Crosby and Nash get political in concert
By Daniel Durchholz
SPECIAL TO THE ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
A few songs into David Crosby and Graham Nash’s second set at the Sheldon Tuesday night, Nash recalled huddling with his bandmates around a small TV backstage at a 1974 concert and watching Richard Nixon’s resignation speech.
Crosby interrupted him, leaning into the mic and saying, “The networks just called it for Obama.”
Members of the largely graying and decidedly partisan audience whooped it up, cheering the president-elect and maybe celebrating themselves a bit, too. For if it was anything, Crosby and Nash’s concert was a virtual boomer biography, traversing the considerable distance, both in time and psychic space, between the Nixon era and the dawn of the age of Obama. The duo’s songs featured protagonists whose experiences mirrored a generation’s; fighting senseless wars, finding and/or losing love, growing older, struggling to raise families and attempting to remain vital and relevant in times of profound national upheaval.
Much of the evening’s material was unabashedly political, including Joel Rafael’s “This Is My Country,” which declared, “There will be no more war based on preemption.” Nash’s “Live On (The Wall),” was a powerful song about the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, while Crosby’s “Dream for Him,” found the singer musing over how to explain the world’s various shortcomings to his son while keeping his hope alive.
“We figure if we’re going to get in trouble all the time for being political, we might as well be (political)," Crosby said.
But the show was anything but dour and judgmental. Introducing Nash’s classic “Our House,” Crosby quipped that university studies showed that “from 1969-73, 19 or 20 percent of the young women who lost their virginity did so this next song.”
The pair performed other songs from their Crosby, Stills & Nash (and sometimes Young) heyday, including “Long Time Gone,” “Déjà Vu,” “Almost Cut My Hair,” “Guinnevere,” and “Wooden Ships.”
But some of the pair’s lesser-known works had equal impact, notably “Lay Me Down,” which showed off their still exquisite harmonies, and an impassioned new song by Nash that prayed for an end to killing in God’s name.
It’s fair to wonder about the future of protest music on the night of a liberal landslide. But as the show wound up with Nash dedicating “Teach Your Children” to “President (elect) Obama,” it was clear that while each generation writes its own songs, they all rise on a foundation laid down by the ones that came before.