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Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young (and Friends): Nostalgic Reunion Print-ready version

by Elton Braude
New York Columbia Spectator
September 12, 1974
Original article: PDF

It might have been just a pleasant Sunday outing for an easy-going crowd. Youths mostly on their way out of teenagerhood, were it not for the facts that there were eighty or ninety thousand of them, and that they were awaiting the presence of some giants from the past. They came to the Roosevelt Raceway on Long Island early Sunday morning, with blankets, baskets, and packages of food from which earnest gate officials prized cans and bottles of all kinds of liquids which they tossed into huge portable disposable units.

They waited the morning patiently for the show, to begin at about 1 p.m. Jesse Colin Young appeared on stage (or on closed circuit TV for those at the back not ambitious enough to make their way to the front) for nearly an hour to a quietly appreciative audience. Then came the Beach Boys, who caused a mild sensation. Mostly singing their old favorites, they were joined by people attempting, in falsetto, to recapture the bliss of the universally hummed surf songs of the sixties. The group sang "Help Me Rhonda" and 80,000 people tried joyously to help with their hands and voices. Their rendition of the technically difficult "Good Vibrations" was the highlight of their performance and the crowd was unwilling to let them go even after a long encore. They revealed nothing new at the concert and perhaps set the tone for the day and even for this part of the '70s and its youth. There is nothing new going on, none of the thunderous movements of the Sixties, none of the exciting innovations that kept appearing in rock; there are merely variations of what has already taken place. And when it comes to that, the original is probably more enjoyable; hence the enthusiasm Sunday for the group.

Joni Mitchell was enjoyed by the audience, which cheered (as they always do) when she played her best-known songs. But she hardly attracted any fuss. When she wandered off stage to take a break people just assumed that she had finished her act. After she had done her final number at the end of her second set she was applauded but allowed to leave quietly.

Following her, late in the afternoon, was L.A. Express. Nothing particularly exciting. Only the Beach Boys had aroused the crowd at all. It was obviously a day for the past. The future developments of Rock had nothing to do with the people of Roosevelt Raceway that Sunday.

They waited till it was dark, when they might glimmer under bright white lights and waver between the soft blues and the furious reds of the colored lights before they came on. The voice of Stills, singing "Love The One You're With," was heard, and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young were on. The adventurous at the back braved the thick horde and pushed their way as far to the front as they could. The group played a few songs together, as usual dividing their time into segments, first for "electric music" and then for "wooden music," with a rousing "electric" ending. Throughout the "wooden" segment each played some of his own songs assisted with harmonies by the other members as well as by Joni Mitchell (Crosby, Stills, Nash, Young and Mitchell?), whose appearance was met by loud cheers. Neil Young played some of his well-known songs from his best-selling LP's but, encouraged by the warm reception from his audience, he stayed on, to the apparent chagrin of Nash (judging from his expression), and played some of his lesser known moan-drone songs. Things picked up again when David Crosby played some of his songs, including "Almost Gut My Hair," which was momentous in the sixties—and is still great, diminished importance not- withstanding. He was afforded a most enthusiastic response from his listeners, which thrilled him so much that he was prompted to say, quite sincerely, "I'm the luckiest fucker alive." If he'd had it his way the group would have stayed all night.

Stephen Stills played some of his songs, singing as well as ever, but coming close to marring the pleasant atmosphere by gracelessly admonishing the eager crowd not to clap in time to one of the group's quieter songs. (The situation was saved by a blissful-looking Crosby.) He played a version of his "Black Queen" a la Hendrix, which sounded strangely progressive, and a song from a forthcoming album which could have come from a previous one.

They ended the show with some of the stirring songs they played at the end of Four Way Street, returned for an encore, and, after having finished their final performance of their U.S. tour, bade goodnight to an audience who must be beginning to wonder how soon it will be before the Sixties, with its hippies, addicts, and revolutionaries, will be nostalgically serialized in "Happy Days"-type television.

Elton Braude '76C is a foreign student

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