4+20

They’ve been trying to get Andy Zax on the podcast.

Zax is the archivist responsible for Woodstock complete, the 38 CD set coming out this summer.

I wasn’t sure. I don’t know the guy, hadn’t heard of him previously, so I asked for more information, on him and the project.

After a bunch of e-mails, today they sent me the recordings…HOLY SHIT!

Took about 11 minutes to download. I used the time to empty my closet, clean the dishes, pay a bill, and I was coming back to the iMac to finish the e-mail and shut it down. Tomorrow I’m working on my MacBook Pro. And I find if I don’t turn the computer off, I’m on it all night, searching for nuggets.

So, I’m getting the e-mail aligned, I use POP, not IMAP, because I get too damn much to use IMAP. That’s right, I keep EVERYTHING. As long as it’s addressed directly to me. So I can look up the pricks who keep sending hate mail. Yup, someone’s excoriating me so I go back into the archives, fifteen years, and almost always I find this person has been a prick from day one. Like the right wingers. Whenever I say anything positive about Democrats, or negative, even mildly, about Trump, I know I’ll hear from the exact same people, they’re working the refs. But only since I write so much do I know they’re on a campaign and I should ignore them. They’re one note Johnnies. Some are rich, and some are so poor, tenuously making ends meet, that I can’t understand how they’ve bought the B.S. I mean if you’re rich and a Republican I can understand, but if you’re poor? You want the rich to continue to rule and have the safety net eviscerated? Then again, this has been well-documented, people voting against their interests. But most people opining are not on the front lines, they’re faceless, they don’t get blowback on a regular basis.

So, having finished the e-mail, I decided to sample the Woodstock box. As I said, I have a hard time getting off the computer.

And I’m wondering what to pick, and then I decide to make it Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, since they’re noted for being unable to duplicate the studio sound, the harmonies are always off. So I drop the needle/click on “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” and… I’M ASTOUNDED!

Now I’ve got a first rate speaker system hooked up to my iMac, a Genelec three-way. But I hadn’t noticed they’d sent me AIFF files. It was like I was going through a time warp, right back to ’69, with a direct line to the Woodstock stage.

Now my understanding is these are the raw tapes, not overdubbed. Hell, the version of “Sea of Madness” on the original three disc set is actually from the Fillmore East! But I truly know the tapes weren’t fixed because…

Stephen Stills’s voice was intact. Crosby sounds like an angel. Stills sounds like an angel with broken wings. There’s the sweetness and the roughness. He’s got emotional miles on his voice, at least he did before he had literal miles on it. And that’s why he was the star. He wrote, played and sang…

It’s getting to the point
Where I’m no fun anymore

We all knew these lyrics. The initial Crosby, Stills & Nash album had come out in the spring of ’69, but it took a while to percolate in the marketplace, when they played Woodstock they were not yet superstars. But by the spring of ’70, if you were hip at all, you knew the track, knew it was about Judy Collins, played it on the guitar if you were talented, but we all sang along…ALL THE TIME! “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” was never a single, but it was bigger than any single in the marketplace today. Forget Drake, Beyonce and Swift. CSN was embedded in the culture, and music was embedded in the populace, the whole world ran on music, that’s what Woodstock was about, a celebration of this fact, when 400,000 people showed up the straight media, the disbelievers, were hipped, that music was the primary driver of a generation.

Now when you’re listening to CD quality on an almost $2,000 system you can hear EVERYTHING! Like I said, it’s like it’s happening right now, not 50 years ago. The guitar is not processed, it’s not fixed in the studio, it sounds like you do in your bedroom, picking away. And you can hear each individual voice when they’re singing, you tingle…THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT JONI MITCHELL HEARD IN HER HOUSE!

How could this be fifty years ago?

That’s another thing, our music was not temporary, but for all time. We’re not re-evaluating CSN today, we’re as addicted as ever, which is why all those old acts can tour to throngs at high prices.

So halfway through, I look at the set list, the Mac window, to see what else is included. And I see “4+20.” Yes, Stephen Stills wrote it when he was 24 years old.

Now the first year I lived in Utah, my housemate in Sandy used to sit in front of the stereo and play this track and contemplate his own life, he’d just turned 24.

It was way different back then. You graduated from college and you didn’t look for a job, YOU LOOKED FOR YOURSELF! You didn’t know where you were going, you had an inkling, but you wanted to get high and go on road trips and listen to music while you were figuring it out. No one was a billionaire, you were not falling behind by not selling out. Furthermore, you could live on minimum wage. Less than two bucks an hour. I know, BECAUSE I DID IT!

But “4+20” didn’t resonate for me in Utah. Oh, I always liked it, but it wasn’t until I was completely lost in the nineties and the CSN box set was released that it truly resonated.

Four and twenty years ago I come into this life
The son of a woman and a man who lived in strife
He was tired of being poor
And he wasn’t into selling door to door
And he worked like the devil to be more

It wasn’t much different for all of us. Our parents were not our best friends, they didn’t always know what was going on with us, but they knew they had to provide. My father was poor, had nothing. Started out as an engineer but only did that for one year, he was not a company man, he opened a liquor store. He was on a long journey to be more.

A different kind of poverty now upsets me so
Night after sleepless night I walk the floor
And I want to know, why am I so alone
Where is my woman, can I bring her home
Have I driven her away, is she gone

Money doesn’t solve all your problems. You think it will, and there’s nothing worse than being unable to pay the bills, it messes with your head, you’re always on guard, but once cash is not your number one priority and you can survey the world, your life, you wonder if you’re getting it right. And what you want most, is love, sex, companionship. It’s so hard to make it, you’re one-minded, working around the clock, all hit and run, but once you’ve got traction you want to delve deeply into all that you left on the back burner.

Morning comes the sunrise and I’m driven to my bed

Today everybody brags how early they wake up, that’s the badge of honor. If you’re not waking up before six, four-thirty, you’re laughed at. But that’s not the way it used to be. Almost everything good, everything cerebral, happens when after dark. Musicians are famously night owls, hell, it takes time to come down from the gig, but… It’s those conversations after, the jamming, that makes the road and studio life worth it. You’re bonding. It’s just like going to college, but you’ve got no tests, no restrictions.

I see that it is empty and there’s devils in my head

Loneliness. You can live with someone and bitch, but there’s a floor, a base as to how low your feelings can go, but if you’re alone, your mind can go into free-fall.

I grow weary of the torment, can there be no peace
And I catch myself just wishing that my life would simply cease

It’s so different today. Today it’s all about braggadocio. My life is FABULOUS, I’m better than you! And then there are the diss tracks. No one’s owning their inner feelings. Listeners feel inadequate, or just slough off the mindless crap, knowing it’s just background music.

Then again, CSN&Y weren’t just born yesterday. David and Graham had been in bands with a slew of hits, they’d ridden the merry-go-round, they’d paid their dues. And Stephen and Neil… Buffalo Springfield was seen as one of the most credible bands extant, and Stephen wrote an anthem, one that still gets traction today, “For What It’s Worth.” Then again, that song was about the youth standing up to the man. Today, the policeman is not the Fuzz or a Pig, but your supposed friend, your protector, and the only thing the youth will come out in droves for is jobs, or festivals, where the truth is they are the stars. Coachella survives, the acts don’t. And we keep on hearing about how much money everybody makes. If you’re into music for the money…hell, there are much easier ways to make money. And why is everybody creating clothing and perfumes and… Back then you could leave money on the table, no one does today.

Now “4+20” wasn’t even out. It was on “Deja Vu,” which was released in March of 1970.

But you don’t have to know great acoustic music to get it.

So Graham introduces the track, and Stephen starts to pick, all by his lonesome, he’s got the talent, he’s got the chops. And he starts to sing.

You had to have it all or odds were you weren’t gonna make it. You had to be able to write, play and sing, the Beatles set the template, and everybody followed them. All the action was on FM, not AM. These acts were giants!

And the funny thing is if you lived through that era and you listen to these cuts you’re truly brought back to yesteryear, because they live and breathe, you’re bought back to when you saved your money to buy records, when concerts were a tribal rite, when you fell asleep to the radio.

It was a long time comin’, and unfortunately it’s been a long time gone.

First came corporate rock. Then MTV, where it was about how you looked as opposed to how you could play. And now it’s everybody for themselves, with no filter, everybody’s yelling for attention.

It didn’t used to be that way.

Now we have these artifacts, these tapes, which is why the Universal fire was such a big deal.

But the people making this music are not going to live forever. And when they’re gone, they’re gonna be missed, their reputations will grow…hell, to the point there are hologram tours.

But there’s nothing like the real thing.

These Woodstock tracks are the real thing.

P.S. I’m now listening to “Helplessly Hoping.” Whew, it’s almost better than the original, it’s got this intense humanity…IT’S MAGIC!

Do’s and Don’ts

Don’t feel bad that you don’t know what’s going on, today no one knows what is going on.

Do ignore the trolls, what they’re looking for is a reaction, and once you give it to them they’re not only satisfied, they’re encouraged and double-down.

Don’t assume you’ve got all the facts. Chances are your news sources are biased. Or shaded.

Don’t believe all the facts. Despite the internet being built on 0’s and 1’s, it’s easier than ever to employ subterfuge, since there’s no common police, or referee.

Don’t follow leaders and watch the parking meters. This is the era of the individual. Go your own way.

Don’t assume anyone is that big and influential. We live in a decentralized world with little commonality.

Do check Twitter once a day. The app is vastly improved. Click on the tabs at the top, “For You,” “Trending,” “News,” “Sports,” “Fun” and “Entertainment.” It won’t take you long and you’ll get a snapshot of what is going on. The point is you no longer have to follow anybody to get the benefits of Twitter, which is the true town square. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat…they’re one to one, Twitter is now many to one. Sure, it’s built on one to one, but you don’t have to play it that way.

Do think twice about buying an expensive gasoline car. Its value will decline precipitously over time. Better to lease. Or to jump into the electric game.

Don’t think you can become famous without a unique, definable talent.

Do watch English dramas on Netflix. They’re more rewarding than the American dreck.

Do know that cable news is all about talking heads bloviating, they do almost no reporting.

Do know that reporting is done by newspapers, and when it’s national and international the biggest players are “The New York Times” and “The Washington Post.” “The Wall Street Journal” is good for business news, but its national and international news is second-rate. The “Times” and “Post,” set the agenda for the whole country, they’re what both the left and the right react to, whether they agree or not.

Do know a tree can fall in plain sight and no one hears it.

Do know it’s all about software, not hardware these days.

Do know that software can be confusing, but a lot of it can be conquered and understood if you just put in the time. Youngsters know this, oldsters don’t. And if there is a manual, it’s always a good thing to read it, to extract power if nothing else.

Do know that football outside of America does not mean the NFL, and that basketball and soccer are the international sports.

Do know that everybody needs something to live for, and if you can provide it, you can be rich. Sure, people need products, but what I’m talking about here is ideas.

Don’t bother hating Apple or Microsoft…that war is over.

Do know that #1 is oftentimes not really #1. The “Billboard” #1 is based on streaming, sales and radio, in weights that don’t make sense. But more than ever, it’s not about the current or mainstream, it’s hard to quantify the success and mindshare of acts that are not on that chart.

Do know the game is rigged against you, but in many situations you can beat the game.

Do not bother going to the movies to catch up. We live in a Tower of Babel society where there’s almost no commonality. If you want to go to the theatre, cool. But know that everything hits the flat screen soon. What the purveyors don’t understand is that their platforming is working against them, they’re losing the hype factor, the word of mouth, because everybody is beginning at a different starting line.

Do know unless you learn a trade you’ve got to go to college. And in college what you learn outside the classroom is more important than what you learn inside. Although you need a degree to get a job, don’t believe that the courses you take in college are preparation for your future, unless you take computer science or accounting or are on a couple of other tracks. You’ve got no idea what you want to do at eighteen or twenty, and the truth is you’ll get kicked around and wake up and end up doing something different anyway. So you want a foundation for the future. You’re better off taking an art class than a business class. This is contrary to what the anti-elites and the super-elites want you to believe. The antis because they feel left out and must criticize, and the supers because they think their path is the only one. But neither one of them is correct. It’s your life and your life only, better to do what you want to do than be unhappy.

Do know that its harder than ever to make ends meet. But if you’re not willing to sacrifice, you’re not going to achieve success going down the path less traveled. There are no guarantees in art, no matter how many degrees you’ve got, no matter where you went to school.

Don’t bother going on late night TV to spread the word, despite all the press, few people are watching, and their odds of being motivated are very low. Better off being on Howard Stern, he’s got a large audience that is motivated, he can move the needle.

Don’t bother accumulating assets, it’s about experiences. No one wants to hear about your car, unless it’s a Tesla, they want to hear about where you ate, what you saw and where you traveled.

Do read fiction, you’ll learn more about life than reading non-fiction.

Do know your parents were not always right, and by adhering to their precepts as opposed to questioning them the only victim is you. The older you get, the more you respect others’ way of doing things.

Don’t be late.

Worst Career Move-SiriusXM This Week

Bill Squier’s pink video?

Peter Frampton’s “I’m In You”?

David Lee Roth leaving Van Halen?

Or…

“Lefsetz Live,” Tuesday June 18th, on Volume 106, 7 PM East, 4 PM West.

Phone #: 844-6-VOLUME, 844-686-5863

Twitter: @lefsetz

Hear the episode live on SiriusXM VOLUME: HearLefsetzLive

If you miss the episode, you can hear it on demand on the SiriusXM app: LefsetzLive

Warren’s Ascension

The mainstream media is always last.

No, wait a minute, even if you hate Elizabeth Warren you’ve got to hear what I say. Because it applies to you. The issue is how do you get famous and have your ideas heard in America today.

You’ve got to do the work and you must be selling substance.

Elizabeth Warren is on the road. Most of the audiences are relatively small. There’s not a ton of press coverage of each event. She’s just like a crack band bubbling under, that is not understood by the mainstream, is seen as an also-ran and then…THEY BLOW UP! Can you say Bruce Springsteen? His first LP was an anomaly, not representative of his sound, the band was there, but deep in the background, “Greetings From Asbury Park” was more New Dylan than the Springsteen we all now know. But the sound was there for everybody to hear on “The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle.” But now Springsteen was no longer the new thing. And the mix on the LP was a bit muted, it lacked edge. So the album didn’t sell and Bruce went on the road convincing consumers one by one. If you saw him, you talked about him. Until that famous moment when Jon Landau said he’d seen the future of rock and roll and the tide turned. The Landau article was in Boston’s “Real Paper,” the paper of record amongst the youth, devoured by everybody, Landau’s review wasn’t first, but it was the most important.

Same deal with Elizabeth Warren. She’s been around for years. Mostly in the background until the right started attacking her. And before you get your knickers in a twist you righties, know that she wanted to protect the populace, the rank and file, from the corporations. You can’t be against that unless you’re sucking at the tit of the corporation yourself, making seven figures, and that’s a very small number of people. You’re getting screwed and don’t even realize it. Those insane interest rates on your credit cards? Warren wanted to stop them.

But Warren was depicted as a schoolmarm and no one on the left ran to her side, to defend her, because they don’t want to get caught up in any war that doesn’t benefit them directly, they don’t want the potential stink upon them.

So Warren went her own way and ran for Senate and won.

This is the act that refuses to do what the A&R person says to. Who won’t cowrite, who won’t work with the producer du jour, who has a sound he or she wants to get down and doesn’t want any interference. But can you go on your own, do it your way, prove it yourself? We hear about the winners, but not the losers. The truth is most people are scared to do it by themselves, they’re convinced they won’t succeed, they tell themselves they need money, it’s undoable. But even today, if you’ve got the goods and you play live, or release an undeniable hit like Lorde, you can make it.

And then Warren got into the Senate and spoke English. Nobody speaks English in D.C., it doesn’t behoove you. You obfuscate, keep the lobbyists close, it’s all about raising money for your reelection campaign. Screw the people you’re representing, you give them lip service, but your true constituency is the corporations. And when someone comes along and blows the whistle on that, says she’s for the people, you blanch.
It comes down to big media too. You can’t make a ton of bucks writing stories for a newspaper or magazine, and the subjects you write about know this. So they lay on perks. And if you say you can’t take those, they work around it. Give you access they normally wouldn’t. Give you stuff that’s theoretically outside your beat. Or dangle a job when you’re ready, at a much better salary. Furthermore, mainstream media depends upon ads. The corporations are the customer, via their ad agencies, not the audience. So, “The New York Times” is not gonna be a hotbed of revolution. And Fox is gonna play to its base. Because otherwise, they’ll lose audience and lose ads, or the value thereof. So, the mainstream media is always last.

So now you get the voices in the wilderness. The small periodicals, the individuals. And in the old days, there was a clear line of demarcation. If you weren’t on the major label you were ignored, seen as inferior. If you couldn’t get your stuff published in a mainstream mag, you were a kook who should be stayed away from.

And that describes a lot of people online, but not all of them. This is what the internet has wrought, a whole bunch of interested citizens writing about news and analyzing it that the mainstream media just can’t fathom. They’re the kings, right? Well, maybe not. Like the major labels during Napster, like the major labels today. And all the emphasis is on recordings, but the truth is today it’s about the road, not only because of the economics, but because personal appearances bond you to the audience. Which is why the more it’s on hard drive, the less you connect. If you play it all yourself and don’t cover up the mistakes you’re seen as human and attendees have a true experience as opposed to watching a canned show and talking amongst themselves. That’s how you know when you’ve truly connected, when everybody’s put down their smartphone and is focusing on you. You don’t need rules banning devices you just have to be that good.

So the shadow news is where movements start, where stories break. And if you don’t think they have power, look at Steve Bannon and Breitbart.

But when the noise becomes big enough, when it’s loud enough, the mainstream media dives in, it wants to own the story. And this is a good thing if you’re the act/purveyor, it signals to everybody paying attention that you’ve made it. Whereas if you get the publicity first, it’s wasted, today you have to have something to back it up.

So the mainstream media wisdom was that Elizabeth Warren was unelectable. All the focus was on non-candidates like Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke and Pete Buttigieg. Yes, even Mayor Pete, he’s got no chance this time around. Maybe close, but no cigar.

And then there was the excoriation of Bernie and the wait for Biden to rescue the Party and put the Democrats on top.

But everybody in entertainment knows the best-laid plans often go awry. Hell, the big story in movies today is the failure of the latest “Men In Black” iteration. Everybody discounted the public’s opinion, the film grossed even less than already low projections.

This is just like in music. How many highly touted albums stiff? It happens all the time. Illustrating all the pre-hype is worthless…coming albums, coming books, reviews before you can hear or read… The public is addicted to the Tomatometer. People wait until it hits the street and then they put their finger to the wind and judge the mood, if it’s a stinker, they stay away.

But how come the public is more sophisticated than the purveyors, the mainstream media? That’s the story of the internet era, how those supposedly “in charge” get it wrong over and over again. They’re inured to the past, whereas it’s always about looking forward, not back.
So Elizabeth Warren percolates in the marketplace, is sometimes begrudgingly acknowledged, and then she goes way up in the polls and the mainstream media gloms on. Hell, if they weren’t so busy lunching and bloviating to their peers, and were surfing the web and were out on the street, they’d have felt it, just like I felt the Trump wave and everybody in the mainstream did not. Because I was on the front line. Anybody who was on the front line felt the blowback. But if you’re not… And everybody in the mainstream is not, the talking heads cashing their checks on TV, the reporters who don’t want to hang with THOSE people and…

“The New Yorker” feature is excellent. It’s mostly facts, not opinion.

But today’s “New York Times” feature is half a takedown. I’ll attribute it to woman on woman hate. Women criticize each other more than men criticize women. Oh, men commit many faux pas and hold women back, but the perception is that if you leave it to women, it’ll be all right. For an example to the contrary, look at the Women’s March, which was riddled with anti-Semitism.

So the author of the “New York Times” piece, Emily Bazelon, has got quite a CV, she went to undergrad and law school at Yale, her grandfather was a judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals. Who is this interloper who went to run-of-the-mill colleges and Rutgers for law school think she is? Bazelon’s viewpoint is that of the insider, assessing the game she knows, and not the one she doesn’t, to her detriment. But, once again, the usual suspects have an investment in the past, these are the elites not only Trump fans abhor, but rank and file lefties too.

But this is Sheelah Kolhatkar’s beat. Business. And that’s the essence of Warren’s candidacy, economics.

That’s why Warren’s booming, she’s speaking English about income inequality, she’s got plans to decrease it.

And what do the usual suspects say…IT’S UNWORKABLE!

No one likes to snuff hope like someone already in power. They’re afraid of the new.

But not the public.

Meanwhile, Warren is playing the long game, with her plans. She’s so far ahead of the rest of the pack, they can’t catch up. Biden is afraid of offending someone, Sanders has the right viewpoint, but he’s nowhere near as specific as Warren, and everybody else is playing personality politics. Like we care about your dog and your smile and your likability.

Anybody becomes likable if they deliver what you want, the ugliest person. And right wingers know they got shafted by Trump, because he’s erratic and didn’t deliver on his promises. And the media no one pays attention to keeps talking about this, but who wants to listen to these self-righteous wankers? But they want to listen to Elizabeth Warren, who is not top-down, but grass roots.

Whether she wins the nomination or not, Warren has proven the game has changed. That she’s more in touch with a changed public than the “New York Times” and most of D.C.

As for the debates, assuming she gets the nomination, where is it written that substance doesn’t matter? Warren is the queen of the takedown, she’s famous for it, watch this video where she gives it back to John Stumpf, CEO of Wells Fargo:

Senator Elizabeth Warren questions Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf at Banking Committee Hearing

All the attention is paid to the mob, not the individual. You get the feeling no one cares about you or me. Hell, I’ll talk about me. I was on the road and entered payments on two credit cards in my checkbook, but spaced it and didn’t pay them on my phone app. Fine, my fault. BUT THEN I HAD TO PAY NEARLY FIFTY BUCKS IN PENALTIES ON EACH CARD! AND THE BALANCE ON ONE OF THE CARDS WAS EVEN LESS THAN THAT!

I hate making mistakes, but I can afford it. But how about someone who is struggling to make ends meet, fifty bucks means a lot to them. And Warren has learned those who are poor are not lazy takers, many times they’re working two jobs and one blip and they’re on the road to bankruptcy. But it’s a better story if it’s the individual’s fault, no one wants to admit the system is broken and doesn’t serve the people but the corporations.

Everybody but the rich can identify with Warren’s statements.

And we’ve seen the Trump movie before, in Minnesota, with Jesse Ventura. Every action has a concomitant reaction. One thing’s for sure, Trump is not an expert on policy, international relations, so much. The public is now ready for someone experienced, which is why if they wanted to win the Republicans wouldn’t even run Trump, they’d find someone with experience to speak to the base he awoke.

But, like I said, institutions abhor change. Not only the newspapers, but the TV companies too, they can’t stop bitching about Netflix, which was seen as a joke until it started making its own hit programs and got 100 million subscribers. It might even be too late for competitors to get real traction.

And record labels are risk averse, now more than ever. They want a predictable hit, something that sounds similar to what’s already successful. This is why music is stagnant, a joke. But one thing’s for sure, someone in the trenches, outside the system, is gonna turn the table over, the audience demands it.

And the audience demands our country step forward and change, because it’s just not working for too many of us.

This is the road Elizabeth Warren is taking. This is the road the mainstream media couldn’t see in 2016 and can’t see today.

But they’re waking up.

Because you can’t keep a good woman down. You can’t muzzle a knowledgeable source whose views are based on substance. You see it’s the same as it ever was, America believes in truth, justice and the American way.

Is Elizabeth Warren Superwoman?

We’re about to find out.

Elizabeth Warren Is Completely Serious “The New York Times”

Can Elizabeth Warren Win It All? “The New Yorker”