Hello, readers (that means you, Mom)! Due to the fact that, at the moment, I’m not having very reliable connection to the internet — which is making it hard for me to fully load videos on YouTube and watch them in their entirety — I’m putting Video of the Week on hiatus for a couple weeks. This doesn’t mean I won’t be posting anything for the next couple weeks; just that you won’t be seeing any Videos of the Week for a while. Sorry about that.
16 Ways to Celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Woodstock for the Rest of the Month (or Longer) August 19, 2009
This month marks the 40th anniversary of the Woodstock Music and Art Fair (now often referred to simply as “Woodstock”). Those who are old enough to remember the 1960s (or, like me, were brought up on a steady diet of Peter, Paul, and Mary; The Beatles; and Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young), you probably have a good idea of how important a milestone in music and American culture Woodstock was. But after hearing my mom talk about some recent conversations she’s had with slightly younger colleagues, some shocking information was revealed to me: a great deal of people (mostly from “Generation X”, and possibly from my own generation as well) don’t realize how huge and unparalleled this event was. Sure, Woodstock may not have been the first large-scale rock music festival (I believe the Monterey Pop Festival of 1967 was the first), nor the last one (Altamont happened only a few months later, and today there are festivals like Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo, which are held annually), but it was unique in that, for three whole days (and then some), half a million people got together and were able to mingle peacefully the entire time. And believe me, the conditions at the concert site were far from ideal. Attendees had to deal with heavy rainfall, scarce food, overflowing portable toilets, and having to listen to The Grateful Dead play “Turn on Your Lovelight” for over 40 minutes (no disrespect to all you Deadheads out there – I find the Dead quite enjoyable myself – but surely 40 minutes is a bit much for a song that doesn’t have too much going on in the lyric department). Not to mention all the people who paid for their tickets and got ripped off when Woodstock was declared a “free concert.” That is, those who even made it to the festival and didn’t get caught up in miles upon miles of traffic. It’s a wonder, and a testament to the mutual cooperation of the concert goers, that no riots broke out (no real riots, anyway. The only thing that may have even remotely resembled a riot was when a bunch of hippies started chanting “No rain! No rain!” in an effort to halt the heavy downpour, while others slid through the mud in various stages of undress. But that was all in good fun). So anyway, what I’m getting at is this: there’s never been any event to match the outcome of Woodstock, and the likelihood of their ever being another is incredibly slim. Which is kind of unfortunate for me, since I was born about two decades after Woodstock and have to rely on my DVD of the documentary to even get a whiff of the essence of Woodstock (though now that I’ve put that into words, it sounds king of wrong. I’m sure the essence of Woodstock wouldn’t smell very good, what with the Port-a-Sans and the various substances being smoked and all. But you get what I’m driving at). But if you want to celebrate Woodstock’s anniversary this month, or possibly the rest of the summer, or – heck – the rest of the year (as I’m very likely to be doing) here’s some (legal) ideas of ways that you can party like it’s 1969:
- Macramé something for yourself and/or loved ones. For the most authentic experience, I’d suggest using natural hemp cord, but just about any type of string/thread/twine/yarn will do. I’ve been working with embroidery floss myself lately).
- Make yourself a mixtape/CD/playlist of late-1960s hits. Listen at full volume (or as loud as you can get away with, anyway). Feel free to play air guitar/drums/keyboards/bass/sitar/harmonica/flute.
- Next time you get a heavy rainstorm, chant “No rain! No rain!” until it stops. Or until you lose your voice. Or until your family and/or friends beg you to stop.
- After a heavy rainfall, put on a bathing suit you don’t mind getting dirty (or, depending on how private your property is, get naked) and slide through the mud. It’s Mother Nature’s Slip ‘n’ Slide, man!
- Start incorporating suede fringe vests and jackets, peace sign necklaces, and Birkenstocks (I don’t care what anyone says; they’re NOT ugly shoes!) into your wardrobe.
- Make your own tie-dye t-shirt.
- Learn some yoga moves, and practice several times a week.
- Neglect shaving for a week. Or two. Or more. This means you too, ladies.
- Take a road trip up to Bethel, New York (the site of the original Woostock festival. There is also a town called Woodstock in upstate New York, but the festival didn’t actually take place there. Still, the town of Woodstock is definitely worth checking out. It’s very laid back and has lots of head shops and antique stores).
- Watch a video/DVD of the documentary Woodstock. I recommend the 40th anniversary special edition of Woodstock that came out a couple of months ago, which I will probably be posting a review of later this week.
- If you don’t already own a video or DVD of the movie Hair, and if you still think capitalism isn’t that weird, go out and rent it. Or, better yet, go and see Hair live on Broadway. Unfortunately, I’ve not yet had the pleasure of seeing it live, but I hope to soon.
- Throw a Woodstock themed party. As a bonus, encourage guests to dress up as their favorite Woodstock performer (I myself would probably go as Alvin Lee. Either that or Arlo Guthrie).
- Hug a tree.
- Grow your hair out. This means you too, fellas.
- Go and see Taking Woodstock, which will be out in theaters on the 28. I, for one, can’t wait to see it.
- Incorporate the words “groovy” (meaning “cool”) and “cat” (slang term for a person of the male persuasion, although “cats” as a plural can mean a collective group made up of both males and females) into daily conversations, and tack the word “man” at the end of your sentences.
Video of the Week: “Going up the Country” by Kitty Daisy & Lewis August 15, 2009
There are two reasons why I chose this video for “Video of the Week.” The first is that I was made aware of Kitty Daisy & Lewis – a British musical trio made up of two sisters and a brother – earlier this week when they performed their jazzy cover of Canned Heat’s “Going up the Country” on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and I thought they were phenomenal. The second reason is that Canned Heat performed “Going up the Country” at the Woodstock Music & Art Fair in 1969, and can be heard during a memorable scene in Woodstock – the epic documentary film which covers the three-day festival – during which the audience gets its first glimpse of the far-out concert-goers as they arrive. The song sets the scene perfectly and really depicts the attitude most of the festival’s attendees brought to this hog farm in upstate New York: they’re attempting to leave behind the pressures of American society – if only for a few days – by traveling far into rural New York to mingle with like-minded flower children. And this weekend just happens to be the 40th anniversary of this groovy congregation.
But enough about Woodstock (don’t worry; I’ll be posting plenty more about Woodstock for the next couple of weeks, as it’s probably the event that I most lament not being alive for), on to the video. One of the things I like about this video is its Wizard of Oz-esque use of color. Much like a certain video featured as Video of the Week a few weeks ago, in the video for “Going Up the Country”, the city is depicted as a dull and nearly colorless place, while the open country is a bright, beautiful place awash with color. Another great thing about this video is the grainy quality that gives it that old-fashioned appearance to suit the very old-fashioned style of this song, which sounds as if it could have been recorded decades before the original version was. The video itself looks like it could have been made at any point between the 1950s and now. To top it all off, the video’s setting places the siblings in a rural area which could be – for all we know – in upstate New York. But I probably only think that because I know of the song’s history and have seen Woodstock more times than I can count. Anyway, enjoy the video.
Oh, and if you want to hear the original “Going up the Country,” here’s a rather amusing video someone made on YouTube, implying that Canned Heat’s vocalist Alan “Blind Owl” Wilson sounds suspiciously similar to a certain lovable amphibian. And I’d have to agree with them: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XM5VZiaPvys
Video of the Week: “Accidents Will Happen” by Elvis Costello August 9, 2009
Over the years, there have been countless music videos made in which the actions in the video have absolutely nothing to do with the context of the song (which has resulted in numerous “literal versions” of music videos posted on YouTube, in which the song’s real lyrics will be dubbed over by a literal narration of what’s going on in the video. To see an example of this, click here). Then you have videos like 1979’s “Accidents Will Happen” by Elvis Costello, in which the theme of the song is complemented perfectly by the video. The video is made up of numerous cartoons depicting a wide variety of accidents happening, from minor gaffes – like burning toast or sitting on a pair of sunglasses – to catastrophic mistakes – such as Baja California breaking off and sinking into the Pacific Ocean after a mysterious red button is pushed. Meanwhile, colorful animated images of Elvis Costello and his band are frequently glimpsed every now and then between the accidents. Animated music videos are hard to come by, and even less common are ones this entertaining, yet this simplistic. What’s great about this music video is that, since the cartoons are so fast-paced, you can watch it over and over again and still notice new little “accidents” that you never noticed previously. This has to be one of my favorite animated music videos ever. Hope you like it too.
Whether or not you’ve had a trying experience with a next-door neighbor (or roommate, for that matter), you will almost certainly find the video for The All-American Rejects’ “Gives You Hell” entertaining. The situation is all too familiar, whether you’ve experienced it first-hand or have just seen it on countless sitcoms: two neighbors with seemingly nothing in common (except, of course, a mutual loathing for each other) go out of their way to annoy each other. In this case, it’s a sloppy rocker who lives with his girlfriend and band, and a clean-cut prep living a quiet, fifties sitcom-style (complete with sleeping arrangements) life with his wife. Needless to say, a feud ensues. The neighbors’ antics consist mostly of sleep-disrupting mischief, presumably started by the band’s late-night rehearsal keeping their neighbor awake. To make matters even more hilarious, both angry neighbors are played by the same guy: the band’s lead singer, Tyson Ritter. Also hilarious is how well the lyrics – though most likely written for an ex – fit into the context of the video (note rocker-Ritter’s facial expression when prep-Ritter says, “If you find a man who’s worth a damn and treats you well” about a minute and a half in), and how visibly ridiculous both the rocker’s girlfriend and the prep’s wife find their partners’ bickering. Luckily, thanks to a simple but brilliant idea hatched by these two women, a happy ending is met for all. Enjoy.
There are at least three versions of the video for “Gives You Hell”, with two of them varying only slightly. One is a little bit longer, plus has a very brief shot of the rocker giving an obscene hand gesture, and has a different (and less G-rated…by this I mean it garners more of a PG-rating, but nothing more) ending scene involving the rocker and the prep’s wife. To see this version, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4SL8GIqhrhI
To see a slightly shorter (and cleaner) version of the video, which is the one that’s usually shown on TV, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l06M-dsQf3Q
The third version, on the other hand, just shows the band performing in their house, omitting the neighborhood feud plotline as well as Ritter’s neat-freak doppleganger. But the singer does still make some funny faces in the video. If you want to see this one, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IV4l2cb4Qbk