Only that parking spot happened to be quite aways to the entrance and several times people shouted “Hey, the band’s finally here!” For me I was just glad not to be driving and knowing that the rest of the day would be totally back to mellow once we were inside with the music and crowds and more than just white faces. But I didn’t realize how panicked Billy, Russell and the kids were. They still hadn’t seen another black face since Philadelphia and actually thought I was bringing them to a concentration camp for them to be executed because they couldn’t hear any music where I’d parked and were not at all convinced that I hadn’t been duped, that this wasn’t a concert, and they were being herded to their deaths. It didn’t help that this was one of the first “Woodstock-like” concerts I’d been to which had barbed-wire fencing all around and, at the entrance, rows of cow-pen-like fences to single-herd ticket purchasers and make sure nobody got in for free. Even at the point I’m getting ready to pay, they all are imploring me to turn back because we still couldn’t hear any music. Plus there were police dogs on leashes and Billy said one just snarled viciously.
But I kept everybody together and we all got in and we walked around a bend and there was the stage and there were thousands of people on blankets listening to music and we all found a spot and listened for each other as we played along. Getting there though was quite the trip, me having to maintain crossing new frontiers that everybody – later – agreed were great to cross. Russell and I haven’t seen each other since 1975, but I’m sure we would be as tight as if we’d just crossed that frontier yesterday.*
* That’s another reason I am so sure The Movement was winning in the days before The Propaganda Campaign. (See “Open Letter to Jack & Nick.”) Yes, the hallucinations were great but there was a reality component as well. We really did trip and we really did form a lifelong bond. And there was an entire counter-culture in America forming lifelong bonds, not just from tripping or smoking pot, but from sharing any sort of meaningful experiences where trust and loyalty are unquestioned. Those were days you became friends for life even if you never saw each other again. We believed we had the power to change the world. It’s time to start believing all over again.
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