Saturday, May 15, 2010

Back to the Garden (Pete Fornatale)

I have always had a fascination with the legend that is Woodstock (the music festival, not Snoopy's little friend). How could all of the pieces fit together so magically as to make the perfect puzzle? How could a curly-haired, baby-faced, basically unknown producer get acts like the Who, Janis Joplin, and Jimi Hendrix to perform on Max Yasgur's farm in New York? How did a for-profit festival suddenly turn free?

Woodstock...just the name conjures mixed reviews. Many people claim to be there who were not. Even the people who WERE there have very different memories of what happened. This is probably not surprising at all with all the "smoke" in the air. Back to the Garden is a collection of remembrances by musicians, managers, producers, and attendees who sometimes completely contradict each other. Fornatale goes through each day and act in chronological order, from Richie Havens after 5:00 PM on Friday (He was not supposed to be the first.) to Hendrix's legendary rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner" very early Monday morning (Most people had left already.).

Back to the Garden provides one of the best retellings of Woodstock yet. His interviews come together to create an extremely thorough picture. This is must reading for everyone, including the people who were there but do not "remember" everything.


This review can also be found on