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The Gift of Hindsight

Woodstock PosterThis weekend marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Woodstock music festival, the definitive event of the Sixties from a cultural perspective. Four hundred thousand people turned up to a dairy farm in upstate New York for a three-day concert.

Missing, however, were a few significant acts: the Beatles, Bob Dylan (who actually lived in the town), Simon and Garfunkel, Led Zeppelin, the Byrds, Chicago, the Moody Blues, the Doors, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor and the Rolling Stones. When it became clear that Woodstock would be unsurpassed in its musical significance, there were more than a few regrets from these performers that they had missed a golden opportunity.

Sadly, we aren’t always afforded the ability to recognise a significant moment as it’s happening, and only hindsight allows us to rue what we have missed. Of course, it would only double our foolishness to pretend that our oversight was, in fact, the right choice. It would be silly to maintain that Joan Baez, Santana, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Janis Joplin, the Who, Jefferson Airplane, Joe Cocker, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and Jimi Hendrix had no ongoing role in popular music...

The crowds in Jerusalem two millennia ago largely missed the significance of that crucifixion at Passover. It was a common mistake to make. But once it became clear that Jesus of Nazareth wasn’t just another casualty of the Roman regime, they changed their minds, in their thousands.

The only name that mattered was in Jerusalem for the festival, and his performance was not to be missed.

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