Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Jeff Moehlis: Still Having Fun with Stephen Stills

Stephen Stills 2011.jpgDuring his performance at the Granada Theatre on Saturday night, Stephen Stills answered his own question about why he was playing so many songs by other people. He explained that having just helped put together an 85-song box set overview of his career in music, "I quite frankly got sick of me."

But the adoring audience wasn't sick of Stills, whether he was singing his own songs or those by others. Indeed, the audience was so full of good will that they didn't seem to be bothered by his somewhat strained vocals, which thankfully warmed up as the evening progressed.

The opening set mostly had Stills accompanying himself on acoustic guitar, with a highlight being Bob Dylan's beautiful "Girl From the North Country," which Stills introduced as a "song from a period called 'young, weird Bob.'" (Dylan freaks knew that this concert was on Dylan's 73rd birthday.)

He also played songs from a couple of his old friends from Greenwich Village — Tim Hardin's "Reason to Believe" and Fred Neil's "Everybody's Talking." Regarding the latter, Stills recalled pointing out that it only had one verse, to which Neil replied, "It doesn't need another one," and "Sing it twice."

Other songs in the opening set included a cool cover of Graham Nash's "I Used to Be a King" and the Manassas song "Johnny's Garden," which Stills introduced by telling an amusing anecdote about how he "inherited" the gardener Johnny when he bought Brookfield House in England, which had been owned by Peter Sellersamong others.
Of course, there were also some choice Crosby, Stills & Nash songs written by Stills — "Helplessly Hoping," "You Don't Have to Cry" with guest harmonies by David Crosby himself, "Southern Cross" and "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes," which showed off Stills' amazing guitar skills with some cool Eastern-sounding jamming, a musical quote of The Beatles' "Within You Without You" and a bit of "drumming" on his guitar.

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