August 16, 2017

"[Stephen] Stills may be hobbled by arthritis—backstage he bumps fists rather than shakes hands with fans..."

"... he has carpal tunnel and residual pain from a long-ago broken hand, which affects his playing—and he is nearly deaf, but his performance life has continued. Drugs and alcohol may have dented him somewhat, forming a kind of carapace over the youthful sensitivity and cockiness one often saw in the face of the young Stills. Some might infer by looking at the spry James Taylor or Mick Jagger that heroin is less hard on the body than cocaine and booze, which perhaps tear down the infrastructure. ('Stills doesn’t know how to do drugs properly,' Keith Richards once said.) But one has to hand it to a rock veteran who still wants to get on stage and make music even when his youthful beauty and once-tender, husky baritone have dimmed. It shows allegiance to the craft, to the life, to the music. It risks a derisive sort of criticism as well as an assault on nostalgia."

The novelist Lorrie Moore writes a book review (NYRB) for a biography of Stephen Stills

I'm interested in reading the review because Lorrie Moore wrote it. I don't particularly care about Stephen Stills, but if Moore wants to describe him, I'm up for hearing about his carapace and his infrastructure. And I do love this one song...

... which I believe somebody brought up in one of the comments sections this morning. Let's see. Ah, yes. Here it is: pacwest said:

The tune that has been running through my head for a while now is:

"There's something happening here
What it is ain't exactly clear"
That always seems to relate to what's happening, because there's always something.

And then pacwest says: "Guess I'm not the only one. Snark beat me to it." Scroll up to Snark, who quotes sparrow. Sparrow had written:
Funny I was thinking about these verses today. FWIW I think we need to reject the chaos and embrace charity and courtesy, but then I'm counter-cultural by nature.
Sparrow was talking about the song I was blogging about, which is The Byrds, "Turn, Turn, Turn." I was blogging The Byrds because in an earlier post, about the ripping down of Confederate monuments, Matthew Sablan had said:
We should just pass the Great Renaming Act for streets and buildings so the Byrds, Kennedies and other racists or misogynist names are stripped from their buildings.

Washington and Lee will naturally also be renamed.
Me, always looking for an escape route, I said, "Hey, I love The Byrds!" and put up the new post.

Anyway, sparrow's "FWIW" got Snark linking to the old Buffalo Springfield song and adding:
Confoundingly, the idea that "nobody's right if everybody's wrong" seems to be the argument of those both sympathetic to Trump's "all sides" beliefs, and those that find that morally repugnant.
And then Birches said:
I just thought today felt like a Buffalo Springfield song and then I saw the snark and pacwest comments. I've been thinking of the line "mostly saying hooray for our side."
Pacwest again:
There is some self reflection in that song that seems non existent in today's situation.
I don't think it's nonexistent. I just think the kind of people with the feeling expressed in that song do not go to rallies or riot in the streets. We stand back. We observe. We reflect. We long for peace and love.


Roger Sweeny said...

And then there is Elvis Costello, "What's so funny 'bout peace, love, and understanding?"

Anthony said...

Daylight Again is one of my all time favorite albums. It was mostly a Stills project.

gspencer said...

"It shows allegiance to the craft, to the life, to the music."

Or it shows a lack of common sense, or an inability to recognize that it's beyond time to call it a day, that the fickle hand of fate has moved on.

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.

Michael K said...

Some of us even move to Arizona to get away from the Crazies in California.

I was back in LA working the last two days and had dinner with my kids and grand kids. My kids, two of them anyway, are thinking of retirement and making some preliminary plans. Three of my kids are all planning to move out of California when they retire. One is still in her 30s but bought a piece of property in Idaho.

The only place I have to deal with crazies anymore is in blog comments. I enjoy your blog, Ann. There are some interesting commenters. Not just buwaya and the others who are conservative with moderation. Shouting Thomas has moved on, I guess. The lefties are mostly following a script. Maybe they all really think exactly alike. A couple seem to have qualms at times.

Anyway, I will take my radical leftists at a distance. Tucson, being a university town, has its share of crazies but I don't see them.

Thanks for the blog,

mccullough said...

It's a plastron that formed on Stills, not a carapace.

Unknown said...

Great song, but what a horrible sound mix on that version!

This is how it should sound:

Bay Area Guy said...

Great song! Reminds me of the better part of the hippie era:

There's something happening here
What it is ain't exactly clear
There's a man with a gun over there
Telling me I got to beware
I think it's time we stop, children, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down

There's battle lines being drawn
Nobody's right if everybody's wrong
Young people speaking their minds
Getting so much resistance from behind

-Buffalo Springfield, "For What its Worth" (1967)

sunsong said...

Good song. I was just listening to this:

Colin Hay

PJ said...

Nice to see young Richie back there, who went on to lead a different sort of life-worth-writing-about.

Heartless Aztec said...

The "horrible mix" is due to the Buffalo Springfield actually playing the song live. If you look carefully everybody is plugged and actually playing and singing live - unusual for television shows from the 1960's that were usually lip synched to the recording/record. The resulting mix was from the tv engineers in the booth. Good on the Buffalo Springfield for staying true to their performance and - from an experienced studio rat - the live mix they gotfrom non rock mixers and a shitty room. It ain't that bad. Kudos.

stever said...

I think Duck and Cover, plus a few assassinations and four dead in Ohio inoculated from any angst about statues

Snark said...

Neil Young once abandoned Stills In the middle of a Stills-Young tour via a telegram backstage that said “Dear Stephen, funny how things that start spontaneously end that way. Eat a peach. Neil."

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Just when you thought the 60's and the political BS was mercifully in the past.

I also have been thinking about some of those lyrics and songs of the time. For What It's Worth was one of those songs.

On a trip back from the North Pacific Coast (Eureka) my husband and I were listening to a radio station that was playing that genre. Good music BTW!. Hotel California came up and we were discussing the meaning of

Please bring me my wine'
He said, 'We haven't had that spirit here since nineteen sixty nine'
And still those voices are calling from far away,
Wake you up in the middle of the night
Just to hear them say...


Relax,' said the night man,
We are programmed to receive.
You can checkout any time you like,
But you can never leave!

Hubby said. "Wow that sounds ominous. Can never leave."

My take was that those who have the 1969 vintage thoughts, radicalism and indoctrination keep it with them all their lives. You can check out, age, move, but mentally you can never leave. You don't have to have actually been alive during that time, but if you are infected with the it seems the current leftists are,(infected with a virulent strain of 60's radicalism) can't get out of it.

You see this mindset in our aging political class....especially the Democrats. They think it is still 1960; like an ageing and aged Nora Desmond they had reached their peak in the 60's and are still clinging to trying to be relevant.

Snark said...

The "horrible mix" is due to the Buffalo Springfield actually playing the song live."

This would surprise me. That recording doesn't seem to deviate a hair from the radio/album version.

Churchy LaFemme: said...

13 August 2014. Hmm about 3 years ago..

Snark said...

I think the Eagles have said Hotel California was about the corruption of wealth and success, which is kind of antithetical to 60s movements.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

@ Snark

That interpretation very well could be. Just like poetry (which I don't understand and never have) interpretation seems to be up to each individual. So a poem can mean one thing to one person and something else to another and basically not much to me :-)

Unknown said...

It is NOT live. The insane reverb on the chorus, changes in volume and tone, plus other factors prove that. It sounds like someone spliced together multiple different recordings in an attempt to mimic a live performance.

Tank said...

I always liked the rocked up CSN live version myself.

At the handful of CSN (and sometimes Y) concerts I went to, Stills was always the one who was off key a bit on the harmonies (if anyone was). Great concerts all.

Wince said...

I always liked Southern Cross.

Stills was always a difficult guy.

Jael said...

Stills prolly won’t be standing between any Crosby-Nash fights.

madAsHell said...

By all indications, we won't see CSN on stage ever again. Apparently, everyone is fed up with David Crosby.
Too bad!

Heartless Aztec said...

@Jeff Roth: no one in any studio or recording booth would ever take the time to do what you suggest. Never. Having worked with 2" analog tape recorders it would be an hours upon hours upon hours long process that no one would ever take the time to do. And no one but no one would ever pay for that to be done. It was a live on the fly mix and the BS would be lucky if they had an actual run through so the engineers could set the marks the band wanted.

WeRetort said...

The version Althouse linked to is in stereo (with the extreme separation that was popular then).
The version Jeff Roth linked to is mono (or so it sounds to my old ears).
I prefer the stereo version.

Bryant said...

I don't think it's nonexistent. I just think the kind of people with the feeling expressed in that song do not go to rallies or riot in the streets. We stand back. We observe. We reflect. We long for peace and love.

These protester types put me off the same way the church I grew up in put me off: they are so sure of themselves and that everyone else is wrong.

“The men who really believe in themselves are all in lunatic asylums.”
― G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

WeRetort said...

Their appearance on the Smothers Brothers was definitely live:

Laslo Spatula said...

No one has brought up Stills' stories about fighting in Vietnam?

Anyway, let’s move on to yet another of Laurel Canyon’s earliest and brightest stars, Mr. Stephen Stills..
There is, however, an even more curious aspect to the Stephen Stills story: Stephen will later tell anyone who will sit and listen that he had served time for Uncle Sam in the jungles of Vietnam. These tales will be universally dismissed by chroniclers of the era as nothing more than drug-induced delusions. Such a thing couldn’t possibly be true, it will be claimed, since Stills arrived on the Laurel Canyon scene at the very time that the first uniformed troops began shipping out and he remained in the public eye thereafter. And it will of course be quite true that Stephen Stills could not have served with uniformed ground troops in Vietnam, but what will be ignored is the undeniable fact that the U.S. had thousands of ‘advisers’ – which is to say, CIA/Special Forces operatives – operating in the country for a good many years before the arrival of the first official ground troops. What will also be ignored is that, given his background, his age, and the timeline of events, Stephen Stills not only could indeed have seen action in Vietnam, he would seem to have been a prime candidate for such an assignment. After which, of course, he could rather quickly become – stop me if you’ve heard this one before – an icon of the peace generation..."

I am Laslo.

Laslo Spatula said...

The Dark Stuff: Selected Writings On Rock Music.

"...but what was even more disturbing was (Stills') deluded insistence about having served in Vietnam when everyone around him had to keep reminding him gently that he'd in fact been playing in the Buffalo Springfield at the time he was claiming to be on special manoeuvres, killing 'gooks'..."

I am Laslo.

Heartless Aztec said...

@we retort: If it wasthe Smothers Brothers tv show then the engineers took a modicum of time with the mix. I thonk it sounds fine.

Temujin said...

In the early 70s in college I got into a fight with a friend over who was the better guitarist, Stephen Stills or Joe Walsh. Stupid 1st world shit. We didn't actually fist fight. We just yelled, and then stopped speaking for months. Sometime later that summer, I went to see Stephen Stills and Manassas at an outdoor venue north of Detroit. It was not previously announced, but the 'warm-up' act was Joe Walsh and Barnstorm (which I had previously told my friend was the most overrated middling band in America).

Barnstorm was great. Joe Walsh was even better. To top it off, between Barnstorm and Manassas, Walsh and Stills spent a good 15-20 minutes onstage- just the two of them- playing back and forth. It was a learning experience to me. Joe Walsh was amazing. Stills was great. The concert was among the best I've ever seen.

Of course, I never told that to my friend. Instead I continued to tweak him about Walsh whenever the opportunity arose. Such is the life of a Mongol troll.

CStanley said...

I thought today about the Beatles' Revolution. I guess the left has decided they will be counted in on destruction and will give money to people with minds that hate.

I find it so sad that there is no one in the older generation who will step up to give the younger ones some perspective.

khematite said...

Half-wracked prejudice leaped forth, "rip down all hate, " I screamed
Lies that life is black and white spoke from my skull, I dreamed

Heartless Aztec said...

@CS Stanley: as if they would take any advice. We boomers were as obnoxious as these young people are today. And we didn't listen to squat from anybody. Thankfully many of us outgrew it. Hope that will happen to these kids in 20 years. Not holding my breath.

Birches said...

I hope you're right, Althouse. (and I'm honored to have received a tag).

After I stopped thinking about Buffalo Springfield, I started thinking about Longfellow's "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day." It gave me hope.

CStanley said...

That's a valid point surfed, but "perspective" isn't the same as "advice" and I also don't think the young people of today have the same disdain for elders as a group as your generation did. Haven't heard "Don't trust anyone over 30" lately, and most of these kids voted for Bernie Sanders.

Guildofcannonballs said...

I kept thinking today of the lyrics "I like girls who wear Abercrombie and Fitch" and you are welcome in advance for your thanks.

Michael said...

That's called For What It's Worth? Never knew that.

Bob Ellison said...

I keep thinking about what I don't write. Used to be one could be bold on opinion about music. You didn't have to worship The Ramones or hate Kelly Clarkson or think Louis Armstrong was crap and Miles Davis was the greatest ever. It was okay to lay down a critical, argumentative gambit.

No more. There is political correctness in criticism of music, art, and writing. Even sports writing.

Snark said...

"That's called For What It's Worth? Never knew that."

The story is that when Stephen Stills was presenting the song to the record company (or somebody like that) he said something like "I have this song here, for what it's worth". And that stuck, replacing whatever the name had been.