Crosby, Still and Nash at Ravinia August 22, 2010
Late Summer evenings are some of those most special of things, the air giving up the humidity of the season and in return floating your memories of the last few months across your minds eye in a cooling breeze that comes with the lengthening of the evening. It is a time to take to the nights in great abandon for before too long you will be shuttered away in your wintery solitude waiting for the release of the bitter cold to let fly its grasp on your door.
So to the night we went, and what better a way to have spent the fading of Summer than listening to great music in the outdoor wonder of Ravinia. What struck me most about the crowd was not its size (although the thousands of picnickers packed onto the lawn is truly a testament to the timelessness of the music and the appeal of Ravinia Park), but its diverse span of age. The audience members spanned every conceivable generation; it was a wonder and a delight to see whole families enjoying the evening, the scenery and, above all, the classic music of Crosby, Stills and Nash.
David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash formed Crosby, Stills and Nash as a group officially in 1969 having all come from other well known groups of their era, Crosby from the Byrds, Stills from Buffalo Springfield and Nash as a founder of the group The Hollies. As Crosby, Stills and Nash they met together in what came to form one of the great musical collaborations of all time. With music that even today holds a significant place in the annals and current lives of a fiercely loyal fan base of recent and longtime members.
CSN is a group that isn’t afraid to take a political stand; they born of that time in History when people were passionately invested in the political landscape. CSN famously cite their second gig as a little festival called Woodstock. It was here that the Legends were made. So it is easily stated that these men come from a strong musical pedigree.
CSN are now out on a new tour that surprisingly brings them to Ravinia for the very first time. In their set list of 24 tunes they played a wide range, from crowd-pleasing favorites such as Southern Cross and Teach Your Children to some surprising covers of well-known songs such as The Beatles Norwegian Wood, and Bob Dylan’s Girl From the North Country. “Here’s what’s going on.” Said Crosby after they had performed a couple of cover tunes. “We are making a record of songs that we wished we’d written and are trying them out on you.” This “record” of which he speaks is a new album of cover songs that they are recording with super producer Rick Rubin who is most recently known for his collaboration on the last couple of albums from the late great Johnny Cash.
What is so amazing in attending concerts of these great legends of music who are entering into the final stretches of great long careers is the level of graciousness and love exhibited by each of the musicians. Gone and behind them are the battles over ego and money and women and now you see old friends who genuinely love the music and each other. Throughout the night David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash took turns honoring each other and the other musicians who have been fortunate to have come along for the ride. At one point David Crosby pointed to Graham Nash after a beautiful duet with each other and said “Graham Nash everybody, the greatest harmonizer on the planet!” It was clear he meant it.
That graciousness and sincerity, coupled with the richness of the music, is such a gift to see on stage, especially as today’s pop artists gravitate more towards spectacle and farther away from well-crafted songs.
The night was beautiful, the music was timeless, the young Ravinia staff members hired for the summer provided courteous and helpful service. This was one for the memory books.
August 22, 2010
Highland Park, IL