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1. At the end of it all, you’re still my best friend.

2. Green grass and a silver melody

3. Cantankerous, slovenly and unkempt


It was 1969 and the decade hadn’t been good for a lot of people. I was young then, but on the fringes of the movement. Which movement? Take your pick.

Every day seemed to bring another slogan, another cause, and another reason to be anything your parents weren’t. I found it hard to identify with all those disenfranchised young people. They had been born when I was, in the war years, and had enjoyed growing up in a postwar glow of prosperity. But somehow things had turned around for a lot of them, and now I looked at them and saw not a mirror reflection of myself, but a mass of strangers with too-long hair, too dirty skin, and too unfamiliar ideals.

I was newly married, ring and all, and basking in the welcome warmth of a young husband’s eager affection. We didn’t have much money, but it wasn’t a problem then. What we needed was at all times readily available in the confines of our tiny apartment. The world outside stayed outside.

The one thing that connected us to “them”—those strange and somehow frightening hippies—was the music. Much of it was raucous and largely unintelligible.

“Drugs,” we told each other. We’d nod and speak of Mozart and Perry Como.

But the plaintive songs of young men desperately waiting for change were unexplainedly coming from the same poets, and these were welcome to our ears. How could this be? And where would it progress from here?

The news reports spoke of war with strange-sounding place names and pictures that burned our hearts. The neighbor boys left—for Vietnam or for Canada—and the music went on. We hummed along with some of the beautiful melodies and never heard the words.

Woodstock suddenly meant more than the log pile by the back door. The song grew, a hundred sets of lyrics and a thousand separate strains, but the song was really all the same. It was more than green grass and a silver melody. It was a coming-together, and a coming-apart.


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