They may be heavier and grayer but Crosby, Stills & Nash haven’t lost their edge and a trip to Salem Civic Center Tuesday night with Fred and Ann First brought back memories of the 60s, war protests and caring about causes.
Mixing old songs with new, accoustic with hard, driving rock and nostalgia with currency, CSN often brought the crowd to their feet and kept all of us tapping and clapping along with their songs for more than two-and-a-half hours of solid entertainment.
Their two encores brought back even more memories, first with Stills’ haunting For What Its Worth protest song from his Buffalo Springfield days and, finally, with Teach Your Children.
I met Graham Nash last year while studying digital printing with Mac Holbert, his partner in the Nash Editions print operations in Los Angeles. Holbert, the road manager for CSN back in their heyday, is considered one of the best digital printers in the world and I jumped at the chance to study his techniques. Nash, an expert photographer, turned out to be a master printer as well.
And I talked with Stills on the phone in 2003 while negotiating with he and his manager for permission to use For What It’s Worth as the background music for a short film on the World Trade Center attacks on September 11, 2001. That film won two awards for editing and the song helped both the flow and impact.
While Stills’ voice, hoarse from age, lacks some of its old drive, his driving guitar playing made up for any vocal shortcomings and both Nash and Crosby’s voices hold up well with age. I miss the fourth harmony of Neil Young but he’s off playing bluegrass now (among other things).
A fun evening, one that brought back memories of a magical time as well as encounters with two fascinating men. And, given the situation in the world today, their songs hold as much meaning now as then.