Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young promote 'Freedom of Speech'
The band works around the erratic schedule of guitarist Neil Young.
By JOHN BENSON
The fickleness and eccentric nature of Neil Young has been well documented over the past four decades.
For long-time band mate Stephen Stills, Young's capriciousness, which was once perhaps a source of tension between the two musicians, is now somewhat expected or even embraced. This is especially true when it comes to reunion tours for '70s super group Crosby, Stills, Nash & amp; Young (CSNY).
"Yeah, we were going to go [a few years ago] and then [Young] called me up and he was writing [2003's] 'Greendale,'" said Stills, calling from Los Angeles. "He said, 'It's only a quarter a mile from my house to the studio but I have to stop in the car because these lyrics are coming out so fast that I have to write them down. Luckily, it's my road.'"
Stills added, "So the whole thing was just coming out and I knew that we were dead ducks for that year. He was going to have to chase this thing. I didn't begrudge it a minute."
Instead, Crosby, Stills and Nash toured while the guitarist finished up recording his recently released album "Man Alive!," his first solo effort in 14 years. Then a year or so ago, there was talk of a CSNY studio project. However, Young's attention turned to the war in Iraq and out came "Living with War," which was released earlier this year. Stills said the Internet-only album is right on, with CSNY deciding to hit the road in support of it this summer on the "Freedom of Speech" tour, which plays near Pittsburgh on Sunday at Post Gazette Pavilion.
Aside from the new material, the live set acts as a veritable history lesson in rock. Throughout Stills' 40-year musical career, the two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee (Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills & amp; Nash) played a key role in many of classic rock's greatest songs. The list ranges from "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" and "Southern Cross" to "Wooden Ships," "Love the One You're With" and "Teach Your Children."
Still, it's "For What It's Worth," which was recorded by Buffalo Springfield in 1967 as a comment on the Sunset Boulevard riots, that will seemingly resonate for decades to come as a definitive and timeless protest song. Stills believes that protest includes today's political climate.
"When one is motivated by social events, you have two hopes depending on the situation," Stills said. "One of them is that it will cover that type of a situation for a long time and the other is this problem will quickly go away and you won't need to sing that song anymore. But in the case of 'For What it's Worth,' I'm afraid none of these guys took history or I don't know, because they certainly don't seem to have learned anything from it. And the language [today] is exactly the same going around the Pentagon as it was during Vietnam."
Older, wiser and still politically active, Stills makes no bones about the intentions behind the "Freedom of Speech" tour.
"It's like, here we come to save the day," Stills said. "We have an election coming up and just think about this November and taking a big broom to that silly Congress and maybe they can stop some of this moronic stuff that's going on."