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Back to the Garden: The Story of Woodstock Hardcover – June 23, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Introducing his engaging oral history, Fornatale, an author and longtime New York radio personality, admits that his attempt to parse fact from fiction regarding an endlessly mythologized pop culture milestone, the Woodstock Music & Art Fair, isn't always easy. It has been four decades, after all, and most of Fornatale's 110 sources spent that rainy August weekend in a hallucinogenic haze. But Fornatale does bring new stories to light, revisits old stories and dispels some common misperceptions. Among others, festival production manager John Morris reveals how close the festival came to being shut down by the National Guard; filmmaker Michael Wadleigh explains the choices behind his groundbreaking documentary Woodstock; original Sha Na Na guitarist Henry Gross tells drinking stories featuring Jimi Hendrix; and attendee Jim Marion reflects on leaving the festival early and disappointed. Fornatale lets his subjects carry the story, providing cogent artist histories and conversational segues in this vivid portrait. (July)
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Review

"The myth of Woodstock is something in my mind that is very close to the reality. Kids today are drawn to the place. It is the history of our musical past and our artistic past. It is a story that needs to be told and I trust my friend forever Pete Fornatale to tell it." -- Richie Havens

"Pete Fornatale is a great music historian and one of the best broadcasters in America. His book Back to the Garden actually made me feel like I attended Woodstock myself. I recommend it highly." -- Brian Wilson

"I have turned down tickets to every Woodstock there's been, for the same reason: rock 'n' roll and camping have nothing in common. If you'd like to make up your own mind, tune in to Back to the Garden, Pete Fornatale's fine history of whatever hit 'em up there (in addition to the brown acid or brown rice, whichever it was). From Richie Havens to the endless repercussions, this is the tale...and even a veteran antihippie like me has to recognize it as an indispensable document of rock history." -- Dave Marsh --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; 1St Edition edition (June 23, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416591192
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416591191
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #637,905 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Quixote010 VINE VOICE on June 25, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Rather than write the definitive novel about Woodstock, Peter Fornatale makes no qualms about telling the reader right up front that his intent is to present a multitude of perspectives regarding what has been termed "the birthing event of a new generation."

He does so exceedingly well. Calling upon various participants (producers, builders, organizers, policemen, singers, writers, and even a group of Hasidic Jews nearby) Fornatale presents a well-rounded picture of events transpiring around that three-day, New York festival in 1969.

For those only familiar with the movie, Fornatale digs far deeper into the events leading up to the Woodstock rock event including details surrounding the organizers real reasons for wanting to put on a show, the importance of some of the people who created the sound and light support, and the attitude of many of the performers... some of whom had an entirely different opinion as to why they were performing.

Most interestingly, he presents oodles of information heretofore unknown to the average person like: why John Sebastion performed, why the Iron Butterfly, Jeff Beck and the Moody Blues didn't (even though they were on the original poster), and where Canned Heat came from. The background information is stunning.

"Back to Garden" captures moments, attitudes and experiences beyond the movie, for those who can only related to it from that perspective. It presents a new dimension on the whys and what-fors of Woodstock. For someone wanting the details and an understanding of the events and activities before, during and after the concert, I strongly encourage you to pick this one up.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Paul Allaer TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 29, 2009
Format: Hardcover
We're coming up in a few weeks to the 40th anniversary of the Woodstock music festival, and the market is being flooded with all things Woodstock: books, CDs, DVDs, you name it. Some of the books (coffee table or otherwise) are new (such as this one), others are being re-released (the cynic in me thinking as a quick cash-in to the anniversary). The choices are overwhelming perhaps.

In "Back to the Garden: The Story of Woodstock" (333 pages), author Pete Fornatale takes an interesting approach: not so much as minute-by-minute chronological telling of the festival, this book is instead tries to bring the bigger picture. After an interesting "Introduction", the book then brings chapter by chapter a perspective on the bands that played the festival. I found myself reading this with much more interest than I had expected. There are a lot of delicious behind-the-scenes retellings, really bringing this book to life. One thing that is somewhat jarring is that a lot of pages are spent within those band-by-band chapters on how that particular artist came to fruition (check the CSN(&Y) chapter for example). But ultimately, it's a minor quib. I found myself turning the pages, and marveled at the delightful memories bundled in this book. Very nice.

Of the many other Woodstock-related books out there flooding the market, I might also recommend the coffee table book "Woodstock: Three Days That Rocked The World", which brings (with flaws and all) an equally stirring memory of Woodstock. Avoid another coffee table book called "Woodstock Vision: The Spirit of a Generation", though, a mere re-issue of the 1994 book.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Joseph Moore on July 19, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Pete has been doing this very thing for over 40 years on the radio . He's not a musician but he is fascinated by them and their music . His book is to be read slowly , as in savoring a glass of wine . He knows many of the participants and he uses that to give the reader a look that is unique . I was there ( sort of )- my buddy and I were sent out to look for a "lost " Camp Counselor in training . We heard no music but saw a lot of folks in various conditions ! That is what Pete does here, except he " is in the front and backstage " giving the reader a real look at this incredible event
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Alydar on November 11, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
300,000 or was it 400,000 or maybe half a million or maybe 655,678 which is what I counted. This is what makes this book so great ............you hear from those who were there and it is seen is many different colored rainbow glasses. What made the book so great was the order of the chapters being the order each artist / band played. I loved the back stories and where the artists are now ( mostly dead ) and being a "big" Bert Sommer fan it was great to read about this " great unsung " artist who was there and did the most moving song of the festival, " America ". I SAY GO OUT AND GET DAVE'S BOOK NOW - TURN UP THE SOUNDTRACK FROM WOODSTOCK AND READ, READ, AND READ.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By s.ferber on September 3, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Back in the late '60s, WNEW was the hippest rock station on the then-still-new FM dial, at least here in the NY tristate area, and it was propelled by a sextet of DJs who not only played music of their own liking, but had distinct and engaging on-air personalities as well. Those DJs were Rosko, Scott Muni, Alison Steele (all, sadly, passed on now), Zacherle, Jonathan Schwartz and--last but certainly not least--Pete Fornatale. These were the men and the woman who turned me on to so many pieces of hitherto unheard music, and I and many other baby boomers owe them a tremendous thank-you for that. Anyway, when I heard that Pete Fornatale had just released a new book, "Back to the Garden," on the occasion of Woodstock's 40th anniversary, I just knew that it had to be a good one. Fornatale, as he tells us in the book's intro, did an on-air commercial for the upcoming concert in July '69, during his very first night as an NEW DJ. His 40+ years in the music biz, his contacts and his personal collection of taped interviews have stood him in good stead here, and oh...it turns out that Pete can also write pretty darn well, too!

His book largely takes the form of various interviews, from various sources, many conducted by the author himself, of some 113 (by my count) Woodstock attendees, promoters, and of course performers, not to mention music biz people, journalists, technicians, filmmakers, etc. Each of the 113 is quoted liberally; indeed, Pete can truly be said to have only "written" perhaps half of the book.
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