Last night at the Crosby, Stills & Nash concert in Brooklyn, I suddenly remembered seeing the group—or was it only Crosby and Nash?—years ago at an outdoor concert in New York. A freakish thing had happened that night: I was sitting on a bench (I’d gone alone) toward the back, and a rowdy guy dropped a bottle of beer. It must have hit something hard because it shattered, and a piece of glass flew up and cut the bridge of my nose. No one seemed to notice that my face was bleeding, so I got up, made my way to the street, and hailed a cab. In the backseat of the taxi, I told the cabbie, a young guy, what had happened and started crying. He asked if he should take me to a hospital, but I said no. He proceeded, as he drove me home, to talk about how awful the city was. He meant well, but this wasn’t helpful, and anyway, I didn’t agree with him. I guess this incident took precedence in my mind because I barely remember the concert—maybe I wasn’t there long.
Luckily, I finally got a second chance to hear CSN, and no such incident occurred at the wonderfully rococo Kings Theatre in Ditmas Park—which is my husband Bob’s childhood neighborhood, though he says it was all just “Flatbush” then. The beer was safely encased in plastic, rowdiness seemed confined to yelling “I love you” to the band, and everyone had gone through airport-like security in the lobby. I’m sure some of the songs the band did were ones performed those many years before: “Carry On,” “Our House,” “Déjà Vu.” The three rockers were all in great voice (having read about David Crosby’s health issues arising from his notorious addictions, Bob was amazed by this). Stephen Stills hit a sustained high note in “Love the One You’re With,” a song I was hoping they’d do, that brought the crowd to their feet and Graham Nash, who, speaking of feet, was barefoot, over to him for a congratulatory gesture of some sort (honestly, I can’t remember exactly what—I had the large size of those plastic glasses of beer—though there was a lot of pointing at each other throughout among the three, as though to say, Wow, look what he just did).
After an intermission, Nash came out to play a couple of his new songs. He said that last fall he was going through “a million” personal changes and wrote 20 songs with the backing guitarist, Shane Fontayne, which the two then recorded in only eight days. In introducing his song “Myself at Last,” he spoke of how important it is for him, as a singer-songwriter, to continue to write, even though “it’s cool” to do the old songs as well. David Crosby later reinforced that idea, saying “it’s the stuff of life” to get a great reaction from the audience to a new song. In his case, that reaction was to “Somebody Home,” a gorgeous and moving ballad inspired by his wife of 28 years (“as of today,” he said), whose name, Jan, he added in the middle of the song. (Their son Django helps manage his dad’s tours, and Crosby’s son James Raymond is one of the keyboard players.)
But of course for the encore the group brought out two of their gems (and here I was thinking they’d already sung them all): “Teach Your Children” and “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.” “Do-do-do-do-do” never sounded so good. I think they caught the sparrow.