Bert Sommer Woodstock

Bert Sommer Woodstock

John Morris intro…notice his asking people to “take a seat.” Funny!

You hear John Morris adding an “s” to the end of Bert’s not s-ending last name. I guess from that point, we should have known that things were not going to go well for Bert.  He is another of the missing musicians from the the album, the movie, as well as the Monument!

The other missing from the Monument are Keef Hartley, Quill,  and Tim Hardin. John Sebastian’s last name is spelled “Sabastian” and though not a “performer” as such, Sri Swami Satchidananda is missing as well.

And as long as we’re pointing out monument (yet not monumental) errors, of course the name of the event was the “Woodstock Music and Art Fair” (not “Arts”).

Definitely playing with Bert were:

The  setlist of his approximately 40 minute stage appearance was:

  • Jennifer
  • The Road To Travel
  • I Wondered Where You’d Be
  • She’s Gone
  • Things Are Going My Way
  • And When It’s Over
  • Jeanette
  • America (Paul Simon)
  • A Note That Read
  • Smile
Bert Sommer Woodstock

Jennifer

Bert Sommer had appeared in the popular play Hair, and according to the Many Fantastic Colors site,  fellow Hair performer Jennifer Warnes inspired him to write his opening song which had also appeared on his first album the Road to Travel (1968) which was produced by Woodstock Ventures’ Artie Kornfeld.

Jennifer’s something you handle with care
Fragile as crystals of glass
Jennifer’s lips are as soft as the air
Kissing her here in the grass

Whoa, I’m lost in a maze
Counting the ways that she smiles
Time is slipping away
Lost in the arms of her love
So gentle and wild

Bert Sommer Woodstock

The Road to Travel

Bert Sommer Woodstock

The name of Sommer’s first album was The Road to Travel. It was his second song at Woodstock.

Here it is, it’s summertime
Still I haven’t felt my sigh
And the years are over too, since I’m gone
And my daddy wonders why
How I look and make him proud
But I’ll carry on his name when he dies

Though the years of headache pain
I’ll continue on the game
To the further road that I can travel tonight
Find my peace, of mine

Papa says it’s straightened out
Look in what my life’s about
Try to use the head that god once gave you

Bert Sommer Woodstock

I Wondered Where You’d Be

If you wonder how to play the song, you can follow this link to the song’s chords.

Seems like I’ve been here forever
Hoping you’d jangle your keys
Hours went by
As I started to cry out and show you
All of me
And as I’m laying here awake
Lost in the cost of a dream
Thinking of someone
I felt was the loved one
I wondered where you’d be
Bert Sommer Woodstock

She’s Gone

As somber and beautiful as Sommer’s songs are, before he begins his next song, he calls out in a friendly way, “Anybody from Forest Hills?” referring to an area of Queens, NY where he grew up. He then asks for a bit more volume in his acoustic guitar. He begins the song and then quickly says, “Too loud.” The song was also on his first album.

Nights by the fire when she was there
Now all I see is an empty chair
She’s gone and this man is dying

There was a time when I’d laugh and sing
All I have left is a dusty reign
She’s gone, there’s no purpose in trying

The door stays open in the day
The lock still broken
And the way I feel without her here
Is very strange and won’t change.

Bert Sommer Woodstock

Things Are Goin’ My Way

He says he want to speed things up and sings Things Are Goin’ My Way. The song gives electric guitarist the chance to do a bit more.

When I was a young man I never had a penny
My pockets always empty couldn’t turn to anyone
But then I met you one happy Sunday
It seems the things are goin’ my way
Now I see that where love is there in your life
You will find that everything’s right
‘Cause it’s so easy a-to find someone
Just try harder and you’ll find that it’s done
When I was a school boy I never was a scholar
I never earned a dollar, didn’t have a place to go
But then I met you and now I must say

It’s seems the things are goin’ my way

Bert Sommer Woodstock

And When It’s Over

Before Sommer can continue, we hear an audience chant, “Come on down” referring to those who have climbed onto the sound towers to view but in doing so threaten to destabilize the towers themselves as well as block the view of those sitting behind it.

MC John Morris 

follows up on the chant with, “Like they say, come on down man. You’re gonna’ make us sit here and wait so we can’t hear the man sing until you come on down. Let’s go. Everybody. On the top, too. Let’s go. Man, you are not bigger or big enough to insult an artist who’s sitting on this stage who’s here to play for you. So get down off that tower!”

Cheering follows.

“Come on, creep, come on down.”

The crowd chants, “Down! Down! Down!

Morris apologizes to Sommer (again adding an s to his name). Sommer chuckles and asks the crowd if they know the band the Vagrants, a group he had been in and a group that changed its name to Mountain and would appear the next day.

And when it’s over
And as you like your cigarette
Feelin’ much older
Knowin’ that ill was no regret
Touchin’ your shoulder
Feelin’ the joy in what we’ve done
As we’ve sailed it to the sun
With our hearts and souls as one
Feelin’ free as the sea
And when it’s over
Gazin’ into your gentle light
Pullin’ you closer
Knowin’ what experience said alright
Both of us powdered
Now that is nothin’ left to hide
As we reach to touch the sky
On the love we play so high
Feelin’ free as the sea
Oh, as we sailed it to the sun
With our hearts and souls as one
Feelin’ free as the sea

Bert Sommer Woodstock

Jeanette

He asks Joanie (?) to stand up for a second, says to the band “Let’s do Jeanette next. Someone to shout out something. Bert responds “Fuck you, man”  and receives cheers.

Chords anyone?

Jennifer’s heaven, for Jenny I’d stay
Skin shining white as a dove
Lying beside her I melted away
Into her river of love

Whoa, I’m lost in a maze
Counting the ways that she smiles
Time is slipping away
Lost in the arms of her love
So gentle and wild

Jennifer’s something you handle with care
Fragile as crystals of glass
Jennifer’s lips are as soft as the air
Kissing her here in the grass

Whoa, I’m lost in a maze
Counting the ways that she smiles
Time is slipping away
Lost in the arms of her love
So gentle and wild

Jennifer’s heaven, for Jenny I’d stay
Skin shining white as a dove
Lying beside her I melted away
Into her river of love

Into her river of love
Into her river of love

Bert Sommer Woodstock

America

For the only time in his set, singer-songwriter Sommer did a cover.  Tradition has it the the first standing ovation for any artist was for his version of Paul Simon’s America. It’s interesting how he feels it necessary to tell the audience that it’s a Simon and Garfunkel song. His version really did resonate with the crowd.

Bert Sommer Woodstock

A Note That Read

Sommer introduces the two band members before his penultimate song.

You could hear him screaming
As he looked beyond the door
His only son was lying in a heap upon the floor
And from his wrists that opened wide
His life had flown from deep inside
And in his hand a note that read
It’s better if I’m dead
‘Cause this whole life was bad,
All the times we never had
I can’t say it’s been nice because it wasn’t
And, mama, please forgive me if I’ve messed the rug
But you can have it cleaned tomorrow
Oh, and you’ll find some excuse to tell your garden club
I’m sure they’ll all express their sorrow
You could see them running
As they tried to get some help
Yeah, the neighbors all were pourin’ in
To say how bad they felt
How could this happen in our town
I hope it doesn’t get around
And in his hand a note that read
It’s better if I’m dead
‘Cause this whole life was bad,
All the times we never had
I can’t say it’s been nice because it wasn’t
And, daddy, even this can have a good side
‘Cause here’s your chance for cutting all my hair off
Oh, and from today I’ll never let you down again
‘Cause now your biggest problem is taken care of
Bert Sommer Woodstock

Smile

Before his last song hee says “If you just smile, everything will be alright.” Words true then and true now.

Why should you be angry?
Why should you be sad?
Don’t be disappointed
Just smile
Just smile
Smile and the world smiles with you
Smile, all the love is in your hands
Smile ’cause we all need one another
It only takes a song to understand
I know that we’ve got to get together
A-doin’ all we can
It will start to make it better
It only takes a song to understand
Why should you be angry?
Why should you be sad?
Don’t be disappointed
Just smile
Mmh smile
Smile and the world smiles with you
Smile, all the love is in your hands
Smile ’cause we all need one another
It only takes a song to understand yeah
I know there are so many different people
A-doin’ what they can
And they all would a-love to reach you
It only takes a song to understand
Come on, smile and the world smiles with you
Smile, all the love is in your hands
Whoa you’ve got to smile, ’cause we all need one another
It only takes a song to understand. Alright!
Whoa smile and the world smiles with you
Smile, all the love is in your hands
Whoa we’ve got to smile, ’cause we all need one another
It only takes a song to understand. Yeah!
And it only takes a song to understand
Smile!

John Morris says, “The rather magnificent Bert Sommers.” 

True.

Bert Sommer Woodstock