With unparalleled idealism, young people in the late 1960s actually believed they could change the world. They had the audacity to "question all the answers," and they came up with a few of their own along the way.
The idealism - an idealism rooted in world peace - generated in late 1960 and early 1970 may be lost on society as a whole, but the flame still burns deeply for David Crosby, Graham Nash and Stephen Stills.
In what has become an almost annual event in Utah, CS&N delivered another one of their patented shows: socially relevant, spiritually moving and musically stimulating. Even the time-worn classics, like "For What It's Worth" and "Carry On" and "Wooden Ships" had a vibrant, new feel to them.
Crosby, Stills and Nash showed once again they were not a band of the '60s. They are the quintessential folk-rock band for our generation. Those who doubt it have never experienced the band live.
But of greater interest to Utah fans on this night was the much ballyhooed return of David Crosby, the portly prince of anti-establishment rebels who just completed a stint in a Texas prison on weapons and drug charges.
To quote Crosby, the prison sentence literally saved his life - a life that he now openly admits had degenerated into self-destructive drug abuse and paranoia. Judging from Tuesday night's performance, it also saved his career.
On a night when Stephen Stills seemed under the weather and Graham Nash was anything but his charming best, Crosby stole the show with his delicate instrumentals, the booming resonance of his vocals and his patronly stage presence.
During a solo set, Crosby asked the crowd for total silence as he picked his way through "Compass," an introspective song he wrote in prison. But half way through, he quit, chastising the crowd in a fatherly manner for being too noisy. After the crowd had paid the appropriate penance, he then delivered a powerful acoustic rendition of "Almost Cut My Hair."
Crosby was also given ample opportunity to display his re-discovered songwriting abilities on songs like "Nighttime for the Generals" and "The Monkey and the Underdog," the latter a sensational song about his personal battle against drug abuse.
Crosby chanted "I'm fightin' to stay alive," and the crowd of well over 6,000 had particular good reason to be glad he got the monkey off his back. Crosby sounded better than he ever has. And even more encouraging, one of this planet's most creative artists seems to again have control of his life.
Despite the obvious fan preference, the concert wasn't all the David Crosby show. Graham Nash unveiled an anti-war song, titled "Soldiers of Peace," that could be his best ever, and coupled with elaborate renditions of Nash classics like "Wooden Ships," "Cathedral" and "The Last Whale," Nash reaffirmed his position as one of the most socially conscious songwriters in the business today.
Stills, on the other hand, did not have a good night. While he was, as expected, omnipresent on the guitars, his voice was shot, perhaps by a virus or the cold night air. Stills was adequate on the opening "Love the One You're With" and "Change Partners," but as the show wore on, he just couldn't keep the vocals going. Consequently, tunes like "Southern Cross" and "Daylight Again" suffered.
But even with the show's weaknesses, a CS&N show is still the best ticket in town. And the world as a whole is better because they continue to play their music.