The one song that epitomised Woodstock was just inspired by the festival and was not based on a first hand account. Back in those days, they didn’t even have cell phones so it wasn’t even possible for Graham Nash, then boyfriend of Joni Mitchell, to call her and scream “Yaaaaaaaaa! Woodstock!” and then send her a video of Jimi Hendrix’s rendition of “Star Spangled Banner” which would actually be a video of a guy videoing Jimi with his iPad. Yes, festivals were different in those days…
The story goes that Joni’s manager thought that appearing on the The Dick Cavett Show on 19 August 1969 (a day after Woodstock) would be better for her career than to perform at the festival. Oddly enough, David Crosby and Stephen Stills came straight from the festival to the show for the recording. Her manager did have a bit of a point as Jimi Hendrix was scheduled to appear on the show but couldn’t due to the delay of his set. Anyway, because of some major FOMO, she penned the song based on the images broadcast on TV and descriptions retold by Graham Nash presumably whilst they were lying in bed after he had five showers to get rid of the stench. Speaking of which, many of the audience members on the show came straight from Woodstock. Man, that set must have had a rather pungent odour!
Maybe its just my imagination or bias but in this acoustic rendition (which is how she first envisaged the song) you can hear that she really hated that she missed the concert. How beautiful is her voice? Seriously?
On 31 October 1970, the song hit #1 in the UK and stayed there for three weeks until Jimi Hendrix “Voodoo Child” kicked it off. But this time it was done by the band Matthews Southern Comfort. This was their only real big hit. It does sound like a stoner hippy song. The video is a pretty cool vignette of shots from Woodstock. Think of this as a bonus video for the day.
Anyway, Crosby, Stills, Nash (and Young) took the song and made it into the modern classic that we all know and love. Starting with the heroic guitar riff of Stephen Stills into the melodic intertwining that they excelled at. Its a song that makes you feel you went to Woodstock. You feel the peace and love. It’s all so beautiful. I personally think its one of the greatest songs ever sung.