VIEW FROM THE STAGE

Encore: August 10, 2022

We reflect on three days of peace and music that defined a generation. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young took the Woodstock stage that weekend, but getting to that stage was itself quite an experience. Tonight, Graham Nash joins us with a recap.

Aired on August 15, 2019.

TRANSCRIPT

THE IN AUGUST OF 1969, HALF A MILLION PEOPLE CONVERGED ON MAXIAS GER'S DAIRY FARM IN UPSTATE NEW YORK FOR AN EVENT THAT WOULD BECOME THE DEFINING MOMENT OF THE '60s COUNTER CULTURE REVOLUTION.

UNFOLDING AGAINST A BACKDROP OF A NATION DIVIDED OVER THE VIETNAM WAR, CIVIL RIGHTS AND SEXUAL POLITICS, WOODSTOCK WOULD FEATURE SOME OF THE BIGGEST NAMES IN ROCK 'N' ROLL INCLUDING YIM I HENDRIX, THE GRATEFUL DEAD, THE WHO, JANIS JOPLIN AND RICHIE HAVENS.

ALSO AMONG THE PERFORMERS GATHERED FOR WHAT WAS BILLED AS THREE DAYS OF PEACE AND MUSIC WAS A NEW SUPER GROUP MADE UP OF MEMBERS FROM SOME OF THE MOST POPULAR BANDS OF THE ERA.

STEPHEN STILLS AND NEIL YOUNG OF BUFFALO SPRING FEED, DAVID CROSBY BIRDS AND GRAHAM NARVET HOLLIES.

TOGETHER THEIR HARMONIES WERE ALMOST OTHERWORLDLY AND AT WOODSTOCK THEY EARNED THEMSELF THE TITLE OF ROCK 'N' ROLL ROYALTY.

RECENTLY I HAD A CHANCE TO SPEAK WITH GRAHAM NASH ABOUT THAT SURREAL AND LIFE TRANSFORMING EXPERIENCE.

GRAEME, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US.

IT'S SUCH AN HONOR TO HAVE YOU WITH US.

GRAHAM, WHEN CROSBY, STILLS AND YOUNG FIRST GOT ON THE STEAK AT WOODSTOCK, STEPHEN STILLS FAMOUSLY SAID, 'THIS IS ONLY THE SECOND TIME WE EVER PLAYED IN FRONT OF PEOPLE, MAN.

WE'RE SCARED [ MUTED ]LESS.'

WAS IT REALLY THE SECOND TIME YOU GUYS HAD EVER PLAYED IN FRONT OF AN AUDIENCE AND WERE ALL OF YOU SCARED?

I WASN'T SO SCARED.

I MEAN I HAD ALREADY BEEN THROUGH SEVEN YEARS OF MADNESS WITH THE HOLLIES IN GHAEND BEFORE THAT, YOU KNOW.

BUT IT WAS A CRAZY NIGHT AND WE WERE A LITTLE NERVOUS.

NOT PARTICULARLY BECAUSE OF THE PEOPLE IN FRONT OF US, BUT THE PEOPLE THAT SURROUNDING US.

ALL OUR FAVORITE MUSICIANS THAT WANTED TO KNOW WHO THESE GUYS -- THEY KNEW WHO THESE GUYS WERE BUT CAN BE THESE GUYS DO THAT RECORD?

WHO ARE THEY?

COME ON, SHOW US WHAT THEY WERE.

SO WE WERE A LITTLE NERVOUS ABOUT THE PEOPLE AROUND US, NOT NECESSARILY THE PEOPLE IN FRONT OF US OF WHICH THERE WERE MANY.

BUT IT WAS THE SECOND TIME ONLY WE HAD PLAYED IN FRONT OF PEOPLE.

THAT IS AMAZING.

SET THE SCENE FOR US.

HOW DID YOU GET TO WOODSTOCK AND HOW DID THE WHOLE SCENE UNFOLD BEFORE YOUR EYES?

WE FLEW INTO WOODSTOCK IN HELICOPTERS.

AND FLYING OVER ALL THOSE PEOPLE AND THE MUD AND THE RAIN AND THE FIRES CROSBY SAID IT LOOKED LIKE AN ENCAMPMENT OF THE MACEDONIAN ARMY AND HE WAS QUITE RIGHT.

SO I WAS NEARLY I THINK I WAS NEARLY KILLED ON THE WAY IN BECAUSE WHAT HAPPENED AS WE WERE LANDING ABOUT 50 FEET FROM LANDING, THE TAIL ROTOR ON THE HELICOPTER STOPPED.

AND SO THE BODY OF THE HELICOPTER STARTED TO SPIN IN OPPOSITION TO THE ROTATION OF THE BLADESES BUT HE, THE PILOT KNEW WHAT HE WAS DOING AND WE THOUGHT, WE THUDDED AND HAD A HEAVY LANDING AND IT TURNED OUT OKAY.

THAT WOULD HAVE CHANGED ROCK 'N' ROLL HISTORY, WOULDN'T IT?

SO THAT SAME NIGHT, YOU WERE SET TO APPEAR ON THE DICK CAVETT SHOW BACK IN NEW YORK CITY AND YOU MADE IT.

STRAIGHT FROM THE WOODSTOCK, MUD AND ALL.

WELL, HERE'S THE STORY.

IT WASN'T US THAT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE ON THERE.

THIS WAS JONI'S FIRST MAJOR TV APPEARANCE IN AMERICA.

THAT'S WHY EVEN THOUGH JONI WAS INVITED TO PLAY WOODSTOCK, ELLIOTT ROBERTS, OUR MANAGER AND DAVID GEFFEN, OUR MANAGER DECIDED THAT JONI MIGHT NOT BE ABLE TO GET OUT OF WOODSTOCK FOR THE MONDAY SHOW OF HER BIGGEST TV APPEARANCE.

AND SO WHAT HAPPENED IS THAT BECAUSE WE HAD COME BACK FROM WOODSTOCK AND WE WERE HANGING OUT, JONI WAS MY GIRLFRIEND, WE WERE HERE AT THE CAR LIE HOLTZ, WE GOT BACK FROM WOODSTOCK AND SHE HAD ALREADY WRITTEN WOODSTOCK AND SHE NEVER EVEN WENT.

BUT SHE HAD BEEN CHECKING IT OUT ON THE TV AND LISTENING TO PEOPLE AND THAT'S THE JEEP NEWS OF JONI.

SHE DIDN'T EVEN GO BUT WROTE THE SONG THAT ENCAPSULATES ALL OF IT.

PARTICULARLY YOUR RECORDING OF IT.

WHAT IS IT ABOUT THAT SONG THAT CONTINUES TO CAPTIVATE?

SIMPLY THAT IT JUST CAPTURED THE ESSENCE OF THAT EVENT.

THE IT THE DID LIR LICK SFLI.

BEAUTIFUL LYRICS.

JONI'S VERSION WAS A LITTLE BLUER, A LITTLE MORE MINOR, SLOWER.

♪ BY THE TIME

WHEN SHE PLAYED US THE SONG, STEPHEN LOOKED THE AT JONI AND SAID CAN WE HAVE HA SONG?

AND SHE SAID WELL, YES.

YOU CAN HAVE IT.

AND HE SAID, CAN I TURN IT INTO A ROCK 'N' ROLL SONG?

AND SHE LOOKED AT HIM A LITTLE AND SHE SAID OKAY.

STEPHEN, I TRUST YOU.

YES, YOU CAN.

AND IT WAS STEPHEN STILLS THAT MADE THAT RECORD REALLY.

HE WAS A BRILLIANT, BRILLIANT MUSICIAN.

SURE, SURE.

NEIL YOUNG PERFORMED WITH YOU GUYS IN WOODSTOCK.

NOT A LOT OF PEOPLE THINK THAT.

WE'LL TALK ABOUT THAT, BUT FIRST OF ALL, YOU KNOW, DEJA VU HAD NOT YET COME OUT.

RIGHT.

DID PEOPLE ALREADY KNOW THAT CROSBY STILLS AND NASH HAD MORPHED INTO CROSBY, STILLS, NASH & YOUNG OR WERE THEY SURPRISED TO SEE HIM THERE.

I THINK THEY WERE SURPRISED TO SEE HIM THERE BECAUSE THE FIRST RECORD WAS QUITE POPULAR AT THAT POINT.

NOBODY HAD EVER SEEN US.

AS WE SAID, IT WAS ONLY THE SECOND NIGHT AND LITTLE BEKNOWSTst TO US MEANING ME AND DAVID AND STEPHEN, NEIL HAD TOLD EVERY CAMERA MAN ON THE STAGE NEVER TO SHOOT ONE FRAME OF HIM.

WHY?

TO THIS DAY, AND I'VE ASKED NEIL SEVERAL TIMES, TO THIS DAY, I'VE NEVER REALLY GOTTEN THE REASON WHY HE CHOSE THAT.

BUT WE DIDN'T KNOW.

THAT HE HAD DONE THAT.

THAT HE SOUNDS LIKE WHAT PEOPLE SAY ABOUT HIM.

THE TRUTH IS THAT I BEGAN TO REALIZE JUST WHAT SORT OF A SPECIAL MAN NEIL YOUNG WAS.

YOU'RE GOING TO BE DIPLOMATIC AS IS YOUR REPUTATION.

YES.

ALL RIGHT.

YOU KNOW, IN MANY PEOPLE'S MIND WOODSTOCK SYMBOLIZED THE FORMAL BIRTH OF THE AGE OF AQUARIUS, YOU KNOW, A NEW DAWN OF PEACE, LOVE AND UNDERSTANDING.

NOW THIS IS SOMETHING I DIDN'T KNOW UNTIL RECENTLY.

JUST FOUR MONTHS LATER, YOU GUYS WERE PERFORMING IN ALTAMONT.

THE INFAMOUS ROCK, ROLLING STONES ALTAMONT WHERE THREE PEOPLE DIED, ONE STABBED TO DEATH BY THE HEL'S ANGELS WHICH FOR SOME REASON WERE HIRED TO DO SECURITY.

IT WAS A MESS.

IT WAS A COMPLETE MESS.

NOW THAT'S CONSIDERED BOTH LITERALLY AND SYMBOLICALLY THE END OF THE '60s.

YES.

DO YOU SEE IT THAT WAY?

I DO.

IT WAS A COMPLETELY REVERSED THE VIBE OF WOODSTOCK.

IT WAS CHAOTIC.

THEY WERE PLAYING ELECTRONIC MUSIC LOUD BETWEEN SETS BETWEEN ACTS.

THEY HAD GIVEN THE HEL'S ANGELS PERMISSION TO BE SECURITY.

AND THEY HAD LINED ALL THEIR BEAUTIFUL BIKES UP, YOU KNOW, AND SOMEBODY KNOCKED ONE OVER AND THE KID WAS GETTING BEATEN, YOU KNOW.

IT WAS ENTIRELY THE OPPOSITE OF THE VIBE OF WOODSTOCK.

PEOPLE FROM THE JIFR SON AIRPLANE ON STAGE WERE GETTING BEAT UP, RIGHT.

THAT'S RIGHT.

BY THE HEL'S ANGELS.

MARTY BALIN, YEAH.

WAS ALTAMONT A REFLECTION OF THE TIMES?

I MEAN, WAS THE WORM TURNING ON THE AGE OF AQUARIUS ALREADY, OR DID IT KIND OF SPARK A NEGATIVE MOVEMENT?

I DON'T THINK IT SPARKED A NEGATIVE MOVEMENT.

I DO BELIEVE THAT IT WAS THE ENTIRE OPPOSITE OF WOODSTOCK.

BUT IT DID NOT KILL THE AGE OF AQUARIUS AND IT DIDN'T KILL THE '60s.

IT TRIED.

FOR SURE.

WE HAD A SHOW THAT SAME NIGHT IN LOS ANGELES AND, OF COURSE, ALTAMONT WAS JUST OUTSIDE OF SAN FRANCISCO.

AND WE GOT OUT OF THERE THE AS FAST AS WE COULD.

NOBODY WANTED TO BE THERE.

I'M SURE NOT EVEN THE ROLLING STONES.

BUT I THINK THEY HANDLED IT AS BEST THEY COULD.

YOU KNOW?

SO THE 50 YEARS LATER, WHAT'S LEFT OF THE ESSENCE, THE MOVEMENT THAT WAS WOODSTOCK, DO YOU THINK?

THE ONE THING THAT COMES IMMEDIATELY TO MIND IS THE INTRUSION OF CORPORATE MONEY INTO ROCK 'N' ROLL.

WHEN THEY SAW 300, 400, 500,000 PEOPLE WHOEVER YOU BELIEVE AND THEY REALIZED THAT HEY, WE COULD SELL THEM ANOTHER PAIR OF SNEAKERS AND ANOTHER COLA HERE, THIS IS INCREDIBLE, THAT WAS WHEN CORPORATIONS STARTED TO GET INVOLVED IN THE PERFORMANCE OF FESTIVALS.

AND I THINK THAT I THINK THAT WAS A BAD THING.

SO LISTEN, A YEAR AFTER WOODSTOCK, A YEAR AFTER ALTA MONTH, DEJA VU CAME OUT EVEN BIGGER THAN YOUR FIRST ALBUM.

IN MANY PEOPLE'S MIND, IT WAS THE BIRTH OF A NEW ROCK 'N' ROLL DYNASTY.

A YEAR LATER THOUGH, YOU GUYS SPLIT UP.

WHY?

WHEN YOU'RE IN A BAND WITH FOUR MASSIVE EGOES AND FOUR MASSIVE TALENTS, IT GETS A LITTLE TRICKY SOMETIMES.

AND UNTIL THAT PARTICULAR CASE, IT WAS NEIL DECIDING THAT OUR DRUMMER DALLAS TAYLOR COULDN'T PLAY NEIL'S MUSIC THE WAY NEIL WANTED IT PLAYED.

SO THAT BECAME A STICKING POINT AND THERE WERE A LOT OF DRUGS INVOLVED, A LOT OF SMOKING WEED AND A LOT OF SNORTING COCAINE.

IT WAS A VERY TENSE TIME.

AND WE DON'T BELIEVE THAT WE EVER BROKE UP.

WE JUST -- WE JUST TOOK A SMALL VACATIONS FROM EACH OTHER OCCASIONALLY.

BUT YEAH, IT WAS AN INTENSE TIME FOR SURE.

DAVID CROSBY HAS SAID THAT THE FLUIDITY OF CROSBY STILLS AND NASH AND CROSBY, STILLS, NASH & YOUNG WAS THE IDEA FROM THE BEGINNING.

YES.

THAT YOU GUYS DIDN'T WANT TO BE A REGULAR BAND, THAT YOU WANTED THE FREEDOM TO SEPARATE AND COME BACK TOGETHER.

THAT MUST HAVE PLAYED A PART IN THAT, RIGHT?

IT DID.

IT PLAYED A HUGE PART.

WE'VE R WE'VE ALREADY HAD BEEN IN BANDS, THE HOLLIES AND BUFFALO SPRINGFIELD AND BIRDS.

WE WANTED TO BE ABLE TO COME TOGETHER WHENEVER WE WANTED WHEN THE MUSIC STRUCK US.

AND THAT'S HOW IT WAS ALWAYS.

THAT'S WHAT YOU'VE DONE.

BUT I RECENTLY HAD A CHANCE TO SPEAK DAVID BROWN WHO HAS WRITTEN THE MOST RECENT HISTORY OF YOUR GROUP AND I ASKED HIM, YOU KNOW, WHERE WOULD HE PUT COSBY STILLS AND NASH AND CROSBY, STILLS, NASH & YOUNG IN THE PANTHEON OF ROCK 'N' ROLL MUSIC.

WHAT DID HE SAY?

HE SAID YOU WERE WAY UP THERE BECAUSE OF THE QUALITY AND THE INFLUENCE OF YOUR MUSIC BUT THAT IF YOU HAD NOT BROKEN UP AND GOT BE BACK TOGETHER SO MANY TIMES IF YOU STAYED TOGETHER LONGER, IT WOULD BE EVEN UP HIGHER.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

I READ DAVID'S BOOK.

I WAS INTERVIEWED FOR IT.

HE'S A FINE WRITER AND A GOOD FRIEND.

MY ONLY COMPLAINT WAS IT SEEMED TO BE A DIARY OF HOW WE SCREWED UP.

YOU KNOW?

AND THERE WASN'T A LOT OF THE JOY IN THE MUSIC THAT WE HAD CREATED WHEN DAVID AND STEPHEN AND HAD I PUT OUR THREE VOICES TO BLEND TOGETHER AS ONE VOICE.

THERE WAS A CERTAIN INCREDIBLE JOY WHEN WE FIRST HEARD THAT SOUND WHICH HAPPENED IN JONI'S LIVING ROOM.

WE KNEW OUR LIVES HAD CHANGED DRAMATICALLY.

AND THAT I WOULD HAVE TO GO BACK TO ENGLAND AND LEAVE THE HOLLIES AND LEAVE ALL MY STUFF AND LEAVE MY FAMILY AND COME TO AMERICA.

THAT WAS THE MOMENT YOU DECIDED.

ABSOLUTELY.

BECAUSE WE'RE MUSICIANS AND WE WERE ALL PRETTY DECENT HARMONY BANDS, YOU KNOW, THE BIRDS AND THE SPRINGFIELDS AND THE HOLLIES WERE PRETTY GOOD AT HARMONY BUT THIS WAS SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT TO ALL OF US AND EACH ONE OF US KNEW, IN FACT, AFTER WE SANG THAT ONE SONG OF STEPHEN'S, 'YOU DON'T HAVE TO CRY,' WE SAID TO JOAN, WAS THAT AS GOOD AS WE THOUGHT IT WAS?

AND SHE SAID ABSOLUTELY.

AND SHE WAS THE ONLY WITNESS.

LISTEN, ACCORDING TO CONVENTIONAL WISDOM, THE WISDOM OF THOSE WHO WRITE BOOKS ABOUT IT OR MUSIC FANS, DAVID CROSBY IS THE WILD UNDISCIPLINED HIPPIE.

STEPHEN STILLS IS THE HARD TASK MASTER, THE PLATOON LEADER.

YOUNG IS OUT THERE, HARLEY IN YOUR ORBIT.

AND YOU ARE THE DIPLOMAT.

THE PEACEMAKER.

IS CONVENTIONAL WISDOM RIGHT?

I BELIEVE SO.

AND IT'S QUITE SIMPLE.

I WANT TO GET THE JOB DONE.

WHATEVER TASK YOU SET OUT TO DO, GET IT DONE THE BEST WAY YOU CAN.

AND I'D ALREADY EXPERIENCED MADNESS WITH SEVEN YEARS OF 15 TOP TEN HITS WITH THE HOLLIES.

SO THIS WASN'T SO CRAZY FOR ME.

WOODSTOCK WASN'T THAT CRAZY FOR ME.

THERE WAS AN AMOUNT OF PEOPLE THAT WERE NOT CRAZY FOR ME, KNOW?

BUT YES.

WE HAD CREATED SOMETHING AND WERE SO MOVED BY IT THAT I LEFT MY COUNTRY OF BIRTH TO COME HERE AND FOLLOW THAT SOUND.

BECAUSE I'M A MUSICIAN.

AND I WANTED THAT SOUND.

AND I ALWAYS WANTED THAT SOUND.

AND YES, I HAVE TRIED TO KEEP AS EVEN KEELED, I HAVE TRIED TO, YOU KNOW, BALANCE ARGUMENTS WITH PRAISE.

I'VE TRIED IT A LOT, YOU KNOW?

BUT I WANT TO GET THE JOB DONE AND THAT'S WHO I AM.

ARE WE GOING TO SEE THAT JOB BEING DONE AGAIN?

IS THERE ANY PLANS FOR THE FOUR OF YOU TO GET TOGETHER AGAIN, RECORD, PERFORM?

ABSOLUTELY NO.

OKAY.

MAYBE WE'LL WORK ON THAT DIPLOMACY A LITTLE BIT.

YES.

SO WHAT DO YOU THINK HAS BEEN THE GROUP'S MOST LASTING LEGACY, FINAL QUESTION?

I THINK WE MADE MUSIC THAT MADE PEOPLE SHAKE THEIR ASS AND THINK.

I THINK WE BROUGHT SOME MUSIC INTO THE WORLD THAT WAS DECENT MUSIC THAT WILL LAST FOR A LONG TIME.

I MEAN, I'M GOING TO BE 78 NEXT BIRTHDAY.

YOU KNOW?

IT'S BEEN A LONG TIME AND YET, PEOPLE STILL LOVE THE SONGS THAT WE -- I WAS SITTING IN CBS -- CVS TRYING TO PICK UP A SUBSCRIPTION AND 'WASTED AWAY' CAME ON THE RADIO.

I'M SITTING THERE GOING, WOW, THAT WAS A REALLY COOL RECORD.

IT MADE ME START TO THINK AND APPRECIATE EXACTLY WHAT IT WAS THAT WE DID AND TO HAVE THAT RECOLLECTION IN THE CVS WAS QUITE STRANGE FOR ME.

WE, I TELL YOU, GRAHAM, AND THE REST OF US KNOW EXACTLY WHAT YOU CONTRIBUTED TO MUSIC.

IT CHANGED MANY OF OUR LIVES.

I MEAN IT WAS.

CHANGED MINE.

THE SOUND TRACK OF OUR LIVES AND I REALLY APPRECIATE YOU TAKING THE TIME TO TALK TO US.

MY PLEASURE, THANKS.

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