Woodstock – the only real Woodstock, the one in 1969 – lasted just three days. But its memory resonates to this day not only for the thousands who were there but for millions who heard the recordings and saw the film footage. New releases of that documentation have introduced new generations to the spirit – or the spirits, since there were both good and bad – of Woodstock. On July 29 the newest iteration will appear: a Limited Edition Blu-ray release of the 40th Anniversary film Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace and Music.
While reading up on Tupac Shakur recently to report on the upcoming Broadway musical featuring the late rapper’s songs, I learned that more than 50 posthumous Tupac albums have been released. Record companies and artists’ estates have long been well known for repeatedly repackaging a dead artist’s material for new releases and new profits, but 50 albums by someone who had died in his 20s seems a mite excessive.
With Woodstock, it’s a different kind of excess. For one thing, many of the artists who performed during that muddy extravaganza are still very much alive. For another, Woodstock was a singular event, not a career or a body of work.
Yet in a sense it is a body of work – a body of songs, played at a one-time-only gathering of a particular set of artists. The documentary Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace and Music, probably the most iconic artifact of the festival, doesn’t include anywhere near all of them – if it did, it would have to be days long. There’s plenty of concert footage that’s never been released before, and other footage whose availability has been limited. The new edition contains a whole bunch of it, including The Who’s “Pinball Wizard,” Melanie’s version of “Mr. Tambourine Man,” CSNY’s “Helplessly Hoping” and “Marrakesh Express,” and footage from Jefferson Airplane, Joan Baez, Santana and others. Also included are, among other segments, interviews with Martin Scorsese, Michael Lang, Hugh Hefner, and Michael Wadleigh, director of the 1970 Woodstock film, of which Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace and Music is the four-hour director’s cut.
All told, the new package includes the director’s cut plus 18 performances grouped as “Woodstock: Untold Stories” and a series of interviews combined as “Woodstock: From Festival to Feature.” A few new premiums, like reproductions of Woodstock tickets, round out the set. It will be available July 29.