Friday, July 25, 2008

CSNY: Deja Vu

Living With War Today
From left: Stephen Stills, Neil Young, Graham Nash, and David Crosby in 'CSNY Déjà Vu.'
From left: Stephen Stills, Neil Young, Graham Nash, and David Crosby in "CSNY Déjà Vu." (roadside attractions)
Boston Globe

CSNY: Deja Vu: B
by Joe Williams
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
July 25, 2008
Attention, Woodstock generation: If you want to teach your children that they can carry on without getting wasted on the way, introduce them to Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.
This documentary, directed by Neil Young under his pseudonym Bernard Shakey, follows the folk-rockers on their 2006 Freedom of Speech Tour, whose explicit anti-war message shocked many fans while awing others.
Although the presence of a network reporter and interviews with angry walkouts suggest a four-way street of balanced debate, this is ultimately a rallying cry for helplessly hoping peaceniks.
David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash have solo careers and have performed as a trio since 1969, but Stills says that when Young joins them, he's the benevolent dictator. Young organized this tour to coincide with the midterm elections and to promote his impassioned solo album, "Living With War." His band mates' compliance denies us much insight into their individual personalities or collective place in pop culture.
This is Young's show, from the video backdrops that include portraits of the American war dead to the "embedding" of former ABC news reporter Mike Cerre as the tour correspondent.
Like the TV journalists in Iraq, Cerre gives the illusion of hard-news reporting but leaves us needing to know more. In offstage sidebars, we meet many soldiers and politicians who oppose the war, but few who defend it.
There are entertaining sound bites when angry fans storm out of an Atlanta show during the song "Let's Impeach the President," but we never learn what percentage of the audience they represent. And most importantly, because Cerre doesn't subject Young to tough questioning, we can't assess the level of knowledge and reflection behind his satirical outrage.
The movie does quote both positive and negative reviews of the pricey concerts, but it might have been more interesting to hear Young debating with disaffected fans about the role of an "oldies" band in times of crisis -- and corporate control.
Young, of course, would say that it's better to burn out than it is to rust. And for what it's worth, he's still burning like a dark star of hard truth.


DEJA VU: POLITICS, ROCK 'N' ROLL MEET IN NEW CROSBY, STILLS, NASH & YOUNG FILM
by George Varga
San Diego Union-Tribune
July 24, 2008
There is a heart-wrenching scene in "CSNY: Deja Vu" that should cause most viewers to choke up, regardless of whether they support or oppose our polarized country's involvement in the war in Iraq.
It comes as Karen Meredith watches Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (CSNY) perform Stills' war-inspired 1970 lament "Find the Cost of Freedom" at a 2006 Bay Area concert during the band's controversial "Freedom of Speech" tour. The graying vocal quartet's stirring singing is accompanied by a series of head shots of each of the several thousand American casualties in Iraq. The photos of the dead are projected, row after row, on a large screen at the rear of the stage.
The anguish on Meredith's face as she watches for a glimpse of her slain son, U.S. Army Lt. Ken Ballard, is almost unbearable. And that is precisely the point.
The cost of war, no matter how many billions of dollars fuel it, is ultimately a human one. That's why this film -- part concert documentary, part political commentary, part human drama -- often focuses on the loss of life, along with the shattered psyche of our war-torn nation and (by extension) that of the Iraqi people.
Directed by Neil Young under the nom de plume Bernard Shakey, "Deja Vu" takes its title from CSNY's 1970 album of the same name, as well as from the tragic echoes of the Vietnam war now reverberating so loudly in Iraq and here at home.
The tour's impetus was Young's 2006 album, "Living With War," which features such provocative songs as "Let's Impeach the President" and "Shock and Awe." (To ensure his message was heard by a large audience, he made the album available free for downloading on the Internet.)
But Young doesn't ignore opposing voices, including that of bandmate Stills, who early in the film calls the tour "a political cartoon." Stills then adds: "But listen to the song, perhaps it will change your mind."
Excerpts are read from scathing newspaper reviews of shows on the 32-city tour, as well as from more favorable write-ups. Some of the concertgoers who appear on camera support CSNY for forcefully speaking out with music, as the band did during the Vietnam war. Others mince no words in conveying their outrage.
This holds especially true at an Atlanta concert. After enthusiastically singing along to Stills' apolitical 1982 song "Southern Cross," droves of fans storm out during Young's "Let's Impeach the President." Nearly all are outspoken in expressing their anger, some with obscene words and gestures.
"I want to hear (CSNY's) music, not their political opinions," snaps one swiftly departing man, who apparently never paid attention to the lyrics of "Ohio," "Military Madness," "Long Time Gone," "Chicago" and other vintage classics that CSNY's members have done together or on their own albums. (Young, coming off stage at the Atlanta concert, says: "I thought it went good. We heard a lot of boos, but probably not any more than at Irvine.")
The film's serious message is offset by periodic humor, not all of it intentional.
In one especially inane scene, an "interviewer" for TV's "Showbiz Tonight" breathlessly says to Young: "You have one song called 'Let's Impeach the President.' What is this song about?"
Young's answer (if he even bothered to respond) goes unseen, the better to quickly refocus on the wounded heart and soul of this fractured nation.


CSNY: DÉJÀ VU
A rock tour turns into a political statement
by Richard von Busack
Silicon Valley Metro
July 23, 2008
IF YOU go to see CSNY: Deja Vu, a film by Neil Young done under the pseudonym "Bernard Shakey," you might expect the worst: the self-congratulations and navel-gazing of late-harvest musicians hitting the road. You would be wrong. Made in collaboration with longtime war correspondent Mike Cerre, CSNY: Deja Vu is more concerned with the audience than with performers Stephen Stills, David Crosby, Graham Nash and Young. Interviewees here include Mountain View's Karen Meredith, a Gold Star mother whose continuing story has been covered in Metro; (www.metroactive.com/papers/metro/05.11.05/meredith-0519.html)
The documentary follows the group on its Freedom of Speech Tour. One of the stops focuses on congressional candidate and wounded vet Tammy Duckworth during her campaign for Henry Hyde's vacant seat in Illinois. And the concert footage is interrupted with a gathering of Iraq veterans in Colorado. Vet and protest singer Josh Hisle performs his Internet hit "A Traitor's Death." One of the most elating bits of music in this documentary is Hisle's on-camera jam with Young and his trusty acoustic guitar.
CSN&Y court trouble during their "Freedom of Speech 2006" tour in the summer of midterm elections. At this point, a good deal of the United States was still insisting that loose lips encouraged Al Qaeda. What a difference a couple of years makes. As a director, Young had a choice to make between showing his band coalescing, getting stronger along the tour, or else watching how a divided America functioned. I think he made the right choice by following the audience. The musicians are the first to admit that the band is stiff as a board in early dates. Those who loved CSN&Y the first time might not have known the truth behind Stills' joke: "[Neil] is Tony Orlando, and we're Dawn."
As ringleader, Young leads the tour through a battering by AM radio pundits who are still chortling over the way they had put the screws to the Dixie Chicks. On TV, America's last line of defense, Stephen Colbert, is ready to ask tough questions about this geriatric antiwar racket. Grilling Young, he snaps, "Is it just you, or is it the entire AARP?"
The richest part of CSNY: Deja Vu comes in the scenes of the Atlanta show, where booing, outraged fans walk away from their $200 seats because the band performs a song called "Let's Impeach the President [for Lying]." The song is pretty bad from a musical point of view. Then again, so is "We Shall Overcome," also written for ease in mass singing.
In the exit aisle, one furious young Atlanta male makes what he supposes is a sardonic gesture: thanking the band profusely for the show while tearing up his tickets on-camera. Another squinting, wobbly elder rages against CSN&Y daring to speak out from the stage. Sympathy: zero. If I had a couple hundred bucks to spend on a concert, I would know a little about the band I was going to see. And I wouldn't presume that the composers of "Ohio," "Wooden Ships" and "For What It's Worth" to come out and warble "Teach Your Children" when those self-same children were getting shot up overseas.
By the time the band heads West to the glorious Red Rocks amphitheater in Denver, the members are functioning like the band they once were; they've transcended the hippie narcissism they've always been accused of over the years.


QUARTET TILL THE END OF TIME
Reviewed: CSNY: Deja Vu
by Tricia Olszewski
Washington City Paper
July 23, 2008
CSNY: Deja Vu
Directed by Neil Young
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young are not now, nor have they ever been, the Backstreet Boys. So in Neil Young's documentary CSNY: Deja Vu, it's bewildering to see ticketholders of the group's 2006 Freedom of Speech tour walk out in disgust once the folkies' set gets overtly political. Presumably, the outraged dropped not small amounts of money on these concerts because they were fans of the old hippies known for preaching peace in their late-'60s/early-'70s heyday--but maybe they thought "Ohio" was just an unusually downbeat homage to the state. Regardless, David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, and the writer-director weather the boos, expletives, and mass exoduses mostly spurred by the performance of Young's recent "Let's Impeach the President" (and then jokingly guess at the percentage of cheers to jeers--particularly caustic in Atlanta--noting that closed-roof venues can make unpleasantries seem especially loud). Though it's focused on the band's '06 outings, CSNY: Deja Vu is less a concert doc than another entry on the ever-lengthening list of anti-war films. The title not only references CSN's first studio recording with Y, it also nicely sums up the gist of their reemergence: We already spoke out against one mess of a war back in the '60s, but now here we go again. (Stephen Colbert, shown interviewing Young on The Colbert Report, is more amusingly blunt: "Didn't you get this all out of your system back during Vietnam?") The 96-minute movie, co-scripted by journalist Mark Cerre, who joined the group on tour, does feature plenty of music, from the collection of protest songs on Young's Web site to performances that range from creaky (wince-inducing harmonies, Stills toppling over) to triumphant (Young sure can shred, and the quartet is still capable of transcendent vocals). But even if the opening riff of "Teach Your Children" makes you want to stab an incense stick in your eardrum, there are enough detours to make the doc surprisingly compelling to anyone with an interest in the state of the union, including people-on-the-street debates about whether artists should air their political views and perspectives on Iraq and views of vets themselves. Casualty statistics and teary recollections from a fallen soldier's mother add gravitas to all the nearly caricatured shut-yer-yaps head-butting, and there's an especially gut-twisting moment provided by a performance of "Shock and Awe": As footage from the 2004 presidential debate plays behind him, Young sings, "We had a chance to change our mind."


'CSNY DEJA VU' SHOULD HAVE COME ALONG SOONER
by Ed Symkus
GateHouse News Service
July 23, 2008
Boston --
Film director Bernard Shakey was angry. He was fed up with the Bush administration and its disregard of human rights, the environment, the deficit ... the list goes on. But he was most upset about Iraq, about the immoral, illegal and very deadly folly that was Bush's war in Iraq. He decided to make a film that showed how others felt about the same issues, and he would do it with music at its center. Music, after all, was something that Bernard Shakey knew even more about than filmmaking. Bernard Shakey is better known as Neil Young.
Yet one of the first things heard -- off-camera -- in Young's documentary about the 2006 Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young "Freedom of Speech" concert tour is the sound of people putting him and his fellow protestors down, accusing them of being traitors.
Talk about offering up a balance of opinions! Young's film works on a variety of levels. There are large chunks of songs being performed at concerts all over the country by Young and his 60-something compatriots -- new songs from his terrific "Living with War" album as well as some good old CSNY staples -- and there are voices, lots of reactionary voices, from members of the audiences. Some of them offer support; others call for Young's head. Young wanted to know what America thought of his opinions of Bush and the war, and by golly, they told him. His songs may speak strongly against the man who will go down as the worst, most harmful president in American history, but his film doesn't take sides.
He enlisted war correspondent and former soldier Mike Cerre to tag along on the tour and interview all kinds of people, knowing full well that even George Bush supporters love popular music. And CSNY has long been out there creating popular music, so he knew that both sides would be represented at the concerts.
There's also lots of quality time on the tour bus, where other iconic members of the band get their say; and there's plenty of old footage -- a dressing room rehearsal in 1970, brief clips of CSNY's old bands: Buffalo Springfield, the Byrds, the Hollies. But the majority of this is what happens both onstage and in the audience (and after the shows) during the 2006 tour.
Young reveals at one point that the responsibility of the show is simply to make the audience feel. That's one goal that's accomplished with ease, but it's not always a pretty sight. Cerre notes that concerts in the blue states went pretty well, but that he had some concern about a couple of upcoming red state appearances. Then the tour bus arrives in Atlanta, where the band breaks into the happy-sounding but quite furious "Let's Impeach the President." This is where Young gets that variety of reactions he was hoping for. Some of the folks in that audience sing along, their hands waving happily. Others just get up and walk out, emitting a few loud boos, their middle fingers directed toward the stage as they leave. It's a remarkable sequence, and it shows the awful divide that still plagues our country.
Amazingly, the film never sits still. There's slightly more music than anything else -- a hot version of Nash's "Military Madness," with Young ripping out a signature solo; a deeply moving performance of Stills' "Find the Cost of Freedom," made even more poignant by the accompanying photos of soldiers who were killed in action behind the singers.
But there's plenty more, ranging from frightening war footage to clips of Young jockeying with Stephen Colbert during a hilarious appearance on "The Colbert Report." Young also peppers the film with snippets of concert reviews from around the country, showing them on the screen while unseen voices read from them. Again, most are positive, but many are vehemently negative -- about the band's political statements, not the music.
In fact, the music near the beginning of the tour is quite ragged, but as it goes on, the guitar playing gets better and the vocal harmonies get tighter. And then it comes pouring forth: anti-war, pro-peace songs, some of them of an anthemic nature.
Of course, between the songs, we're as apt to get interviewees making comparisons between Iraq and Vietnam as we are to hear Graham Nash complaining, "We may be preaching to the choir, but I'd like the choir to get up off their ass and do something."
"CSNY/Deja Vu" isn't at all like the gentle Neil Young concert film "Heart of Gold," nor is it reminiscent of the similar "Leonard Cohen: I' m Your Man." It's closer in style to the Bush-related Dixie Chicks documentary "Shut Up & Sing" -- but of much wider musical and political scope and substance. It could really make some waves in America. Too bad it didn't come along sooner.


CSNY: DÉJÀ VU
A rock tour turns into a political statement
by Richard von Busack
Silicon Valley Metro
July 23, 2008
If you go to see CSNY: Deja Vu, a film by Neil Young done under the pseudonym "Bernard Shakey," you might expect the worst: the self-congratulations and navel-gazing of late-harvest musicians hitting the road. You would be wrong. Made in collaboration with longtime war correspondent Mike Cerre, CSNY: Deja Vu is more concerned with the audience than with performers Stephen Stills, David Crosby, Graham Nash and Young. Interviewees here include Mountain View's Karen Meredith, a Gold Star mother whose continuing story has been covered in Metro; (www.metroactive.com/papers/metro/05.11.05/meredith-0519.html)
The documentary follows the group on its Freedom of Speech Tour. One of the stops focuses on congressional candidate and wounded vet Tammy Duckworth during her campaign for Henry Hyde's vacant seat in Illinois. And the concert footage is interrupted with a gathering of Iraq veterans in Colorado. Vet and protest singer Josh Hisle performs his Internet hit "A Traitor's Death." One of the most elating bits of music in this documentary is Hisle's on-camera jam with Young and his trusty acoustic guitar.
CSN&Y court trouble during their "Freedom of Speech 2006" tour in the summer of midterm elections. At this point, a good deal of the United States was still insisting that loose lips encouraged Al Qaeda. What a difference a couple of years makes. As a director, Young had a choice to make between showing his band coalescing, getting stronger along the tour, or else watching how a divided America functioned. I think he made the right choice by following the audience. The musicians are the first to admit that the band is stiff as a board in early dates. Those who loved CSN&Y the first time might not have known the truth behind Stills' joke: "[Neil] is Tony Orlando, and we're Dawn."
As ringleader, Young leads the tour through a battering by AM radio pundits who are still chortling over the way they had put the screws to the Dixie Chicks. On TV, America's last line of defense, Stephen Colbert, is ready to ask tough questions about this geriatric antiwar racket. Grilling Young, he snaps, "Is it just you, or is it the entire AARP?"
The richest part of CSNY: Deja Vu comes in the scenes of the Atlanta show, where booing, outraged fans walk away from their $200 seats because the band performs a song called "Let's Impeach the President [for Lying]." The song is pretty bad from a musical point of view. Then again, so is "We Shall Overcome," also written for ease in mass singing.
In the exit aisle, one furious young Atlanta male makes what he supposes is a sardonic gesture: thanking the band profusely for the show while tearing up his tickets on-camera. Another squinting, wobbly elder rages against CSN&Y daring to speak out from the stage. Sympathy: zero. If I had a couple hundred bucks to spend on a concert, I would know a little about the band I was going to see. And I wouldn't presume that the composers of "Ohio," "Wooden Ships" and "For What It's Worth" to come out and warble "Teach Your Children" when those self-same children were getting shot up overseas.
By the time the band heads West to the glorious Red Rocks amphitheater in Denver, the members are functioning like the band they once were; they've transcended the hippie narcissism they've always been accused of over the years.


See more reviews at: http://www.neilyoung.com/lwwtoday/csnydejavuproconpage.html

Also see:
http://www.neilyoung.com/lwwtoday/index.html

LWWT Protest Videos


Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - Déjà Vu

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BdqpceBvm6g

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