Friday, July 31, 2015

Get Ourselves Back to the Garden: Marilyn Monroe plays Woodstock

Marilyn Monroe at Woodstock
Among the strangest, most informative on-stage appearance of all time would have been Marilyn Monroe at the Woodstock music festival.

Few imaginations can deep-dive to such dark, intriguing fathoms.

She doesn't belong on that stage. She doesn't belong to the 1960s. But why? Your responses are keys to the Kingdom of appraising popular culture.

But there she is, 1950s America’s undulating, glittering gift to 1960s America’s mud-and drug-soaked denizens of the forests and trees.

Maybe she’d begin her set with ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’, because the song’s playful mockery of materialism would hang well with anti-establishment hippies. Or perhaps she’d just kick it with ‘Heatwave’, as the raw, unbridled sensuality of the lyrics could only lubricate the gears of sexual revolution.

Who knows. A monologue would have been appropriate, in which she discussed her foster homes, sexual abuse and mental illness – issues sure to rile a socially sensitive crowd.

Marilyn would have been okay. Unaccompanied and alone, she’d appear petite on Woodstock’s massive stage, ghost-like in the spotlight, swaying on heels, already beginning to blur at the edges, losing her grip. 

The crowd would grow quiet, straining to hear her whisper, witnessing the moment when the torch-bearer of one generation, exhausted and lost, releases the thin green Gatsby light to the next. And it can only happen with a torch song. So she remembers ‘After You Get What You Want, You Don’t Want It’  to say au revoir.

“And tho' I sit upon your knee
You'll grow tired of me
'Cause after you get what you want
You don't want what you wanted at all”

More a confession than a song, less an epilogue than an epitaph. She would look up, confused to hear an owl in Westwood Village Memorial Park gardens.

Joni Mitchell, watching from the other side of the room, would try to make sense of a different garden:

“Well maybe it is just the time of year
Or maybe it's the time of man
I don't know who l am
But you know life is for learning
We are stardust
We are golden
And we've got to get ourselves
Back to the garden”

"Walk toward the Green Light"