Check out Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young Tickets here.
Let’s not mince words.
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young have reunited for their third tour this decade, having ended a decade-plus period of dormancy in late 1999 with the sweet, aptly titled album “Looking Forward.”
This time out, however, the quartet of 60-somethings has rallied around a decidedly strident work, Young’s “Living With War,” easily the most bluntly outspoken response to the president and the Iraq war yet recorded. Slammed out in a six-day rage, the disc’s nine straightforward anthems (and choir rendition of “America the Beautiful”) scream for CS&N’s harmonies and willingness to take a similar stand.
So the often-fractious unit (“But now we’re getting along better than ever,” assures David Crosby) was reassembled once more for a trek dubbed Freedom of Speech `06.
Trust me, these won’t be your grandfather’s CSN&Y shows. Yeah, across 30-plus songs in two sets, they typically toss in “Our House” and “Helplessly Hoping” to temper the attack. But with the majority of Young’s fed-up firebombs alternating with Vietnam-era staples like “Ohio” and “Chicago” and “For What It’s Worth,” this throwback to change-the-world rock will surely be the most protest-heavy series of shows since 2004’s Vote for Change.
I had 20 minutes with Mr. “Almost Cut My Hair” late last week. And if you thought the chat wouldn’t instantly turn political, well … um … you have heard of David Crosby, right?
Orange County Register: Many critics are saying this tour has brought renewed relevancy to your music.
David Crosby: They’re right. Part of our job is just to rock you, and part of our job is to be like troubadours, carrying the news from one town to another, like town criers. And that part of our job this time is much stronger because Neil came with an entire album of immensely strong songs.
And they’re very direct songs, man. They’re not complex and wispy and out there. They’re not “Guinnevere.” They are right in your face. You know, Neil’s (angry). He doesn’t think this is a just war, and neither do we.
A lot of people in this country feel like they’ve been hoodwinked. If they’re Democrats, they feel that the elections were stolen. If they’re Republicans, they feel like their party got swiped and dragged off to the extreme right. There are a lot of people who are unhappy about the lies that have been told.
There’s a huge mistake going on there, man. It’s war for profit rather than principle, and that’s really, really a gross thing. The way we feel – we think that the young people who go to war are some of the best ones we’ve got. They’re the ones who believe in this country enough to put their lives on the line. And to send them over there so Haliburton and Bechtel and Exxon can make a profit, man? That’s just not good enough.
This administration has been disrespectful to those soldiers all along – unless they’re behind them on the TV cameras. To them, they’re just cannon fodder. But to us they’re human beings, and every one of them has a mother.
OCR: You know, I saw Linda Ronstadt two years ago, when she got booed out here.
DC: Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know all about that whole thing.
OCR: Well, I saw her again a few weeks ago. And this time, instead of dedicating “Straighten Up and Fly Right” to the guys at Enron, she dedicated it to George Bush instead.
DC: (Laughs heartily.)
OCR: This time the crowd erupted – and this is Orange County, which is as much a stronghold of Republicanism …
DC: … as there is on the planet, yeah.
OCR: But that response made me think how the mood has changed lately. It makes me wonder if you could have done a tour so overtly political even two years ago.
DC: Well, we might have. People almost expect it of us. We have been like this for a long time, you know, when most people wouldn’t do what we’re doing, now or then. But I also think that now there’s a groundswell about this.
Have you ever heard of this girl Pink? Have you heard that song “Dear Mr. President”? Holy (bleep)! That’s the thing. Two years ago people weren’t speaking their minds as much. Now it’s really coming on strong from more people.
OCR: I just saw Cyndi Lauper, and even she was doing “What’s Going On” and “Imagine.”
DC: There’s an awful lot more of it now. I mean, fair is fair: There are a great many performers who never do benefits and don’t ever take a political stand – who just don’t do anything. You know, the Janet Jacksons of the world.
OCR: That’s their prerogative, though.
DC: Yeah, I suppose. I don’t understand it. They live here, too. But they have a right to be whoever they are. I just don’t get not helping when there are so many people who need help. Even if you don’t get political at all, there are still people everywhere you can help.
I’m very happy about this tour, though, because there is a feeling inside of us of being validated – of being able to maintain what we think our contribution should be, and not just play old songs that everybody wants to hear. Yes, we can do that. We can play for five hours that way. But that’s not all we do, and it never was all we did.
This feels like “Ohio” and “For What It’s Worth” and “Long Time Gone” and all those other old songs now have more weight and new meaning. Night before last I sang, “You know there’s something going on around here that just will not stand the light of day” – and the whole audience cheered. In the middle of the song! `Cause they feel what I was talking about.
OCR: But it makes sense that people would turn to the four of you at a time like this. You are among the very few artists of any generation that has steadfastly carried this torch – of using your platform to speak your mind.
DC: Well, there’s also Bonnie Raitt, there’s Jackson Browne. There are a lot of people of principle out there. The Indigo Girls, for God’s sake – there aren’t many people who have worked harder for other people than them.
OCR: John Fogerty got back to social issues. He even wrote an anti-war song (“Deja Vu All Over Again”).
DC: Yeah, and it’s a good song, too. And Springsteen – he’s a strong guy.
OCR: But we’ve just named a bunch of people over 50.
DC: Yeah, but that Pink song … that just blew my mind out of my ear.
OCR: Does this validation come with any sense of melancholy? Those old protest songs are indestructible, but it would be better if they weren’t so relevant right now.
DC: We think that, too. We don’t think it’s really OK for us to be picking up pieces after the government. But we didn’t think we’d ever have to do benefits for AIDS research, either. We thought the government would just be concerned about it and do something about it. But for years the only people who did anything about AIDS were performers – especially Elton (John).
We’d rather that the situation didn’t exist, but it does. And it’s part of our job to look that squarely in the eye and give the most honest report on it that we can.
OCR: How does the mood of audiences now compare to how it was during, say, the Vietnam era?
DC: It’s very similar, man. The country is very, very polarized. There are two distinct sides, and they have very strong feelings. And the administration that is in power is doing a lot of the very same things that were going on during the Nixon years. What people seem to dislike most is having this administration try to marginalize them, tell them that if they don’t agree with their politics, then they are being un-American.
Which is just nonsense. We don’t agree with this administration, but we love the country. And the people in our audience seem to feel the same way. They believe in this country, in the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence. They love this place, and they don’t like having it swiped away. We don’t either.
OCR: A detractor might look at this tour and think: “They’re just preaching to the choir.”
DC: Oh, there are Republicans in the audience, too. I see `em get up and leave when we sing “Let’s Impeach the President.” (Laughs.)
OCR: See, that’s what makes me wonder how it will go down here.
DC: I guarantee you we will make some people leave. And I’m fine with that. I’m very happy to see that sort of dissent. I heard, actually, that there were going to be people picketing us at some of the places. I think that’d be great, but I haven’t seen it yet.
OCR: Neil has said part of why he made “Living With War” was because he kept waiting for the younger generation to step up and do likewise. Several young artists have issued protest songs recently, but no one’s made anything like Neil’s album.
DC: Yeah, some of them are outspoken, but not the ones that are really big stars. Neil was hoping that somebody could actually grab the wheel – get enough attention that they would become the focal point, the rallying point. That Pink song is proof that the intent is there. But, you know, how many people know about that song vs. how many people know about us.
OCR: I often hear people say that the only thing that will really shake up the youth …
DC: … is a draft. Yeah. That’s a very serious subject with me, because I have an 11-year-old boy, and if they institute a draft, which I think they very well might … . You know, they don’t have enough cannon fodder to do what they intend to do, what their plan is for the Middle East. Their enlistments are way down. They’re having to extend people from the National Guard way over, which is (ticking) them off a lot. And every time they swear they’re not gonna put a draft in, well, they’ve lied about everything else, so I kinda think they’re lying about that, too.
And if they do, then I have to leave. Because they get my boy over my dead body, and no other way. If it were a war for principle, that’d be one thing. But a war for profit? I’m sorry. Not good enough.
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young Tour Dates
1, 2 – New York, NY – Beacon Theatre
3 – Bushkill, PA – Mt. Laurel Center
5, 6 – Atlantic City, NJ – Borgata Hotel/Casino
8 – Uncasville, CT – Mohegan Sun Casino
10 – Verona, NY – Turning Stone Casino
11 – Reading, PA – Sovereign Center
13 – Vienna, VA – Wolf Trap Filene Center
14 – Solomons, MD – Calvert Marine Museum
16 – Salem, VA – Salem Civic Center
18 – Hilton Head Island, SC – Sea Pines Resort
19 – North Charleston, SC – Coliseum
Ben Wener/Orange County Register
P.S. Check out Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young Tickets here.
Technorati Tags: Music, News, Entertainment, Events, Concerts, Rock, Event, Concert, Live, Tickets, Rock+And+Roll, HardRock, Hard+Rock, Ticket, Concert+Tickets, Cheap+Tickets, Ticket+Broker, Event+Tickets, Crosby+Stills+Nash+&+Young+Tickets