|Blogs > sparkee58 > The Cunning Linguist|
...i'll light the fire...
...i'll light the fire...
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
Freedom of Speech Tour "06
The airport is due east from the Palm Beach County fairgrounds and planes flew directly over the stage at the Sound Advice Amphitheatre. That was the first thing I noticed as we walked the grassy, gently sloping lawn and positioned our rented lawn chairs center stage. We were a group of eight and they had already arrived and were set up. It was still early evening and a steady breeze off the ocean kept the oppressive heat at bay. As the sun began its descent and slowly disappeared behind the amphitheatre the crowd thickened behind us and soon it was filled to capacity with 40,000 excited people.
I was at a concession stand getting an eleven dollar rum runner when I heard the opening song, "Flags of Freedom" from Neil Young's new cd, "Living with War".
We rushed back to our seats and the show began in earnest. There they were on stage, David Crosby, long white hair gently blowing, dressed unpretentiously in a brown, Wal-mart tshirt and faded bluejeans. Steven Stills, behind the keyboards, in black, silver haired. Graham Nash in a colorful Florida shirt and shorts, strumming his guitar. But my eye was transfixed on Neil Young. He wore a floppy green bush hat and a loose long sleeved army tunic and bluejeans. A giant American flag was used for the background.
The band broke into more songs from the Young cd. We weren't close enough to the stage to make out intimate details but there were four big screen monitors that gave closeups. The opening salvo of the song "Living With War" blistered out and I felt it in my heart. Nobody in our group had heard these songs before; I had the lyrics memorized from constant play. The screen showed the intensity of Young's face as we both sang the song:
"I'm living with war in my heart
I'm living with in my heart and my mind
I'm living with war right now"
The next few songs, "The Restless Consumer", "After The Garden" and "Shock and Awe" showcased Young and Crosby, Stills and Nash seemed to integrate fully into his music. Young, I had heard, always puts his heart into his music; it is like oxygen to him. He needs it to survive. This was the music and the lyrics of an angry man, a man who sees the wrong things happening and refuses to "bow to the thought police".
Next, they played several songs that showcased the other members. Graham Nash stode center stage with an acoustic guitar and sang a story I wasn't familiar with, and then Steven Stills did the same. I regret I can't tell you the names of the songs they played; I'm not a professional reviewer and am too lazy to research. These easy ballads, though, put the crowd in a subdued, mellow mood. A peace sign had now replaced the flag in the background. The band broke for a twenty minute intermission.
Time for more rum runners. The tickets had cost almost a hundred bucks and after all the drinks, we easily spent two hundred fifty. Scattered vendors in tiki hut booths had tie dyed tshirts for sale at fifty dollars and hats at forty. It might be a protest rally, but capitalism thrived. Plastic bottles of longneck beer were seven dollars. The entire venue was filled with different booths. Planned Parenthood gave out brochures, the Democrats had a table to register voters and older, wiser longhaired men strolled along with their long skirted women like walking a prominade from the '60s. Peace signs were flashed in greeting.
We got back to our low lawn chairs and the second act began. They sang some early acoustic songs and the crowd calmed to silence. It had become dark and we saw the landing lights of a jet as it approached the runway a few miles away. Joints were now being passed around (a family area had been cordoned off) and the mellowness of the music, the sweet harmonies of the familiar voices, seeped into the crowd and we held it in our lungs for a long time.
An old style microphone on a stand was brought out and Neil Young tied a large yellow ribbon around it which fluttered like something alive in the warm summer breeze for the remainder of the show.
There was a silence and then the four of them spread out on the stage until they were abreast and the monitors did a close-up of silver-haired David Crosby with his acoustic guitar and Steven Stills sang softly:
"I'll light the fire.
You place the flowers in the vase
that you bought today"
Everybody knew that song. The entire crowd sang softly with them. Raw emotion and love spread through the audience as old protesters hugged and many tears fell. Everybody, including myself, put their hand on someone they loved. It was an amazing performance. Tears are falling on my keyboard right now as I try to remember it. I'll never forget those few minutes as we sang and the unending horrors of the world were gone. Behold, the power of music.
Next, they picked up the tempo with old CSNY songs, "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes", "Wooden Ships", and the twanging steel guitar of "Teach Your Children". A large backdrop of a bullet ridden gowned female was shown as they launched into "Ohio".
Then a backdrop changed to a large combat helmet and Neil Young took centerstage with his electric guitar and it wailed like a dirge. A close-up on the monitors showed an intense man intent on getting his message out and this particular song, "Roger And Out" seemed to me to be the heart of his new cd.
"Trippin' down that ol' hippie highway
Got to thinkin' about you again
Wonderin' how it really was for you
And how it happened in the end
But I guess I'll never really know the truth
If you were really all alone
We were just a couple of kids then
Livin' each and every day
When we both went down to register
We were laughing all the way
That's when we named it the hippie highway
I still call it that today
Roger and out good buddy
I still call it that today
Two Cameros racing down the street
Feels just like yesterday
Roger and out good buddy
I feel you in the air today
I know you gave for your country
I feel you in the air today
Roger and out good buddy"
The slide guitar ended and a Canadian flag was unfurled behind as they began "Immigration Man." That brought the crowd to its feet, where they remained the rest of the show.
The screens flashed the words like kareoke when the anthem "Let's Impeach the President" was played next and we all sang along loud and defiant. I kept looking up at the jets overhead and halfway expected Jeb to fly over and dump a holding tank on us, especially during the chorus, which was simply two words, "flip...flop," repeated over and over as the screens showed a bewildered George W. Bush saying "Dead or alive" and "bring 'em on" and the lies about WMDs in Iraq and Saddam and Al-Queda together and the "nuclar" weapons there. It was pretty effective to see lie after blatant lie they used to start this war of choice.
The songs are blurring in my head but I remember the screens showing full face pictures of the almost three thousand American troops killed in action. And that's a hell of a lot of pictures. It had a powerfull, chilling effect to look at those young faces and the earlier photos of the flag draped coffins arriving home at Dover Air Force base that were shown during, "The Restless Consumer":
"Don't need no more boxes I can't see
covered in flags but I can't see them on TV"
They showed them to us, held them out in their palms for us to gaze upon and digest in our "hearts and our minds".
The show ended too soon. Nobody moved. I heard myself shouting "Encore" over and over. The crowd shouted "More! More!". After a few minutes of suspense they wandered back onstage and Young took the microphone and said:
"This is for all you old hippies."
As soon as the first notes of "Woodstock" sounded the crowd erupted into cheers and clapping. Lighters and lit cell phones filled the air. We all sang along.
"We are stardust
We are golden
We're caught in the devil's bargain
And we've got to get ourselves back to the garden"
It was a glorious moment and a fitting end to a wonderful, smart...strike that. A HELL of a show.
Try as we could, and we screamed for fifteen minutes or more, there was no second encore.
8/10/2006 6:42 am
Sounds like a great time.|
There is a difference between a good BJ and a bad BJ.
8/10/2006 7:07 am
Thanks for taking us to the show with you. Felt like I was right there. This may not be a "Professional Review," but I believe that's a good thing. Thanks again, man.|
8/10/2006 8:17 am
Glad to hear you enjoyed the show. |
No Day Is So Bad It Can't Be Fixed With Great Sex!
8/10/2006 10:04 am
...mmm contact high...|
8/10/2006 10:33 am
Thanks for reminding me how important CSNY was in my early political life...Great post....I need a break.|
8/10/2006 10:42 am
I've been waiting for this post.|
Send it to my best friend, who will be attending when the tour inches its way up north a little.
What blew me away when I saw CSN about three years ago was those voices - perfect harmonies and clear as a bell. Could voices get better over time? I don't think but they come close.
Also, I've been thinking a lot about the underlying issues of this tour, your recent posts, etc. Yes, the war is bringing it to a head, but that's more of a symptom than the root issue.
I don't know what has happened to us as a generation, but it's time awaken the ideals from back then, and find powerful, quick and practical ways to get on track with them.
Yeah, I'm still [blog 1hotwahine]
8/11/2006 8:07 am
I had to come back and read this again today. Even better the second time. Okay with you if I post a link to this in my blog?|
8/11/2006 10:41 am
Takes me right back to the good old days when I was unencumbered by children, responsibilities and aging. And it reminds me that sometimes all it takes is one voice to make a change. Perhaps each of us could be the one voice...|
8/12/2006 12:36 pm
That was an extrememly well written and nostalgic review, sparkee. I felt like I was there... and maybe I was. *laughing*
Even that leftwing stuff seems to fit in that atmosphere. Before that generation grew older, and wiser.
8/12/2006 10:09 pm
FrankPicasso sent me here. Great post that got me thinking how CSN&Y have sung protest songs through two foolhardy adventures. How was it that those who saw the mistakes of the first, like Cheney and Rumsfeld, did not learn from them?|
We need another Gandhi or Mandela for our present woes.
Until then there will be a need to cement our culture with songs.