For What It’s Worth

The last event of the Orlando@50 AARP gathering was a powerhouse concert featuring stars from the sixties. Richie Havens opened the show, and yes, he sang “Freedom” during his set. Next up was Judy Collins and she covered favorites from “Diamonds and Rust”, through “Both Sides Now” to “Send in the Clowns”. When a creative talent like Richie Havens and a skilled performer like Judy Collins are opening acts, the headliners had better be extraordinary. David Crosby, Steve Stills, and Graham Nash are extraordinary. I was fortunate enough to attend what may have been my first Crosby, Stills and Nash concert with my pal Tex, a screamer in the best Rock ‘n Roll concert going tradition. She kept the place charged up from the first song right through the last encore. None of that emotion was forced. It came straight from the heart. And the damaged larynx. Thanks again for the energy Pattie! (There’s a footnote here. I may have heard them live back in the day, at Winterland or the Fillmore Auditorium or whatever, but I’m comforted by Paul Krassner’s observation that if you can remember the sixties, you weren’t there.)

The trio, backed by some phenomenal sidemen on keyboards, bass, and percussion, opened with the Joni Mitchell song, Woodstock. A good place to start and they just kept going. They didn’t stint. Throughout the concert they didn’t cheat us out of a single extended solo, or mad improvisational jam. They just kept rocking. You shoulda been there.

Here’s the rest of the set list…

  • Military Madness, Graham Nash’s song. Just a reminder that we don’t have the cultural awareness or opposition to the wars that we demonstrated in the Vietnam era. Could that be because our leaders finessed the need for a draft by committing the National Guard to combat and hiring mercenaries for the real dirty work?
  • Long Time Gone, from the debut album released in 1969. They reached way back last night, and we oldies who remembered it were glad they did.
  • Buffalo Springfield’s hit, Bluebird, drew the best out of Steve Stills, reminding me once again why I sometimes just thank god for the Fender guitar.
  • Marrakech Express, by Graham Nash is another tune from the debut album. Nash wanted to record it earlier with the Hollies. I’m glad he saved it for the CS&N group.
  • Southern Cross, co-authored by Stills, comes from a time more recent in the band’s history. It’s less than thirty years old. It’s a good song, but for me it’s not a grabber.
  • A grabber would be the Stones’ Ruby Tuesday, an acoustic version of which the trio performed last night. Crosby claimed they may record it.
  • Deja Vu (see below)
  • Suite: Judy Blue Eyes, another one from the eponymous first album and from the live performance at Max Yasgur’s place.
  • Almost Cut My Hair, no worries though. David’s still got his freak flag flying.
  • Wooden ships, a Crosby, Stills, Paul Kantner composition that starts with a dark and gloomy apocalyptic vision and lightens up to that freeing moment when all of us hippies sailed away and the war culture drowned in its own misery. Wait. Did that really happen?
  • We weren’t a very demanding audience, nor as appreciative as others on the long Crosby, Stills, and Nash tour undoubtedly had been. In fact, the concert was more of an entertainment than a rite. So with a long, well wrought “Wooden Ships” as the final number, many of us were ready to head to the hotel shuttle buses, go home, and get horizontal. It was a real energizer when the applause coaxed them back on stage for an encore.

  • For What It’s Worth, “Stop children, what’s that sound,” Steven Stills’ amazingly prescient 1967 hit, recorded by Buffalo Springfield, still brings a frisson of paranoia back to those of us for whom it was anthem of powerlessness in the face of the global chaos emerging in the sixties.
    … and a second encore:
  • Teach Your Children. This song carries as much compelling warmth and hope and compassion as “For What It’s Worth” projects fear and foreboding. I’m not sure I believe Graham Nash when he claims the Diane Arbus shot of a kid with a toy grenade inspired the song.

The concert was powerful, exciting, and moving. It choked me up. The concert again proved that Steve Stills remains the best living lead guitar player, David Crosby made the right move when he left the Byrds, Sir Graham Nash is some kind of Brit, even today, and that Crosby, Stills and Nash are much more than Just Another Band From LA.

Posted in Blogging and Flogging, Creative Arts, Friends, Music Tagged with: , ,
20 comments on “For What It’s Worth
  1. Elizabeth says:

    Thank you for the review. Wish I could have been there! By the way — perhaps one of these days Graham Nash, OBE, will get a KBE, too. (I hope so!)

    • (Didn’t mean to be disrespectful, and in fact don’t know the difference between an OBE and a KBE. Are they both called “Sir?”)

      • Elizabeth says:

        A KBE – Knight of the British Empire – is only a few ranks above Graham’s recent honor – he is an Officer of the British Empire. The lower ranks sometimes get promoted; (Sir) Paul McCartney was once ‘just’ a Member of the British Empire. Technically, even if the queen knights Nash, his being American as well as English now would mean that he can never be addressed as ‘Sir Graham’, but he would have the right to have such a rank put after his name, just as he can be referred to as ‘Graham Nash, OBE’. Did you know that Crosby and Stills were supposed to have coined a new nickname for him — ‘Obi-Wan’?

        Not at all disrespectful of you – if anything, it shows your admiration of Graham!

        • Not clear then on why Winston Churchill, upon being honored with US citizenship was still called “Sir.” Perhaps it was just a common usage and not technically correct.

  2. Don Harvey says:

    Cool. Get some sleep.

  3. Fran Ransley says:

    Gee, now if I had just renewed my membership!
    I saw C,S&N (sans Y) at Konocti Harbor a few years ago, and they did pretty much the same repertoire. I had never seen them before, or if I did, I don’t remember it, lol.
    The concert was outdoors with a strong, cold north wind coming in off the lake. Somebody told Stephen Stills, who was as cute and funky as ever, he should take off his jacket (huh? why?) and he said, “Fuck you.” Got a crush on him all over again.
    When they sang “For What It’s Worth,” I was momentarily transported back to my rickety desk in the sorority house at UW Eau Claire, staring out the window into the cold black of night and wanting to do anything but study. Disgusted with the Monkees, the Turtles and Petula Clark, I was about to switch off the radio when this song came on.
    At first I couldn’t figure out what the song was about. What people in what streets? What paranoia? This was Eau Claire, we still swilling beer, and none of the three or four guys who comprised the local SDS chapter were hot.
    Had to move back to Madison to finally “get it.”

  4. joared says:

    Sounds like you had quite a blast that last night at the concert. Great recap!

  5. Thanks for the set list reminder!

    Hope I didn’t destroy your close range hearing too much!

    I had a GREAT time, and glad to share the evening with a very cool guy who “gets” it still…

  6. Peter Tibbles says:

    Sounds like a great concert, particularly Judy Collins, of whom I’ve been a fan for many a long year.
    I would have to argue about the best lead guitarist around. I would suggest that Albert Lee has that mantle these days. Check out (and I’m doing a bit of shameless promotion here) http://www.timegoesby.net/weblog/2009/10/elder-music-guitarists.html

    • Whenever I say “the greatest” this or “the best” that, I’m aware of the limits of my experience. I usually mean it when I say it, but paradoxically I know the qualifier is meaningless. Does that make sense?

      Albert Lee sure is good! Clean, intentional, well wrought licks for sure. Thanks for introducing me to him.

      It was a good concert and a chance to see some real rock stars, but there are all kinds of qualifiers lurking there for me as well. Buffalo Springfield, and the Byrds – both with and without David Crosby moved me more and further than CSN&Y. Steve Stills is a great lead guitarist, but I’d trade him for a few hours of Jerry Garcia on the banjo.

      And how about that Doc Watson? May I recommend the Milk Cow Blues? http://il.youtube.com/watch?v=TXYycvVKJlA&feature=artist

      I enjoy the Sunday columns you do at Time Goes By, Peter. The breadth and depth of your experience is AMAZING! Thanks for dropping by here today.

  7. Don Harvey says:

    How cool is this? I am lying in bed and reading your blog on my I-pad and right in the middle of it I can watch a movie of some old guys singing something. I don’t know what they’re singing about but it’s sort of neat that they’re right there in the middle of the stuff you wrote…only they’re singing about something. How cool is that? In my book this is majorly advanced blogging!
    I’m hot for cowtown Pattie.

  8. I think it’s some kind of Irish folk dance or something. Here’s the girl you’re hot for (hope she doesn’t mind my posting the snapshot… Pattie? Just yell if you want me to tear it down!!)

  9. Don Harvey says:

    OK, now I’m totally smitten!

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