicians we are looking up to.

  10. Thomas,

    Whether we call it “exorcism” or “separating from Satan,” we understand that Joni Mitchell was correct in that we are “caught in the Devil’s bargain.” Jagger and Richard’s insights about Satan’s “game” were essentially correct as well. In many respects, UC is not all that different from the Catholicism I rejected in 1964 with its doctrines, its churches, its priests, its hymns, its sacraments, its rituals, its seminaries, its call for repentance and atonement, etc.

    True Love was not found because True Parents had not been found. And as True Parents instruct, the first step in attaining True Love is cutting off from our fallen habits — separating from Satan.

    1. “In many respects, UC is not all that different from the Catholicism I rejected in 1964 with its doctrines, its churches, its priests, its hymns, its sacraments, its rituals, its seminaries, its call for repentance and atonement, etc.” Yes, exactly … and that is why most second generation leave. This is no longer in accord with the spirit of age. This holds no meaning for the young people and God’s spirit is moving in different ways. Satan himself repented almost 20 years ago now. How do you think Lucifer has changed in 20 years? Perhaps he helps God now? We need to let go of the past and look to the future. Are we first generation who look back to Egypt and never leave the wilderness, or are we more like Joshua and Caleb who go with the next generation into the promised land?

  11. Father proclaimed a spiritual revolution. This sounds exciting, and it was the right message for baby boomers reflecting on the successes and failures of the 1960s.

    One of the motivating forces of the followers of Marcuse and the Frankfurt School was a developing critique of bureaucratic control. Radicals were not satisfied with LBJ’s social policies, or of course the war.

    Post-modernism was built on the rejection of communist-led unions in France. The intellectual youth of Europe fell under the spell of one-dimensional power analyses and vapid literary relativism.

    Doesn’t it seem like God had prepared a historically blessed generation for a new truth?

    A spiritual revolution offered something different from button-downed conservativism also. We wanted to regain God but in the context of a revolution that would finally bring true happiness.

    If I’m not mistaken, our movement seems to have divided along political lines, one surprisingly allied with new liberalism, and the other with Reagan-Trump conservatism.

    I’m glad that David and other commentators still feel the warmth of the spark of Woodstock, and remember the historic opportunity given to the baby boom generation.

    1. Peter,

      Marcuse, Adorno and others in the Frankfurt School were opposed to the Vietnam War because they wanted more, not less, Marxist/Socialist regimes in the geopolitical equation. Remember too in the late 1970s and early 1980s those who wanted “USA Out of Central America” were in favor of more Marxist regimes in place. Some of those countries became economic basket cases and now people are leaving in droves.

      1. We don’t need to go too deep in the issue, but I see it this way:

        Adorno’s philosophy still had Marxist roots, but Negative Dialectics is about how Marx’s teleology was not on the political horizon, i.e., his work was more of a placeholder until circumstances changed. But his work is essentially a political dead end. Philosophy could no longer articulate truth, and even modern music was on a knife edge between truth and ideology.

        Marcuse of course was much more politically engaged.

        But my point is that the Frankfurt School was an acknowledgement that the Marxist class struggle was no longer a reliable guide to praxis. Instead, as you know, the more political Frankfurters sought to create revolutionary opportunities through destruction of family, traditional sexuality, and critical thinking.

        This is the common bond with the French postmodernists: highly ambiguous political analysis leading (or not) to political action with radically unclear objectives.

        This is the political foundation of the boomers: radical desire leading to irrational strategy and a strong tendency to posturing. It leads to a spiritual emptiness in need of a fresh take on life.

  12. David,

    As an avid reader of Dostoevsky, I identified the Grand Inquisitor in “Brothers Karamazov” who sabotages the Second Coming with the Roman Catholic Church and the Protestant Church in Germany. Both own so many shares of the religious market that a newcomer doesn’t get a foot in the door. The Second Coming neither could have happened in the Soviet Union, as for Stalin and his comrades human life might have had the same value as a species of cauliflower. That’s why I’m interested in the history of the United States and its literature, its culture, its music. I would love to read an essay on the topic why the issue of freedom is so central to the idea of the USA that even an outsider coming from Korea is able to hit the bull’s eye.

    It’s in this context of American freedom and creativity, religious enthusiasm and sense of divine election that I interpret Woodstock. I was really “bubbling with enthusiasm” when Hyo Jin Nim played a 10 minute blues song after the Berlin CARP convention. It went straight into my heart. Also when I heard a concert of Joe Longo and The Ancestors, I thought this is going to be it, a heavenly Woodstock is on its way. Then suddenly the heroes disappeared from the stage and only “the inner circle” knew what really had happened. One more time “the earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters”. Ever since that time I’m waiting for a new creative beginning either in music, literature, film.

    Where is the creative explosion? Why did you term your article “Aquarian Angst” using a German noun? As an example for American creativity, to close on a positive note, I discovered a writer from New Jersey who seemed to have switched to the right wavelength; his name is James Morrow and the novel, he published in 1990, is called Only Begotten Daughter. “The story is about Julie Katz, the new Messiah, who is the daughter of God, and who is spontaneously conceived from a sperm bank donation by her father, Murray Katz, through “inverse parthenogenesis”. Julie struggles with her messianic powers, the mind games of Satan, being hunted by fundamentalists, and the silence of her mother, God.” I love the USA.

    1. Thomas,

      Lots to unpack here. I had lunch with Joe Longo just two weeks ago. We reflected quite a bit on the days when we were working with Hyo Jin Moon at Manhattan Center in the early 1990s. True Mother has been touting Hyo Jin Nim’s vision for art and music and that’s one of the reasons that she asked me to move to Korea in 2016 to undertake several musical initiatives.

      A significant reason that Hyo Jin Nim’s vision for music wasn’t easily understood or accepted was that the cultural DNA of Korea has never been as sympathetic to music (and musicians) as the West. Music is not seen as a high calling, in fact, quite the opposite. The interest in Western classical music in Korea (and Japan) is a post-WW II phenomenon. In a culture that values order and harmony, the rebellious spirit that rock and roll promotes of individualism and secularism seems anathema to the Oriental mind. It’s a real issue.

      With regard to your query about the issue of freedom vis-à-vis America and how “even an outsider coming from Korea is able to hit the bull’s eye,” obviously, the idea of freedom is not intrinsic to the USA or any other nation or culture. It’s part of God’s Principle of Creation. It may be connected to something deeply providential, as well.

      In his new book, Last Call for Liberty, Os Guinness asserts that before English Common Law, or the Magna Carta, or Athens, we need to look at the legacy of Exodus, Mt. Sinai and Moses’ declaration, “Let my people go!” 

The pursuit of liberty and a better condition was sparked by the desire for emancipation from the Pharaoh. Even Nietzsche, in “The Genealogy of Morals,” wrote that Israel’s liberation was the beginning of a two-thousand-year “slave revolt in morals.” The German poet, Heinrich Heine, said, “Since Exodus, freedom has always been spoken with a Hebrew accent.”

      We could say that this is the “Judeo” aspect in Judeo-Christian tradition. The Sinai covenant, according to Guinness, came to America with the English and put its stamp on American history through its contribution to the U.S. Constitution and the idea of constitutionalism. According to Guinness, if this was indeed the source of freedom, then (as Lincoln suggested) Americans are not simply an “almost chosen people,…they live in an almost covenanted polity, and they are the heirs of the Jewish ‘almost democracy.’”


That, to me, is a fascinating take on the source of American-style freedom.

  13. Thank you everyone for inspiring me with your insights.

    I came across an interesting interview of a German professional musician who took the right exit from the Autobahn that led to Woodstock. His name is Rudl Esch and he says that “Düsseldorf is the capital of electronic music”. Here he talks about the topic that concerned millions of “fab listeners”:

    “Q: How significant was the Cold War and the presence of NATO armed forces in acting as a political and artistic driving force among the German student population?

    “The Cold War represented a hard cut in German culture and the post-war generation had been occupied with themselves up until the time of the Wirtschaftswunder. Light music, operettas and musicals were popular amongst the general public. The Americans brought their leitkultur of blues-based rock ’n’ roll. People listened to AFN and BFBS, and they huddled around the radio to listen to the British Top Twenty on Radio Luxembourg on a Saturday. The British also created public radio stations following the blueprint of the BBC.

    “But they also failed to remove some of the brown structures within higher education. This created the clash between the old ideas of the professors and the new ideas of the students, resulting in the student uprisings in the sixties. Without a doubt, students got some of the more liberal ideas from listening to the radio stations of the occupying forces and this in turn led to a cultural revolution later which laid the ground to the experimentation with new sounds in the end. The people involved in the student riots — like in Paris ’68 — were all born after WW2. They were in deep protest to their Nazi parents and didn’t accept the Allies musical dominance anymore. People like Rother and Hütter were looking for a German sound aside the Rhythm ‘n’ Blues patterns. They said they were looking for a Volksmusik for the Twenty-first Century.”

    1. Thomas,

      Thank you for this perspective. In the U.S., we are not as likely to be sensitized to the recent history of Germany and how it affects the sensibilities of more recent generations. The comments of Rudi Esch are instructive. Now there is an emerging viewpoint that we need to assess art according to PC orthodoxy.

      In 2018, the Toronto Star ran a column by John Terauds, titled: “‘Ode to Joy’ has an odious history. Let’s give Beethoven’s most overplayed symphony a rest.” Among the offenses attributed to this symphony, was that Hitler “adored” this music and how, “Musicians waiting for their deaths in Nazi concentration camps were ordered to play it, metaphorically twisting its closing call to universal brotherhood and joy into a terrifying, sneering parody of all that strives for light in a human soul.”

      Let’s be clear: Nazi concentration camps were Hitler’s sin, not Beethoven’s.

      The same taint is often applied to Wagner’s music, especially because of his anti-Semitic views. Bach’s St. John’s Passion has come under scrutiny because the composer included texts that had an anti-Semitic context regarding the Jews not recognizing Jesus as the coming messiah.

      Mr. Terauds makes the dubious claim that, “Western music usually thinks of itself as being apolitical.” Not true at all. Some of the earliest operas often had political librettos. Beethoven was literally a child of the French Revolution and could be quite political in his work (Egmont, Fidelio, e.g.). Paul Hindemith experienced run-ins with the Nazis. Dmitri Shostakovich was ensnared by conflicts with Stalin. Aaron Copland had distinct political intentions in some of his music. Several of John Adams’ operas have serious political and ideological overtones. Many popular musicians have used their music to lambast and lampoon politicians regardless of political party or persuasion. Music’s linkage with politics is as old as the day is long.

      That said, the temptation to derogate an artwork because of the moral failings of its creator puts us in position to censure any artwork composed since the human fall. Profound ideas and great music don’t automatically lose their validity just because unscrupulous people try and assimilate them into their own distasteful world views — and it’s an awfully tenuous assumption that, by listening to a composer’s music, we automatically perceive and accept that composer’s moral philosophy. Many of us have listened to and performed Wagner for years without succumbing to the malevolence of rabid anti-Semitism, fascism, racism, or adultery. Think of the Jewish conductors who have delivered convincing performances of Wagner’s music including Levi, Mahler, Levine, Maazel, Bernstein, and Barenboim. That said, having traveled to Israel on many occasions I now possess a deeper understanding of the underlying sensitivities about Wagner among many in the Jewish community. Yet, that has not diminished my appreciation for his music on purely musical grounds.

      As music journalist Michael Walsh observes, in this era of political correctness, it is very easy “to trump up a series of latter-day charges against almost any dead individual, exhume his corpse, and, like a Cadaver Synod run by a grad-school Nuremberg court…cut off his head, mount it on a pike, and chuck the body into a ditch.” This type of PC-thinking puts all art in the crosshairs of cultural Marxism…and that’s not good.

      1. I guess a spiritually refined and mature person doesn’t fall any more for music that goes against his heartbeat or drags him down into bad spirit land. I tried Vivaldi, J. S. Bach, Händel, Buxtehude, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, et. al., but something is missing: you cannot repent 24 hours a day.

        We don’t know if Jesus likes “Jesus Christ Superstar” or if he thinks it daft. Those mediums never ask the kind of questions I would ask him. But being involved with the world scene tends to be very stressful, nervy, aggravating, at times depressing, even violent.

        Don’t they develop in the spirit world some music festival on different levels with former rock musicians, like John Lennon, George Harrison, etc., and work on new music?

        You want a band that tears the room apart and knows how to create joy, spontaneity, knows how to improvise and make people happy.

        So, to what bands are the True Children listening? Any favourite singers, shouters, blues singers? This is my question to the less deceived.

        There is going to be another Woodstock this year, the 50th anniversary, probably a very commercial event. Joe Cocker left the second event saying: “See you at the next Woodstock!” I guess this song is his legacy.

        1. Thomas,

          Lincoln Center’s White Light Festival markets its concerts with the promise of a “transcendent” experience. Recent festivals have highlighted music composed and performed by notable artists such as Gidon Kremer and the Hilliard Ensemble, artists who have specialized in liturgical, quasi-New Age, “back-to-the-basics” genres of Sacred Minimalism, Tintinnabuli and neo-Spiritualism. The festivities have also included panel discussions featuring an auditory physiologist, a cognitive neuroscientist and an expert on comparative religion, presumably to discuss the religious and spiritual traditions of music and its affects on our psyche.

          There is an interest — a hunger — for music that satiates the innate human desire to experience beauty. This is not “Christian” music, per se, but music that does have some characteristics of Gregorian Chant — Arvo Paert, Morten Lauridson, Eric Whitacre.

          I know several BCs, including my daughter, who, via Spotify, are enjoying some of the terrific music of yesteryear by Crosby, Stills and Nash, the Doobie Brothers, Earth, Wind and Fire, Chicago, Toto, Grand Funk Railroad, the Eagles, etc. One contemporary band that is getting attention is a family group from Australia — The Fergies. They’re not a proto-typical rock group — very creative and imaginative.

          Consider Father’s words from 1983: “Classical music has the greatest ability to convey the expressions of the heart. Classical music should be your foundation. With that foundation you should take the Abel-type element of other musical styles — jazz, folk, pop — and combine them into one style that transcends those individual styles. That’s New Age music.”

          I’ve composed a number of pieces along these lines, including this Classical/Hip-Hop merge.

  14. As with any human endeavor, there are many levels of analysis, and so it is with this Woodstock thing and the whole hippie phenomenon. Given the constraints of essay format, I think Dr. Eaton did a pretty good job. Of course there was a lot of good music made by good people, Joni Mitchell’s piece being a great example, but by and large the direction of the “Woodstock movement” was against the providence for the reasons he mentioned.

    My gripe with “religious” music of today is that it seems helplessly naive and ethereal. It doesn’t resonate with the physical. Most of it makes me yawn. The hope of Christianity is in a supernatural Second Coming, so I think that must affect the music they create, but I would like to see more “earthy” art coming from within our circles.

    True Father’s poem “Crown of Glory” is great poetry. There’s a real sense of urgency, presence and struggle there. That’s all part of our life experience, and “mere” songs of praise can never convey it.

    What I meant by “authenticity” earlier was that when we harness our creativity with ideology, be it good or bad ideology, we most likely lose authenticity. We are not true to our character any longer, but to ideology. Art is fundamentally not an intellectual exercise, but that of heart and emotion, a quest for beauty. An artist needs an inner yardstick and compass to gauge whether his art is good or garbage, and there, religion plays an important role, but I wince when religion or ideology regulates art.

    The Woodstock generation emphasized individual freedom without a clear inner yardstick to evaluate their actions. It went downhill.

    Can we find a way to “true” art, avoiding the pitfalls of both excess individualism and “ideological creativity”?

    1. Tommi,

      In the passage I cite from Cheon Syeong Gyeong, there is cautionary narrative about art being “propagandistic” or doctrinaire. Yet, we understand that setting a liturgical text to music (whether scripture or “The Crown of Glory”) basically results in the advocacy of a particular dogma or doctrine. The same holds true of a secular text. Words impact us—sacred or profane.

      There now exists a concept that dogma is “dangerous” or bad or a sign of closed minds, but even that is an expression of a certain dogma. In our postmodern culture, it’s gotten to the point where a superficial nonconformity (“Be true to yourself”) is the new conformity. The word “dogma” stems from the Greek dokein, meaning that which seems good. So intellectually questioning something to ascertain if it is seemingly morally good or bad isn’t de facto undermining, dismissing, or destroying. It’s part of the process of arriving at truth and a Godly culture.

      Whether in music, ballet, the cinema, or musical theater, we are generally telling stories and the best stories are the ones that move our hearts or cause us to think in different or deeper ways. Genre may not be as important as intention or the “truth” being conveyed through the artwork. (One of our BCs from Africa set “The Crown of Glory” to a decidedly pop beat with African rhythms).

      Father states in CSG that the “ism” in Godism means “way of living.” For the artist, that means way of creating, or way of performing. In this context, the responsibility of the artist in relation to his/her family, tribe, community, nation, etc. ought to impact that which he/she creates. Music that makes us want to dance (the physical) should be part of the heavenly equation so long as our motives are pure. St. Augustine had trouble with the sensual aspect of music, but because we understand DP we can channel our emotions and actions into a better and more virtuous place.

  15. David,

    Thank you very much for your patience in answering to music lovers everywhere who try to find the utopian potential in “Woodstock”, because by remembering the past, you want to find the spark that lights your fire one more time and saves it from a “funeral pyre”.

    “There is an interest — a hunger — for music that satiates the innate human desire to experience beauty.” That’s my line.

    In 1969, I didn’t understand the lyrics of the songs, yet, so my desire to experience beauty was expressed in love songs ranging from Peter Sarstedt’s “Where do you go to my lovely?” to Barry Ryan’s “Eloise”. On the other hand, I loved the guitar work in “Honky Tonk Women”, “Oh Well”, “Race With the Devil”. The time of the Beatles seemed to be over as Joe Cocker’s version of “With a Little Help from My Friends” clearly surpassed the Lennon/McCartney original. I had bought “Proud Mary” and “Green River” of Creedence Clearwater Revival and listened to their music over and over again. I also loved Sly and the Family Stone.

    My friends and me lived basically for the top 100 that were played on Radio Luxemburg or AFN, for soccer, for the Catholic Church and its library, but it was the music that went into our subconsciousness. We saw the students on TV fighting it out on the streets with the police and they became our heroes, at least mine. Somebody took his guitar into the playground and puzzled over Beatles songs, trying to rehearse them. The elder brother of a schoolmate had formed a band and sang Doors songs like “Five to One”:

    The old get old
    And the young get stronger
    May take a week
    And it may take longer
    They got the guns
    But we got the numbers
    Gonna win, yeah
    We’re takin’ over
    Come on

    We believed that. It worked on our imagination, it worked on our subconsciousness, it gave us hope to do something impossible in a world that was measured out already. In Germany, the films of R. W. Faßbinder made a great impact. Our German language teacher advised us to see “Why Does Herr R. Run Amok?”, a movie, in which a normal functioning family man suddenly runs amok. Ironically, the protagonist goes into a record shop and sings the melody of the song he wants to buy for his wife, because he doesn’t remember the title. There’s no utopian potential in that song, not in any German song of the German top 100, so no wonder the guy goes berserk.

    Now, I am 64 years old and grateful for True Parents to have endowed me with a wife that comes close to all the love songs that I have adored. At the same time, the monotonous life is eating people up everywhere and Faßbinder’s black humor has become reality for many.

    1. Thomas,

      As you say, because we found True Parents, we are not being eaten by that “monotonous life.” We have hope and a vision. Let’s help others find TPs.

      1. I remember the long-haired Austrian writer, Peter Handke, whose books are full of rock and roll music. He was asked if he feels that he also would belong to the revolutionary generation of 1968, he answered something like: “No. I am a member of the generation of 1964; that’s when the song “I Want to Hold Your Hand” of The Beatles came out. I am a member of the love & peace generation.”

        So when I’m holding hands with my wife, I think of True Parents exemplary attitude, but also of Peter Handke’s quote. When Handke met his “biological” father, the jukebox played “Devil in Disguise” by Elvis Presley. No coincidence for Handke, as his father had deserted his mother and the mother had committed suicide. Handke has never got over the blues of a “Blind” Lemon Jefferson.

        Music lover Handke used to frequent restaurants that had a Wurlitzer music box and he wrote in the shadow of the jukebox remembering Van Morrison who mentions one in “Wild Night”:

        “We want a few mad people now. See where the sane ones have landed us!” (G.B. Shaw)

        Peter Handke is seven months and 20 days older than Mick Jagger; he still looks like a Beatle.

        And when I touch you
        I feel happy inside
        It’s such a feelin’ that my love
        I can’t hide
        I can’t hide
        I can’t hide

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