The legendary Woodstock music festival of 1969 was three days of peace, love, and music. It was also three days of havoc, overcrowding, and mud. The muck, resulting from days of torrential rain, was a particular problem, as the unexpectedly huge crowd of 400,000 tramped endlessly through Max Yasgur's New York farm fields, churning the rainwater into the ground, like an army of unshod winemakers. In some places, the mix was more than a foot deep.
Somehow over time the memories of pasture mud, unsanitary conditions, and food shortages receded into the background, perhaps because people prefer warm recollections to painful ones. What's left is the sense of community, with so many people coming together in relative harmony for a concert that in part defined the '60s, and the music, with performances by Jimi Hendrix, the Who, Janis Joplin, the Jefferson Airplane, Carlos Santana, the Grateful Dead, and Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, among many.
Next month is Woodstock's 40th anniversary, an event that has spawned an array of celebratory books, including "Woodstock: Peace, Music & Memories," "Back to the Garden," "Woodstock Revisited," "Woodstock: Three Days that Rocked the World," and "By the Time We Got to Woodstock." Then there's Michael Lang's "The Road to Woodstock," his memoir of rising from head-shop owner to concert promoter and one of the festival's driving forces. Lang will be in town to discuss his new book, which also ncludes includes festival playlists and updates on the participants, on Friday, July 17, at 7 p.m. at Brookline Booksmith, Coolidge Corner. Don't be surprised if it rains.