Miriam Yasgur, wife of Max Yasgur, whose farm made the event possible, sketches this portrait of Lang: “It takes Michael about fifteen or twenty minutes to charm you, and having spoken to him for a while, he really put us at ease. He explained the way it was going to be, and he made it sound like everything was going to be so simple and not anything that big. He has a way of ingratiating himself – I think he’s a born con man. Even though you know you’re being ‘had,’ you can’t help but like him.”
Lang presents himself, however, as the loftiest of idealists: “For me, Woodstock was a test of whether people of our generation really believed in one another and the world we were struggling to create.” At least that’s how he opens his memoir.
The shift from the generational “we” to “I” follows soon. Lang tells of his early success as an entrepreneur running a shop selling countercultural paraphernalia (pipes, papers, posters) that evolved into producing successful outdoor concerts with big-name rock bands in the Coconut Grove, Fla., area. Any number of potentially dangerous disorderly situations were apparently defused by Lang’s unflappable nature and his cool demeanor, characteristics that served him well at the Woodstock festival. Although clearly a great music fan, Lang explains few of the reasons for his musical predilections and devotions.
He fast-forwards his narrative as he moves from Florida to Woodstock, an small, upstate, New York town with a long bohemian history. Lang’s timing for his move was astute. Woodstock was in the process of reconstituting itself as a haven for highly accomplished rock innovators like Bob Dylan, The Band, and Jimi Hendrix.