Woodstock. August 1969. Wow! A whole half a century ago already. If you can remember it, you weren't there, as the saying goes.
1969. Same year as Easy Rider hit the road: Get your motor runnin', Get out on the highway, Lookin' for adventure, And whatever comes our way, Steppenwolf blasted out.
And just last week, bang on the 50th anniversary, the eponymous Easy Rider himself – Peter Fonda, aka Captain America – shipped out on the ultimate highway to the Great Beyond. RIPped.
We're all familiar with the famous Jane Fonda Workout. There was a joke about the Peter Fonda Workout: get up at 2 in the afternoon, burn a few spliffs, then later on mosey down to your sister's place and borrow a couple of grand.
But in reality, over the years Fonda kept himself pretty busy in the film business, with a goodly share of both critical and financial success.
The Woodstockers and the Easy Riders had certain things in common, but they weren't exactly soulmates. The Woodstockers were into freedom, dope, and world peace. For the bikers, it was mainly just the freedom and dope.
We know what happened to the iconoclastic long-haired, ape-hanging easy going Easy Riders. Their general "un-American" attitude was all a bit much for the red-necked white crackers down south. A couple of good ol' boys in a ute catch up with them on a Louisiana back-road and wet blanket their easy riding by blowing them away with a shotgun. Many saw it as an allegory for the death of true American freedom. Fonda's character wasn't called Captain America for nothing.
Meanwhile, many of the hippy-dippy, free-loving, tripped-out, skinny-dippers on Max Yasgur's dairy farm near Woodstock in New York State were also getting blown away, but not quite so literally.
In fact, a momentous mini-miracle was unfolding. Nearly half a million mainly young counter-culture types had managed to find their way to Yasgur's farm, approximately 150km northwest of New York city, and settled in for three days' exposure to possibly the greatest array of contemporary musical talent ever assembled in one place in the entire history of the planet.
Between torrential rain, bad trips, pestilential latrines and a general serious lack of logistical facilities for the undreamed of multitudes, for many it turned into a hideous nightmare. But for most, the whole happening was a transformative - if not transcendent - experience.
It seemed to betoken a New Age. Perhaps not quite the "Aquarian Exposition" advertised - after all, the true Age of Aquarius isn't officially due to kick in for another 600 years or so. But for three days a half million souls had let it all hang out in a sea of mud and blissed-out ocean of music, and nary a contrary word was heard. It did truly seem to betoken a New Age of something-or-other.
Youth were looking for something more than the consumerist American dream that their parents had gratefully grasped in the aftermath of WWII.
But alas, much of the idealism soon unravelled. Many discovered that chowing-down on soybeans on an isolated commune somewhere wasn't really their cup of tea. And with kids coming along and the bills that went with it, they were soon back trying to get a foot on the career ladders they'd spurned.
Vietnam war casualties kept on coming, and before too long Hendrix, Joplin and a bunch of other Woodstock headliners were dead and buried too.
Woodstock nevertheless marked an epochal cultural event – a confluence of new technologies, new music and new ideals had coalesced and briefly floated on a spring tide of social and spiritual optimism.
The hippy age is generally patronisingly derided these days. But they were the shock troops that smashed a raft of moribund social stereotypes and unsustainable environmental attitudes.
And, for a brief moment, it even seemed as though peace did indeed have a chance.