Monday, November 9, 2009

Book Review #26: THE WOODSTOCK STORY BOOK by Lianne G. Sackett and Barry Z. Levine

by Linanne G. Sackett
Photographs by Barry Z Levine

Pub. Date: August 2009
Publisher: Channel Photographics
Format: Hardcover, 176pp
ISBN-13: 9780977339983
ISBN: 097733998X
Edition Number: 40
Edition Description: Special

Synopsis (from the publisher):
For three days in the summer of 1969, 500,000 people spontaneously gathered like no others had before or since then, bringing together peace, love, aromatic smoke and the sounds of the greatest rock 'n' roll show in history. Sounds and smells wafted through the air, making this legendary event one that has never been duplicated. Barry Z Levine, a member of the Academy Award-winning Woodstock documentary film team, captured this entire event. Levine arrived days before the crowds when Woodstock was still a green, grassy pasture and continued to photograph long after the last person had departed the debris-strewn mud hole. Over the course of that tumultuous week, Levine had taken so many pictures, he had blisters on his index finger and thumb from clicking the shutter and advancing the film. Levine stopped only once, for a 45 minute nap on top of a piano cover that was on stage while Blood, Sweat & Tears performed. Along with 240 full-color photographs, the text by Linanne G. Sacket presents a chronological account of this historical event, capturing the performers, personalities, audience, excitement, mood, and actions. The Woodstock Story Book is a must for anyone who was at Woodstock, wishes they had gone, or just wanted a bird's eye view at the greatest historical event of the 1960s.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

My Thoughts:

It's just too hard for me to believe that 40 years have passed since Woodstock occured. Not that I was there -- no way would my parents have allowed it and, in 1969, I was still young enough to be firmly under their jurisdiction.  But I was old enough to wish I was there. I can't help but wonder in what ways I would be different if I had experienced that unique event for myself. Ah, who am I kidding? I don't like being in a crowd. I probably would have freaked out and they'd have had to airlift me out!

Alas, for those of us who couldn't make it, it's a lot of fun to daydream over THE WOODSTOCK STORY BOOK. The photography by Barry Z. Levine is, of course, incredible. To see so many great performers in their heyday and looking so young and happy made me happy, too. Sometimes I felt as though I was looking at an old yearbook full of familiar faces but young, so much younger! And the styles! All that hair! Of course having lived through it, I understand the appeal and motivation behind the fashions, but it's still pretty funny to look back and see some things that I now think are totally ridiculous. I guess I really have passed over to the other side of the generation gap.

THE WOODSTOCK STORY BOOK is not just about the performers.  There are as many, if not more, pictures of the crowds and the individual attendees. And being as this volume is "anatomically correct," there are quite a few photos of the famed nudity that overtook the crowd in reaction to all the rain and mud. If you've got young ones at home, you might want to take a good look at the book before you let them browse through it. Personally, I didn't find anything offensive. I looked at the photos in the same spirit that everyone had when they got naked -- it's not meant to be sexual or erotic, just natural and fun.

I would have liked more commentary in the book.  There's a short Forward written by Wavy Gravy and Barry Z Levine sums things up in an Afterword. Throughout the book is rhyming prose written by Linanne G. Sackett which doesn't really serve to do much more than identify who's in the photographs. In this volume, the text accompanies the photos, not the other way around. As I said, I would have liked to read more about the event, the performers, and the audiance. I think more information would give the book a wider appeal. 

All in all, if you were there, know someone who was, or if you just wish you could have been, THE WOODSTOCK STORY BOOK is a terrific treat. I suggest sitting back with the book while you play the movie soundtrack in the backgound and just truck on back through the long strange trip!

Visit the website for THE WOODSTOCK STORY BOOK.

Visit Woodstock for even more photos of the event by Barry Z. Levine.

Biography (from the publisher):
Levine has been honored as "Celebrated Artist" of Italy's 2009 Biografilm Festival and his photographs will be on display in Rome, Milan, and Bologna.

As part of the Academy Award-winning “Woodstock” documentary team, still photographer Barry Z Levine was there, and captured it all.

A big thank you to Lisa Roe at Online Publicist for providing me a review copy of this book.


Maria said...

The book sounds good.

bermudaonion said...

I loved flipping through this book and still pick it up and look through it from time to time.

Zibilee said...

This looks like a gorgeous book! I am glad you liked it and that it took you back to those times. I might have to take a look at this one in the book store. Great review!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I love looking at pictures from this time. I need to get a copy too!

Diane said...

I loved the photos in this book. Brings back memories to those teenage years...LOL

Lisa said...

I always tell my mom that if I had been 7 or 8 years older, I would have moved heaven and earth to get to Woodstock. Having seen the movie, my mom is always pretty appalled!