We were already two bottles of Malbec in the wind , with a fine celebratory tapas dinner under our belts, so the six of us were feeling no pain .As the hoary grey drizzle hung in the Irish air in that Sunday lag between the Orange Twelfth of July celebrations and the Scarva mock fighting of the following day, we stepped out into the beautiful six -thirty sunshine of the Liverpool streets . Neil young and Crazy horse beckoned at the Echo theatre.
Reality soon showed up in the form of a demo .The Liverpool friends of Palestine were out in a small vociferous group just outside the concert entrance .As the some twenty thousand punters filtered in to catch the warm -up act of local Liverpool musician Ian McNabb, leaflets were busily being handed out.
“Neil. you didn’t play in Apartheid South Africa! Why play Apartheid Israel?”
Now , you might think that is a fair point .In some respects it is .It is certainly worth some thought.The thing is though, there is a subtle difference of time and age and a few other more nebulous things. You see Neil Young was never an “entertainer”.When you went to see someone like Neil Young , you would be aware of his many would not be like going to see a pop or rock group like Queen. It would always be about the music and what was hiding inside the music. There’d be no dancing girls and costume changes here. Neil Young’s concerns were always about social issues and environmental ideas.This is the man who wrote “Ohio” minutes after the National Guards gunned down four students at an anti -Vietnam war demonstration .This is the man who dragged his old bandmates in Crosby , Stills , Nash and Young on a tour to impeach George Bush because of America’s dealings with Iraq. A tour that kicked up such a stink that it divided public opinion in America and had “fans” walking out of his shows for pointing out the iniquities of American foreign policy. A lot of Americans love America unquestionly. Neil being a Canadian anyway, possibly has something of an outsider’s perspective anyway.Sometimes fans will find it difficult enough to switch from his folky/country wooden acoustic lullabies to this barnstorming psychedelic abstractions of garage band collage. He doesn’t really care .He approaches it all like Picasso approaches painting or as Hendrix tackled the National anthem at Woodstock by grafting it seamlessly onto the the strum , drang and clatter of the war that was sucking the lifeblood out of America’s children.
This tour was for his psychedelic fans , rather than his folkies hordes but in the very centre of the rocking firestorm there was a lull wheer he seemingly purposefully answered his demonstrating critics by taking his acoustic guitar and playing Bob Dylan’s “Blowing in the Wind “….”A song you can take anywhere” he said .
I was simply thinking that the T-shirt he wore was saying it all already. It simply said in big stencilled letters….
I think he should take this music to every corner of the earth, and make them listen.
“Yes, how many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky ?
Yes, how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry ?
Yes, how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died ?
The answer my friend is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind.”
by Bob Dylan


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