A Trip through 1969 with Author Sea Gudinski

Each new day is carved under the shadow of yesterday in the light of our hope for tomorrow. Our environment, society, and culture are forged and shaped by memories, some more recent than others. In 1969, I lifted a single snapshot out of the photo album of time, one that depicts a critical juncture in the world’s recent past.

Sea Gudinski

Music is a medium that transcends time, culture and the stories kept – then transformed into song. The crossroads of 1969, music, pop-culture and the political climate grew into a timeless entity for millions – in particular Woodstock. A lifetime spent obsessing over every minute detail of the era would still not prepare you for what author, Sea Gudinski has done with her first novel, 1969: A Brief and Beautiful Trip Back. The high school graduate opted out of college, and in result, this book appears inevitable from her birth. 

Both Gudinski’s parents lived through the 1960’s; her father was a veteran, musician and immersed in the counterculture of that time. In fact, the 1969 Woodstock experience was “an event that he felt dramatically influenced his life,” said Gudinski in an article by Susan Murphy (seagudinski.com). But how can a young author depict events decades before her time? Perhaps, her parents and surroundings sparked the flame, but six years of calculated, and frankly impressive, research led to all 569 pages appearing in print. It is something your high school curriculum of Jack Kerouac’s On The Road, or Tom Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test could not prepare you for. Gudinski was lost in an era, between the pages, and soon, you will be too.

1969: A Brief and Beautiful Trip Back begins behind the eyes of  the naïve Rhiannon Karlson, a female drummer, dreamer and typical-teenager. In the first few pages Karlson lost herself in a dream amongst the Fresno heat. My daydreams always begin with a drumbeat: slow, concise–like a heartbeat manifesting the imagery I conjure up into the realm of reality. At first, that is all I hear–my drumbeat–and then quickly, quietly, the rest of the band begins to fade in. 

Gudinski overloads the readers stimulus with the precise details and feelings of each object, and character. Tangents on the soup-like air, introspective assumptions of her friends thoughts, and the powder-blue bubble letters on her band’s flyer seem unnecessary or irrelevant. However, the reader soon will lose sight of the words and become lost, dead-center of Karlson’s world. These details paint a tapestry of emotion as they reel on vividly in your mind – the key that will soon unlock Karlson’s world, and yours. 

Desperate to land a record deal with her band, The Descendants, Karlson is a music-junkie through-and -through, that is, when she is not bickering with her mother. The clash drives Karlson to take a magical crystal substance out of a pink baggie. A silver pipe ‘intricately decorated with motifs that had been rubbed smooth from use,’ sparks Karlson’s imagination as to who used it before her; and where it had taken them. Rightfully so, she is swept up in a dream. For the reader it is hard to differentiate between Karlson’s daydream, a trip or reality. Gudinski does a beautiful job creating a fervor in the hearts of each reader for what is to come. And down the rabbithole we go.

A specially curated playlist highlighting the music of Gudinski’s novel.

For NYS Music fans, and musicians alike, 1969: A Brief and Beautiful Trip Back delves into the greats: Janis Joplin, Hendrix, the Grateful Dead, The Beatles, Clapton and more. Hints of Karlson’s musical quest mirrors that of the musicians she idolized and tastefully sounds an era that undeniably shaped the industry for the better.

Gudinski is passionate and unyielding in her quest to turn ever pebble in the sea of 1969. Nothing goes unnoticed and is explored through a kaleidoscope, ever-changing and beautiful. This book is great for anyone curious – a young teenager, aspiring musician or someone who wants to relive their formative years in the 60’s. It is relatable and enjoyable to the masses. 

Although,  it would be interesting to debate the thoughts of those who shaped the 1960’s counterculture against Gudinski’s work. All of which would seamlessly collide.

Not only did the popular books on 1960’s counterculture and beat movement shape Gudinski’s novel, but also films: Michael Wadleigh’s 1970 documentary, Woodstock; Easy Rider (1969); Twilight Zone; and Authors: William Brautigian, Michael McClure, Horatio Alger and more. Remarkably, 1969 hinges on the personal encounters and stories of Gudinski’s loved ones and peers – which makes each page so addictive.

Although this is Gudinski’s first published work, she has written a total of six books. An impressive debut novel only begs the question: what will Gudinski reach for next? When? Looking up at the stars, limits simply do not exist for the creative mind of Sea Gudinski.