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Ep-006: Michael Lang
Listen Now to The Woodstock Episodes Part 6
with the Visionary Creator of Woodstock '69, Michael Lang.
Michael is the man who had a dream of gathering people from
across the country for three days of Peace and Music,
away from the craziness, in the countryside.
Along with his "Woodstock Family,
Michael made it happen...
at the age of 23.
We chose to begin this podcast -- "by, for and about Baby Boomers" -- with a series called "The Woodstock Episodes." We set out to create a conversation about who we were, what we accomplished, and why it matters today. Woodstock -- that phenomenal event in the summer of '69 -- seemed like a logical place to start. Woodstock had enormous influence on our generation, and was a prime motivator of a major shift in American culture.
We always wanted to interview the man most associated with Woodstock, the Visionary who dreamed of three days of peace and music, Michael Lang.
Michael was unavailable last year, crazy-busy trying to put together the 50th Anniversary celebration. But recently, he agreed to talk with Host Julian G. Simmons. The resulting conversation is now live, and it is a revealing, uplifting and inspirational interview. It was well worth the wait!
When we talked to people who worked alongside Michael before and during the event and who continued on as his friends afterwards, we kept hearing about this enigmatic side to Michael that was part genius, part entrepreneur, part good-looking boyish cherub, and part mystery.
Head Crew Cook Carol Green said:
"Michael Lang has this little shining star over him, or he did for a long time, and I hope he still does. He had this optimism about everything and a lot of it was just Michael's kind of 'beingness'…
"There was just spoken and unspoken agreement that we're going to continue, we're going to make this happen. Everything was magical about it."
Photo © Henry Diltz
Michael Lang in his trailer office at Woodstock 1969. He was just 23, yet managed to book an unprecedented line-up of stars and attract the largest number of people to assemble in one place in history.
Michael was a man of few words. Photographer Henry Diltz remembers getting a phone call from him in his Laurel Canyon kitchen, lasting about 30 seconds. "Chip says we need you. I'm sending you $500 and a plane ticket to New York". Click.
Like Carol, Henry saw a mercurial aura about Michael that he believes was the reason Woodstock happened, against overwhelming odds.
"Every day Michael Lang would come by with his leather vest and either be on a horse, a tractor, or a motorbike. And he was so charming, very cherubic looking.
"And you know, it was his vibe, his vision, his idea that this will be three days of peace and music. And recently we did an interview together and he said, 'When things get weird, I get calm.' And he was that way."
Photo by Dion Ogust
He still is that way. After talking with Michael, experiencing that "vibe," we might describe him as a rare soul who radiates calm amid chaos, someone who has a keen ability to tap into the pulse of Our Generation and ride with it, to all of our advantage.
The late Sixties were a scary time, a time of division, corruption, anger, violence, and fear -- not that much different than our life right now. Many of us wanted something different, to stop the War, to stop the violence, to respect Nature and protect our environment. But we did not know how many of us there were.
Woodstock changed that.
Michael picked up on that "Zeitgeist" -- that Spirit of Our Time -- and channeled it into that field on Max Yasgur's Dairy Farm. But Woodstock was much more than a three-day concert. A half-million young people packed into a pasture to listen to some of the best music of that time. And it WAS peaceful; There was not a single episode of violence -- an unlikely scenario in today's troubled world.
Together with his determined crew -- the "Woodstock Family," the staggering line-up of musicians who delivered a unified message in their music, and an audience that came together into a peaceful, positive community, Woodstock became the nexus of a potent movement that changed the world.
Michael Lang and Woodstock issued a resounding statement that there was a better way, a better way of thinking, of living: Peace, Cooperation, Compassion, Understanding.... generating a spreading spirit that still lives on in millions of us, a message that is extremely relevant right now.
Listen now, and feel that positive Michael Lang vibe for yourself!
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