Disappointed because her management refused her permission to enter the Woodstock festival site due to an appearance on the Dick Cavett Show the following Monday, Mitchell resigned herself to watching the festival on television in New York City.
Saddened by missing the event of her generation, Joni was inspired to write the song by imagining she was there. Mitchell recalls: “It hurt…it was like I was the grounded daughter, but the boys get to go. Most of the song was written on the last night of the [festival], out of frustration of being disallowed to go. Crosby, Stills and Nash heard it later and asked permission to record it.”
Crosby, Stills & Nash flew back from the festival on Monday night and made a surprise appearance on the Dick Cavett Show, on the night of Mitchell’s appearance. Her heart sank as the band described Woodstock for the audience.
Woodstock soon became referred to as an anthem for a generation and for the late 1960’s. It was also noted in “Break, Blow, Burn: Camille Paglia Reads Forty-three of the World’s Best Poems” where she said it was one of the greatest poems of our generation.