Friday Night. Santa Barbara Bowl. Crosby Stills & Nash. Perfect weather.

It was Nettie’s birthday gift. 7th Row Center. Amazing seats.

For me, it was my first time seeing them. For Nettie, it was seeing them again after forty years…

She was a CSN groupie. She saw them five nights in a row at the Greek Theater. She was one of the “tree people,” the hippie kids who climbed up a tree and over the fence to see their favorite band for free. It was a time long ago. An age of innocence.

Tonight, the years disappeared. Time was suspended. Age had no meaning.

Close your eyes. Hear the voices. Close your eyes. Hear your heart beat. Close your eyes. Be yourself again.

Yes, the songs were perfectly selected. Yes, their playing was effortless. Yes, their singing was remarkable. Harmonies, fills, leads, microphone banter, all of it was masterful. But none of it describes the magic that emanated from the stage.

What was it that filled the air?

Their spirit…and ours, too. I know that sounds pretentious, but there’s just no other way to say it. No other way to describe how we felt, Nettie and I, as the evening enveloped us.

David Crosby, the teddy bear presence with the cherubic grin, Stephen Stills, the joyfully intense guitar man, Graham Nash, the piercing social critic and romantic, inside all three is a collective presence of pure music.

It’s a rare thing, believe me, to see three become one in front of you. I’ve seen Stills and Neil Young with Buffalo Springfield. I’ve seen Nash by himself. I’ve seen Crosby by himself. The three of them together, though, is something else entirely.

I do know how inept words are at capturing such effervescence in a performance. How helpless it is to hope to catch lightning in a bottle. It’s something you cannot teach your children. They have to experience it for themselves.

When Crosby began the opening chords of I Almost Cut My Hair, I knew the words I needed were in there, words I’ve repeated countless times through the years of my life.

I almost cut my hair. It happened just the other day. It was getting kind of long. I could have said it wasn’t my way. But I didn’t and I wonder why. I feel like letting my freak flag fly. I feel like I owe it to someone.

Yes, CSN owes it to us and they gave it here tonight. We owe it to them. And, of course, we owe it to ourselves. To remain true to who we are. To remain ourselves in the face of whatever forces come at us.

And when the encore of Sweet Judy Blue-Eyes began, Nettie ran down to the stage. I lifted her onto the floor speakers that ringed the edge. And from this perch, with the outline of her hair as if in the branches of a tree, she sang along with her rock ‘n roll heroes.

David Crosby looked over at her, nodded, and smiled to girl of his dreams.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6 Responses to CSN Redux

  1. Mark says:

    I believe the correct thing to say here is: “Far out man!” Sounds fun!

  2. Maxwell says:

    Wish we had been with you. Sounds like it was magical.

  3. Frank Z says:

    Thanks, Stef, it was outta-sight and far-out. Really groovy.

  4. Stephanie says:

    Sounds like an awesome night for you and your hippie girl friend. Love you guys!!

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