Friday, July 4, 2014

Crosby, Stills & Nash: Still Teaching

The Marrakesh Express stopped in Northern Virginia last night and a sold-out crowd at Wolf Trap got on board for a ride back to the sweet music spots of the 1960’s and 70’s.

Graham Nash established a tone of intimacy with his anecdotes about Joni Mitchell and the lyrics from I Used To Be A King:

It’s all right. I’m okay now. How are you?...
Someone is going to take my heart
But no one’s going to break my heart again.

Nash was the master of ceremonies, presiding in bare feet on an oriental carpet, introducing songs, extolling his band mates and announcing that his son had twin boys earlier that day.
Stephen Stills was the jokester, noting how the song, Tree Top Flyer, about the brave men who delivered medical supplies from Mexico to California, had been dated by the changes in Colorado law. “There are probably so many lobbyists in this audience,” he added, “We should set a lobster trap.”
And the silver-maned David Crosby said that while many people thought the group at this stage, “should be creeping off to die, we just didn’t feel like it.”

Despite the passage of time, CSN, can still deliver their timeless lyrics and mesmerizing harmonies. Graham and David had the crowd holding its breath as they performed Guinevere and Helplessly Hoping.  Stephen Stills brought it to its feet with some whip-cracking guitar solos on Southern Cross and Bluebird.

There were a couple of pleasant surprises. Nash’s new songs that paid tribute to Levon Helm (Back Home) and a protest rant against China’s oppression in Tibet (Burning for the Buddha) were as good as his classics. And they have not lost a step when it comes to political passion with I Don’t Want Lies, and Military Madness.

The backing musicians could deliver a wall of sound on cue and second guitarist (and co-lyricist) Shane Fontayne was a standout.  But the charm of this evening was the feel of a living room concert in (Our House), thumbing through the music sheets in guitar cases to find songs everyone knew and liked.

And we shook the windows as we sang word-for-word on For What It’s Worth and Love the One You’re With.

The third surprise was how many young people were on hand (much more than for the usual favorite boomer bands) and how many were with parents.  Then it dawned on me: This was the Teach Your Children Tour, which was why they saved that for the encore.

Four decades later, Crosby Stills and Nash still get it: The past is just a good bye.
And they continue to feed us on their dreams.