ROCK ‘N’ WRITE
You know things are out of whack when you bring your work to the bedroom. But my wife has been out of town for the past couple weeks and I’ve got a deadline looming on a big biography. So I’ve been keeping my laptop beside my bed, enabling me to write until I fall asleep, and then resume the moment I wake up.
A few nights ago I was in my room, plugging away on the manuscript when I heard music coming from the kitchen. Soon I’m tapping my knee and singing along.
Who guides this ship
Dreaming through the seas
Turning and searching,
Whichever way you please?
Speak to me, I need to see your face,
Shadowy captain, in a darkened space.
Then it dawned on me – Lydia is away. So who is in the kitchen, blasting “Shadow Captain” by Crosby, Stills & Nash?
I left my room and followed the music. It led me to my 20-year-old son, who was cooking a late dinner.
“Good music,” I yelled.
After turning down the volume, he said: “Look what I bought today.”
“Where’d you get that?” I asked.
“Tumbleweeds,” he said, referring to a local store that sells all things vintage – vinyl albums, t-dye shirts, concert posters from the sixties and seventies.
“CSN” was the first album Crosby, Stills & Nash released after the departure of Neil Young. It peaked at #2 on the Billboard chart in 1977 with classic hits such as “Just a Song Before I Go” and “Fair Game.” More importantly, that record defined the California sound of rock and roll for the next decade.
The minute my son showed me his discovery, I drifted back to my parents’ Chevy station wagon. It had an 8-track stereo, and my dad would insert “CSN” and sing along while he drove.
Dark star, let the memory of the evening
Be the first thing you think of
When you open up your smile and see me, dark star
I was eleven back then. So it made me smile to see my son holding a vinyl copy of “CSN.” The bigger question, of course, was why did my 20-year-old son go out and purchase a Crosby, Stills & Nash record that predated his birth by two decades?
It’s simple. David Crosby has agreed to perform a concert to benefit my non-profit Institute for Writing and Mass Media at Southern Virginia University. And Tennyson is working on the concert. This all started a couple months ago when I took my son to Crosby’s home in southern California. While we were there, David talked a lot about writing and the power of words. He also shared stories about Jimmy Hendrix, Joan Baez, John Lennon, and some of his other contemporaries. We discussed politics and American history, as well. It was an eye-opening experience for my son, or, as he put it, a little more stimulating than college.
David is one of the more thoughtful and thought-provoking people I know. He is a poet who writes music that reflects the things he cares about – peace, love, understanding. While we were there, I asked David if he’d be willing to perform a special concert to help raise money for my non-profit Institute for Writing and Mass Media. He immediately said yes. It was just a question of finding a venue and a date.
The timing is right for something like this. David is the rare musician who is producing more music in his seventies than most musicians make in their twenties.
He has also surrounded himself with a new band composed of young, super talented musicians. Last year they released “Lighthouse,” which Rolling Stone called Crosby’s “finest since the Seventies.” Here’s a little more from the Rolling Stone review:
“Lights twinkle, flicker, blaze, and sparkle throughout David Crosby’s finest solo album since his melancholy 1971 masterpiece ‘If I could Only Remember My Name.’ A subtly cohesive set of tunes reflecting Crosby’s politics, spirituality and emotional maturity, ‘Lighthouse’ is an unusually robust late-career move radiating inventive musicianship, relaxed self-assurance and gently cantankerous autumnal wisdom.”
At 51, I particularly related to songs like “The Things We Do for Love” because it reminds me so much of how I feel about the woman who is my best friend and lover. Here’s some lyrics:
At first it's just fun
But love is long
A little each day
You build it that way
David’s got another record coming out in April. In a couple of weeks, he’s going on a national tour to support it.
The last stop on the tour is in Maine at the end of May. So David decided to add one more date. Now the tour will end in the town where I was born – New London, Connecticut. The city is also where my book Little Pink House is set. Last year David wrote the theme song – called, “Home Free” – for the movie that is based on my book.
The movie should be out later this year. And theme song appears on David’s new album. So it will be a historic night when David delivers a command performance on Memorial Day at New London’s Garde Arts Center, a theater that rivals the venues on Broadway.
A couple weeks ago, my students from Southern Virginia University spent a few days with me in New York and Connecticut. During their visit, I took them to the CBS affiliate, where I went on the air to announce that David Crosby tickets were going on sale.
Radio host Lee Elci is a longtime friend and a big CSN fan. He welcomed my students and took time to teach them about his craft.
Meantime, David is cultivating a bunch of new fans. Can’t wait for the show.