Tag Archives: Woodstock setlists

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

Sweetwater Woodstock

Sweetwater Woodstock

August 15, 1969

Intro by John Morris

Richie Havens had jumped started Woodstock and the second performance  there, following  Sri Swami Satchidanandas convocation, was the band Sweetwater who’d been stuck in traffic.

The band’s poor luck continued when in 1970 none of their performance was included neither on the 3-record movie soundtrack nor the 3-hour movie.

Their set began around 6:30 PM and were on stage about an hour. An interesting piece of trivia about the band was it had no guitarist.

They had released their first album in 1968.

Sweetwater's debut album

The band members were:

Nanci Nevins: guitar, vocals
Albert Moore: flute, vocals
August Burns: cello
Alex Del Zoppo: keyboards
Fred Herrera: bass
Elpidio Cobain: conga drums
Alan Malarowitz: drums

And their set consisted of:

  • Motherless Child
  • Look Out
  • For Pete’s Sake
  • Day Song
  • What’s Wrong
  • My Crystal Spider
  • Two Worlds
  • Why Oh Why
  • Let the Sunshine In
  • Oh Happy Day
Sweetwater Woodstock

Motherless Child

Another bit of Woodstock Sweetwater trivia would be that the last song Richie Havens had sung was Motherless Child. What did Sweetwater open with? Motherless Child. The traditional song was one that many bands covered. Their version was less emotional, but longer and since it was a larger band playing, this version was more intricate, more percussive as was the band’s style.

Sweetwater Woodstock

Look Out

Nanci Nevins wrote Look Out. It is interesting to hear a rock band without a rock guitar, or any guitar for that matter. Flute, keyboards, lots of percussion.

Look out, somebody’s comin’
He’s got the key to your door
He ain’t who you thought of
He’s not what you’re lookin’ for

Sweetwater Woodstock

Alex Del Zoppo

Before the next song, keyboardist Alex Del Zoppo explains the reason for their being late part of which was that the “man” had to stop them and bust them.

Sweetwater Woodstock

For Pete’s Sake

Nanci Nevins describes For Pete’s Sake  as a bosso nova blues. It is an instrumental and was their third single released on June 18, 1969.

Sweetwater Woodstock

 Day Song

The band described Day Song: “We’re doing a thing now, it’s sorta’ a folkie thing, it was written by Nanci and it’s about a captain and so forth sailing his ship and it includes Nanci and her acoustic guitar and the cello…”

Captain sailed the ship today
Old Love, she just sighed
Met his mother on the way
They stopped and cried
Cat on the sill
See the sad rain fall
Do as you will
I love you more than all
Old Love sailed the ship today
Captain he just sighed
Met her father on the way
They stopped and cried
Cat on the sill
See the sad rain fall
Do as you will
I love you more than all
Sing the song of sailin’ away
Sing it from your heart
Sing the song of sailin’ away
Even though we part

Sweetwater Woodstock

What’s Wrong

One of the nicest things about Rhino Record’s Woodstock release is the inclusion of stage announcements and stage patter. The collection gives a much fuller “there” experience to the listener.

Before beginning What’s Wrong, Nanci Nevins mentions that Alex had written the song and that he wrote a lot of their material. She also goes to mention Albert’s t-shirt has the band’s name on it. I suppose she felt she needed to remind the audience of the band’s name. Keep in mind that Sweetwater is technically the festival’s opening act and opening acts are typically not the best known of the performers at a show or festival.

Also heard is the sound of a helicopter in the background. it is no Woodstock Haze that that sound was often part of the whole experience.

Specifically topical protest songs were not the norm at Woodstock. That the event was a protest rally is often thought but hardly supported. Having said that, What’s Wrong heads in that direction:

What’s wrong in our schools?
Politicians are blowing their cools
Over they who refuse to abide by the rules
Though they should be separate dealings

What’s wrong at the zoo?
The animals sense all our fears coming through
Our facade yet there’s not a thing that they can do
It’s hurting their poor, helpless feelings
What’s wrong?

The song is nearly 15 minutes long and gave the band a chance to display its chops.

Sweetwater Woodstock

My Chrystal Spider

The Psychedelic Sight site ranks My Crystal Spider at #47 on the top psychedelic songs.

The crystal spider crawled into Alex Del Zoppo’s brain in a waking dream. A “fantasy experience” that yielded a surrealistic web of sound for his band, Sweetwater.

While “My Crystal Spider” ranks as the most psychedelic of Sweetwater’s songs, the songwriter says his creepy-crawly creation wasn’t necessarily the product of an altered state:

“Psychedelic substances may have helped to bring this into focus, but it is not about that,” keyboardist Del Zoppo says today.

“It’s about having a runaway pet spider in an unusually whimsical environment.”

Have you seen my crystal spider
He has eyes of mercury
He has left his web of paisley
Be aware, if you care
Would you please
Send him back to me

Have you seen my crystal spider
He has eyes of mercury
He has left his web of paisley
Be aware, if you care
Would you please

Sweetwater Woodstock

Two Worlds

The band goes right into the next song, Two Worlds. It was one of the five songs in the set that had appeared on their first album.

I’ve got two worlds
But I don’t belong
I’ve got two ways
Neither’s very strong

But I’m singing songs
And working too hard
I can’t stop living
I never get tired

I’ve got two loves
To keep me satisfied
No loving pain
Ever made me cry

I’m not afraid
I just want more
The things I’ve got
Is all I live for.

At the end of the song, Nanci, as many of the Woodstock performers mentions, “There sure are a lot of people here.” She then introduces the band members.

Also said at this point by another of the band members (Moore?) is: “All you cats on the sound tower got to get down…you got to come down. You gotta!

That constant reminder/request/demand that kids get off the sound towers was dominant theme of the weekend.

Sweetwater Woodstock

Why Oh Why

Here’s a little music to come down the tower by.”

This is music to get down on your knees by…so I hope you can dig it.”

I wonder what a Sweetwater song would have sounded like had they had an electric guitarist? This song is an exciting one, but I keep hearing the missing guitar licks.

Why oh why do I keep on trying. Why oh why when I know there’s
No denying. You know that I love you baby, and you know that
Love is true. If I can’t count on you baby baby then you know
What I might do.
Why oh why do I keep on telling myself that your too hip your
Gonna put me on a shelf.
Sweetwater Woodstock

Let the Sunshine In/Oh Happy Day

The band seques right into two covers: Let the Sunshine In from the then very popular play Hair and Oh Happy Day, the  very successful 1968 single by the Edwin Hawkins Singers.

Hey the west coast really gets things started!” John Morris

Interestingly, the Bert Sommer is the next performer and he was not only in the play Hair, but his hair and head appeared on the show’s first Playbill.

Sweetwater Woodstock

Richie Havens Woodstock

Richie Havens Woodstock

It took 50 years for most people to hear all the music from the Woodstock Music and Art Fair.  The rumors were that It was out there. Boxed. Stored. Warehoused.

Bootlegs of much existed, but where were the originals? We even found out that some of the cuts on the original 3-disc album weren’t from Woodstock!

In 2005, producer Andy Zax found the  boxes. To use the word painstakingly is an understatement, but over the next 14 years Zax worked with the tapes and in 2019  Rhino Records released the 38-disc box entitled Woodstock – Back To The Garden:The Definitive 50th Anniversary ArchiveOther somewhat smaller offerings were also available.

Over that half century, The Woodstock Music and Art Fair had became an iconic event not just musically, but socially as well, and as with any historic event, the story often took on a life of its own. “Woodstock Haze” is a phrase alum Charlie Maloney coined to describe such inaccuracies.

Richie Havens Woodstock

Richie’s Set

One of the more famous Woodstock stories is that to avoid further delays the fretting and anxious Woodstock Ventures organizers coerced Richie Havens to open.

Havens stepped onto the stage accompanied by Paul “Deano” Williams and Danielle Ben Zebulon.

Richie’s recollection was always that after nearly 2 1/2 hours, singing every song he knew, he  left the stage in a state of sweat-soaked exhaustion. Sweat-soaked exhaustion? Yes. 2 1/2 hours no. 45 minutes.  Woodstock Haze.

Hello. How are you?

Before he began, the caring Richie speak to the crowd.

Hello. How are you? How are you in the back?  Can ‘ya hear? Groovy…wow…it’s really beautiful to see so many people together. I know it might be a tiny bit uncomfortable, but so can sleeping…be…a tiny bit uncomfortable. “

His set was as follows:

  • From the Prison > Get Together > From the Prison
  • I’m a Stranger Here
  • High Flyin’ Bird
  • I Can’t Make It Anymore
  • With A Little Help from my Friends
  • Handsome Johnny
  • Strawberry Fields For Ever
  • Motherless Child/Freedom
Richie Havens Woodstock

From the Prison

Richie Havens is well known for covering others’ songs and at Woodstock he opened with Jerry Merrick’s From the Prison with abit of Dino Valenti’s Get Together in between.  From the Prison had appeared on Havens’s 1968 Something Else album.

To be kind to the next door neighbor
To be kind to the jailhouse screw;
To be kind to a child, in the fantasy wild
Is the best thing you can do
Is the best thing you can do

As simple as Havens’s presentations typically are, his guitar style combined with Williams’s guitar and Ben Zebulon’s percussion create a wonderfully effective and immediately engrossing moment.

From the Prison had appeared on Havens’s 1968 Something Else Again album.

Richie Havens Woodstock

I Am a Stranger Here

His second song is another has a familiar beginning which echoes his Motherless Child/Freedom encore.  The song had appeared on Electric Havens in 1968.

In the late ’60s, as Havens rose to stardom, producer Alan Douglas of Douglas Music had taken some original solo demos and overdubbed them with electric instruments. He called the album Electric Havens and it was one of of two albums (the other being The Richie Havens Record) of similarly overdubbed solo demos probably recorded from sometime between 1963-1965 before Havens’s first official release on Verve,  Mixed Bag  [from AllMusic. com].

I cannot find the person who wrote this song. Perhaps Havens himself.  Jerry Merrick did write a song with the same title, but it is not the song Havens sung at Woodstock.

Richie Havens Woodstock

High Flying Bird

There’s a high flyin’ bird, flying way up in the sky,
And I wonder if she looks down as she goes on by?
Well, she’s flying so freely in the sky.
Lord, look at me here,
I’m rooted like a tree here,
Got those sit-down, can’t cry,
Oh, Lord, gonna die blues.
Billy Edd Wheeler wrote the song. From a Citizen Times articleHis songs have been recorded by a musical Who’s Who: Elvis Presley, Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn, Glen Campbell, Judy Collins, The Country Gentlemen, John Denver, Hazel Dickens, Richie Havens, The Kingston Trio, Tim O’Brien, Roy Clark, Tom T. Hall, Chet Atkins, Jerry Reed, Kenny Rogers, Hank Snow and others.
Richie Havens Woodstock

I Can’t Make It Anymore

Written by Gordon Lightfoot, fans had fallen in love with this song already. It was also from Mixed Bag.

I get too low with no reason
You say its the moon or maybe the season
But something’s not the same
And I won’t let my mind believe
Baby, something’s wrong
Or the feelings gone
I can’t make it anymore
I can’t make it anymore.

Richie Havens Woodstock

With A Little Help From My Friends

Obviously a Beatle song and as good as Havens’s version it (and still is) will be Joe Cocker’s cover on Sunday that will become the Woodstock cover of this song.

Interestingly, Richie Havens was still learning the lyrics as he asks the crowd to sing along and he sort of helps them and they sort of help him. The both sort of succeed.

Richie Havens Woodstock

Handsome Johnny

Photo by Jim Shelley

Havens’ was rarely obviously political, but the song Handsome Johnny is an exception to that rule.  Louis Gossett, Jr co-wrote the song with Havens. At Richie Havens’s memorial service held on August 15, 2013 at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, Gossett told the story of how a letter arrived for him just he, a struggling Hollywood actor, was about to be evicted from his apartment.  Inside the letter was a check from Havens. The check was for royalties earned from Handsome Johnny.

Hey, what’s the use of singing this song, some of you are not even listening.
Tell me what it is we’ve got to do: wait for our fields to start glistening,
Wait for the bullets to start whistling.
Here comes a hydrogen bomb, here comes a guided missile,
Here comes a hydrogen bomb: I can almost hear its whistle.

Richie Havens Woodstock

One Hundred Million Songs

After Handsome Johnny, Havens spoke to the crowd.

There’s a hundred millions songs gonna’ be sung here tonight. All of them gonna’ be singing about the same thing which I hope everybody who came, came to hear…really…and it’s all about you…actually. You, me, and everybody around the stage and everybody who hasn’t gotten here and the people who are gonna’ read about you tomorrow. Yes. And how really groovy you were.

He then went on to talk about the clogged roads and that the reason was because though promised at the 1939 World’s Fair, the road construction had never happened. Why? Maybe we didn’t vote.

Sage words even today.

Richie Havens Woodstock

Strawberry Fields Forever

While the Beatles themselves may not have attended Woodstock, their songs were. As he typically did, Havens made the song his own.

Let me take you down
‘Cause I’m going to Strawberry Fields
Nothing is real
And nothing to get hung about
Strawberry Fields forever

Richie Havens Woodstock

Motherless Child/Freedom

He’d been on stage about 42 minutes by the end of Strawberry Fields and he walked away to Zebulon’s percussion. MC John Morris. the crowd wanted more.

A MOMENT was about to happen. Havens began playing and repeating the word freedom.

Eight times.

He then moved into Motherless Child, traditional song that dated back to American slavery. A child torn from those they loved.

It would be a vast overstatement to say the primarily white male audience at Woodstock could relate to those lyrics, but enough alienation existed in 1969 among that audience that they felt like they knew.

Richie Havens Woodstock