growing up in the garden

This is about my roots in Woodstock, New York, where natural beauty and proximity to New York City pull in different directions.

I wrote this on my way back for a visit. It recorded unusually quickly. It has lot of local references, but I think the idea is a universal one.

One part of what I mean when I say I was “raised in Woodstock” is that I was born in 1969, the year of the original Woodstock Music And Arts festival, and I identify my generation - especially those of us who grew up in the area, but also everyone my age - as “flower grandchildren,” the children of the flower children. For us, The Hippie is a bit of a tourist attraction, a bit of a history lesson, and a symbol of a legacy of Questioning Authority that’s left us, in some senses, with no remaining authority to question.

Some notes: Overlook Mountain is visible from much of the area, including the cemetery where my father was buried when I was a teenager. We used to hike up it, and at the top there was a spindly observation tower that you could climb up and get an (even more) incredible view of the surrounding Catskills. My father always went up, but I didn’t have the nerve until I was older. Opus 40 is a city-block-sized outdoor sculpture made of thousands of pieces of shale that you can walk around in and on; concerts are held there in the summer. Residents of southeast New York State (called “upstate” by New Yorkers, “downstate” by the rest of the state) typically call New York City “The City,” which reflects its importance and also its narcissism.

mp3: 
Lyrics: 

i was born and raised in Woodstock
Woodstock’s where i’m bound
it’s where i meet [last time: keep] my kinfolk
and where they’ll lay me in the ground
and if i travel around the world
and live a hundred years,
i may find some greener grass somewhere else
but i’m always going to come back here.

loving all the colors in the autumn leaves
riding on into town
looking young and hairy at the cemetery
as they laid my daddy down
lying out under the summer sun
with the sky around my lover’s face
freezing my fingers up the fire tower
setting sun above the Catskills looking out to space

playing at Opus 40
walking by The Rainbow Store
waving to the hippies on the village green
and to the turkeys by my own back door
there’s a lot of folks who want to find freedom;
most will settle for a decent high.
sometimes i’d rather be from there than be there,
but i’ll be from there ‘till the day i die.

living in those worn-down mountains
strengthens and soothes your soul.
maybe it’s left over from the Iroquois,
from when the land and the people were whole.
but living in the shadow of Overlook,
you’re in the shadow of The City too;
it’s “the city that never sleeps,”
and if i never slept, i’d be crazy too…
growing up in the middle of the garden,
watching folks around you suffer:
it’s what made you like you
and me like me
and us both like each other.

Credits: 

tjw: electric guitar, synth drums, vocals

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