Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Book Review - Wild Tales: A Rock 'n' Roll Life

I recently listed to the audio book version of Wild Tales: A Rock 'N' Roll Life by Graham Nash.  I was interested in this story because music of the band Crosby, Stills and Nash (both with and without Young) was pretty much the soundtrack of my youth.  Several of my key life experiences between 15-25 come rushing back to me with uncanny clarity whenever I hear specific songs.  I played those albums endlessly and their music was often on the radio during those years.   I still listen to a lot of their work on Pandora.  So I was intrigued to learn a bit of the back story from Nash's point of view.

Frankly, it left me a bit disappointed.   I didn't care for the cavalier treatment of bad behavior.  I give Nash points for candid disclosure, but honestly, I could not help thinking over and over it is ungentlemanly to kiss and tell.   The thing about the '70s is that it was a pocket of time right after the Pill became widely accepted and before we were faced with the HIV/AIDS pandemic.   In that period of time when the baby boomers were at their hormonal peak, there was a whole lot of casual sex going on.  Then compound that with lots of drugs and you pretty much get the story that Nash unfolds.  Yes, he talks about the music and the various people he had opportunities to meet and make music with.  But over and over throughout the book it seemed more about the drugs and the sex, leaving me with an image of an old guy beating his chest with a leering grin to brag about the warrior days of his youth.  Not what I really wanted to hear.

The nice thing about listening to this book rather than reading it on print pages is that it is read by the author who sings little snatches of songs as he talks about the writing of them and what was going on at the time.  That's a nice touch.  Many times when choosing my audio books I deliberately avoid "read by author" volumes, preferring those who have invested in skilled dramatic readers....such as Will Patton reading James Lee Burke.    Just because a person writes well does not always mean they are great readers and more than once I've been distracted from the power of a story by a voice that was not pleasing to the ear.

With Nash, it was perfect to have him read his own words, both because it captured his English accent, keeping the listener firmly aware that his life experience was very much that of a guy from North of England who came to America and had this wild adventure of a life, and because of how he shares the songs that I grew up listening to.   Even  hearing just a snippet of Guinevere,  Lady of the Island, Teach Your Children, or other songs from the very source of those songs was a delight.  Learning the back story of Marrakesh Express and others was fun.

I would not recommend this book to teens, because I think it really does over glorify and attempt to justify all the indiscriminate sex with little regard to marital vows and it clearly portrays drug use in a positive light, despite the horrors of David Crosby's addictions that nearly cost him his life.   My current value system firmly rejects both of those as unacceptably destructive, so having him paint those behaviors as glamorous was not comfortable for me. Still, having lived through those years and remembering those times, I acknowledge that it is an accurate picture of how things were.   So what else would I expect?   I concede that for someone who lived the life that Nash describes, it would be nearly impossible to tell it any other way.

I find it tragic that all that excess cost a generation the lives and creativity of so many amazingly talented people who were casualties of the scene.   

The thing that comes through that I like about Nash's story is his consistent bond to the music - more than getting rich, more than being famous - it was about the music itself.   There is no question in my mind that the band Crosby, Stills and Nash created something very special and their body of work remains a treasure for us all.

The truly amazing thing is they are still touring, still making music, all these years later.  Graham Nash and David Crosby are now 72 years old.  Neil Young is 68 and Steven Stills is 69.

There is some great footage of Graham Nash's life on the show Biography which can be seen HERE.

Monday, May 5, 2014

A new favorite place

I have found a new favorite place.

I can't believe I have lived in Boise for three years and am just now discovering the beauty of this spot  One of the fabulous things about a city with a river running through it and a fairly progressive commitment to conservation is that we get places like this right in town - I pass by it all the time.  I finally decided to check it out this weekend to take my grandkids geocaching.  It seemed like a logical choice because it is just a short drive from my house and there were four different hides in the same general area so we decided to pay it a visit.

It was love at first sight.  Or was it the sounds?  The whole place is a cacophony of bird song.  We saw many different species of birds, along with bluegill, bass and, turtles.

Larry and I went back again today, this time with Morgan the Wonder Dog in tow for a nice hike.  This will definitely be a favorite spot to watch the seasons change.


Known by a variety of names, the Hyatt Hidden Lakes Reserve or Hyatt Wetlands, is a 44-acre haven for birds, animals, and people located on the edge of Boise's West Bench (5301 N. Maple Grove Road). It is also the site of an innovative stormwater treatment project featuring sand filters, stormwater piping, a porous pavement parking lot, Hyatt Logorestroom, an access bridge, pathways, public art, and educational kiosks. In addition, the park features environmental education opportunities with lessons taught by Boise WaterShed staff.