Reflections on Freedom of Speech Tour
Neil Young - 8/12/2006 - Washington, DC
photo by Buzz Person (via CSNY.net)
Now that the Freedom of Speech '06 Tour has ended, here are a few thoughts.
I attended the Washington, DC show and like many others, found the 2006 CSNY to be a significant improvement over the 2000 and 2002 tours. It wasn't just that Neil and his songs were front and center. It was more that all four members of CSNY were more into one another's songs than the previous tours where each seemed to drift off during each others songs creating a disconnect.
But even more fascinating has been the reaction to the tour. Thrasher's Wheat received well over 100 comments regarding the tour ranging from pro to con, from unconditional love to raging hate.
Here is an example of a positive fan's comment:
I have been going to concerts for 40 years. All sorts of concerts, from the Beach Boys, to Wynton Marsalis, to the New York Philharmonic. I have never heard such a variety of music, such sustained musicianship on such a high level, such honest emotion, or such a community of passion, both for the music being played and the cause being backed.
I don't think I have ever heard a better concert.
Keith C. Burris
I've seen CSNY 4 times previous:
1. The Santa Barbara, CA Greenpeace benefit in 1987
2. Bridge School benefit 1989, Mountain View, CA (off on this night).
3. The CSNY2K tour in San Jose, CA 2000
4. The 2002 CSNY tour in San Jose, CA
The concert I saw on Tuesday night blew all others away. Powerful material and execution.
I expected greatness from Neil but the big surprise was Stills, he stepped up and gave 200% and it pushed Neil to even higher levels of performance.
Intense show! Neil's new LWW material is better live with CSNY and the full force of his Les Paul CRUNCH.
I was moved to tears by the song Living With War.
I was absolutely awestruck the whole time, it was that good!
But not all comments were positive. Here's a sample:
"I'm not sure if you are the person to send this email to but I had to write something about the CSNY concert we went to Sunday night at the PNC Art Center in New Jersey. The music, harmony and most of the songs were great, but this war crap is getting annoying.
We should not be sujected to their points of view regarding the war. My husband, son and son-in-law are New York City Firefighters and they lost many friends on 9/11. For them to call us the enemy is a disgrace. If their daughter, son, wife etc. died in the World Trade Center Tragedy I believe they might be singing a different tune.
CSNY are a disgrace to this country. Those boys fighting the war are their for a great cause and I believe they are honored to serve this country. Every day they are finding out new plans for another threat to our country by these animals.
I paid to see them perform songs not to here their political views. I can't tell you how many people got up and walked out on them. If I thought I could get reimbursed I would try and give the money to 9/11 victims. I know the eight friends that I went with will never go see them again or buy any of their albums.
I have been going to their concerts for 37 years. Rarely missed seeing them when they were in New York. Slept over at the Filmore East in New York for first row seats all the time. I will miss the CSNY that I once new but I cannot listen to their politics at their concerts any longer.
Please try to get this message to them so they might understand we love the music not the politics."
Keeping with the CSN&Y "Freedom of Speech Tour" theme, I thought I'd write my thoughts. I don't know if you will publish them, as my comments are quite different from any that I'm seeing posted on your website, here. Anyway, here goes.....
Took my hubby to the 7/22/06 concert in South Lake Tahoe. Like any good baby boomers, we have been die-hard fans since the '70s. Concerts aren't cheap these days, as we all know---$300 for 2 mediocre seats, $16-20 for 2 beers, plus $70-80 for 2 T-shirts. But, who cares? What a GREAT place for a concert---a beautiful summer evening, under the stars, excitement in the air!
Well, to cut to the chase---the concert began, they sounded GREAT, USA/Canadian/British flags flying high, etc. But then, the theme of the "concert" seemed to change dramatically. It was suddenly an anti-war, anti-President Bush, anti-EVERYTHING "rally".
*A "concert"---with an Iraq war ticker tape/video going nonstop?
*A song introduced as a "tribute" to the troops/families---with videos of mostly coffins?
*A very mean spirited anti- President Bush song---with no thoughts (or words, whatsoever) to indicate that there are lots of folks with different political points of view in the crowd/country?
*The words of old CLASSIC songs changed---just to bash whatever they felt like bashing?
*A new, anti-commercialism song sung ("The Restless Consumer", I guess) that basically was down on anything "business" related---yet their ticket prices and T-shirts are outrageously high?
None of this made sense to us. And we were certainly not the only ones dismayed---some folks left the concert, some I noticed almost in tears at certain points, and a few threw their drinks at the stage.
And WHY? Are CSN&Y so COMPLETELY out of touch with mainstream fans that they forgot that we all are different? And that we need to be tolerant of each others' different views?
It was all very disheartening. We left the concert feeling very confused.....not the old CSN&Y that we have grown up with over the years. AH---maybe it's just that....some of us have grown up and have good manners, others, well, don't.
So, in conclusion, we are 2 die- hard CSN&Y fans that feel very saddened and ripped off. Debating politics is fine. There is a place for concerts and a place for political rallies. But disguising a mean spirited, expensive political rally as a "concert" seems like BAIT AND SWITCH.... NOT FREEDOM OF SPEECH.
So, there's my FREEDOM OF SPEECH.
Larry and Bunnie
Big CSNY fan going to the show tonight in Sunrise. I am going to hopefully see a great MUSICAL performance, NOT A POLITICAL rally. I live in the UNITED States of America. United we Stand, Divided We Fall. We don't need an over the hill hippie using concerts as a forum to divide this great nation. If Neil Young does not love the USA and suport our leaders he should go back and stay in Canada and take Cindy Sheehan and Jane Fonda with him. Leave the Politics to the Politicians. Just continue to play great music Neil.
Bill in FL
And that's just a small sample of the pro and con of the CSNY 2006 tour.
Oddly, there was a pattern to the anti-tour views. Many stated how much they loved CSNY and Neil's music over the years but yet were surprised, disappointed, and shocked by the politics of the tour. As several have pointed out, it's hard to believe any true fan of CSNY would be surprised by the political tone of the tour.
In addition, there is a pattern of posters insisting that CSNY shut-up and sing, similar to the Dixie Chicks controversary. Which they actually did with very little between song bantering and letting the music speak for itself. One has to suspect whether such comments were written by actual concert attendees? Is this a concerted effort to minimize artists' impact in the political arena?
It seems many commenters felt that you are allowed to speak and sing as long as the attendee agrees with their point of view. Otherwise, shut-up and sing.
And of course this is the ultimate irony of a tour called Freedom of Speech.