When 250,000 hippies, funk fanatics, head bangers, and punk rockers descend on Rome, New York, later this month for the 30th anniversary celebration of Woodstock, that festival’s legacy of activism and charity will likely seem as prehistoric as Watergate. Korn, Fatboy Slim and the Offspring have replaced the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin and Jefferson Airplane, Gore-Tex tents and air mattresses have replaced mud-caked blankets and naked huddles, and $5 bottles of Evian have replaced free food and free love.
By all accounts, it appears that Gen-X apathy has extinguished the passionate fires that raged during the folk revival and birth of 1960s acid rock. And although this summer’s Woodstock attendees won’t likely protest the war in Kosovo with the same vengeance as their Vietnam forefathers, it is not true to assume that they have totally abandoned the altruistic visions of 1969.
This summer alone, artists across the musical spectrum have donated immeasurable time and talent to change the world. And their fans are purchasing, attending and supporting their good will efforts with a truly dedicated spirit.
Grammy darling Lauryn Hill is destroying hip-hop stereotypes with her forward-thinking Camp Hill for disadvantaged youth. Jubilee 2000 is working to erase the debt of third-world countries with the help of musicians like U2, Radiohead, and Bob Geldof. The Surfrider Foundation has recruited artists such as Pearl Jam, Paul McCartney, and Jewel for the third in a series of environmental fundraiser albums. And the No Boundaries album for Kosovo relief has raised more than $1 million for Kosovar refugees in less than one month. Rap stalwarts the Beastie Boys are distributing a message of nonviolence and independence through their annual Tibetan Freedom Concerts.
Welcome back to the summer of love.