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Remembering Woodstock's Women Musicians: Both of Them

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No one was texting Mom im ok bt wet from Woodstock says the New York Times' Gail Collins, one of the few columnists to admit having been there. (And how old are you?)

Nor were Woodstockers texting nxt to bg grn tent w peace sign WRU@? to locate each other.

No, in those days the handheld devices audiences consecrated bands with were (anyone?) Bics --yet somehow the event was recorded without legions of volunteer citizen documentarians operating today.

Other tech inventions were missing, too back then. Like ATMs and credit cards--which would have been marked for "nationalization" in Steal This Books days--and credit ratings themselves.

Imagine boarding a plane without the airline knowing your age, address, travel history, spending habits and outstanding balance. Imagine buying tickets with no Ticketron. Who remembers anonymity? Who misses it?

Festing was cheaper in those days too. It cost $18 to attend the 3 day rock concert and about $10 to fly standby from Indianapolis to Albany albeit in the company of the guys on the other side of the culture divide, the G.I.s. Hold the antiwar songs.

You could also use your thumb to get around and inch along in 1969 versions of the SUV called the ChevyVan and VW Microbus. Hitch-hiking wouldn't stop until the 1978 Larry Singleton/ Mary Vincent incident which put an end forever to the rhetorical "But What Could Happen?"

Of course it is not just the ubiquity of ring tones and debit cards that differentiates a Lollapalooza from a Woodstock. It is not the absence of antiwar songs and protests which actually began evaporating by 1972, when the draft was eliminated, long before the Iraq wars.

It's the musicians.

Despite Collins' 2004 book America's Women: Four Hundred Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines, she's yet to comment on the "position" of women performers at Woodstock--both of them, Joplin and Slick--which was probably as Black Power leader Stokely Carmichael said of women in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) "prone." (Actually there were more than two women there--maybe four or five!)

Not only did women not front bands in those days, play rock instruments before Suzi Quatro and Joan Jett or mess their dos (before Joplin) they didn't even hold title to their own bodies. As in the Grateful Dead's famous line from Jack Straw, "We can share the women; we can share the wine." Hello?

Nor did Arlo, anti-macho mascot though he was who made litter not war, doubt women were in the public domain with his Don't Touch My Bags lyric, "Hip woman walking on a moving floor/Tripping on the escalator /There's a man in the line, and she's blowing his mind /Thinking that he's already made her."

One woman remembers a hitchhiker asking her boyfriend if he could have a "crack at her" during the share-the-women days. "Can he?" she asked her boyfriend.

And it got worse.

Everyone exulted at Jimi Hendrix' presence at Woodstock because he was an African-American, psychedelic, anti-establishment and hailed from the crescent of music civilization, Jolly Old England. At the time, most African-American musicians were still dressing up and sync dancing even as bas couture rock was taking over.

Yet imagine an oppressed group not just tolerating but rocking to, "I'm going down to shoot my old lady; You know, I've caught her messin' around with another man," as women did to Hendrix' Hey, Joe. "And I gave her the gun/I SHOT HER!"

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Martha Rosenberg is an award-winning investigative public health reporter who covers the food, drug and gun industries. Her first book, Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health, is distributed by Random (more...)
 

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And I guess Joan B and Peter,P,and M were at Monte... by GL Rowsey on Wednesday, Aug 19, 2009 at 1:04:44 PM
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