When I finally get myself together/I'm going to get down in that sunny southern weather/
And going to find a space inside to laugh/separate the wheat from the chaff/'Cause I feel like I owe it to someone.
That lyric is from a song called "Almost Cut My Hair" written by David Crosby - one of the members of Crosby Stills and Nash and Young.
It was 1969 when I first heard CSN. At age 13, my parents put me on a Continental Trailways bus out of Shreveport bound for Dallas to see my middle brother Benji. He had moved there to study classical guitar at Southern Methodist University. His little apartment was a little larger than a closet and his collection of LPs was mostly classical - with the exception of a couple of pop albums. One of the two was Crosby Stills and Nash.
I had never heard of them before but became intrigued when Ben told me that each member came over from bands I knew - The Byrds, The Holies, and Buffalo Springfield and that Stephen Stills was actually raised in Covington, Louisiana.
At the time, I didn't care that much for classical music, still don't. So while Ben was off at class I played the CSN album over and over.
Later I came as close as I ever came to meeting a few hippies. As far as I know, unlike Cal Berkeley, Dallas and SMU has never been known as a bastion of liberal thought but in the late 60's they did have their share of long-haired bearded sandal-wearing flower children walking around campus.
Even brother Ben, who actually came home from college the year before with a Humphrey for President bumper sticker on the family Ford, had grown a beard, long hair, and started wearing leather sandals. He kinda resembled
Jesus and didn't seem to notice, or care, about all the conservative heads he was turning when he picked me up at the bus station.
Historically the summer of '69 was quite memorable. The Viet Nam war was raging. Ben had a college deferment that kept him and his low draft number out of the war. The Beatles released a great album entitled Abby Road. We landed a man on the moon and returned him safely to Earth. Teddy Kennedy drove off a bridge on Chappaquiddick Island, Massachusetts. A bunch of musicians decided to gather in upstate New York at a pig farm owned by a fellow named Max Yasgur and they put on a concert in the rain and the mud called Woodstock.
Back in Dallas, I was living the teenage dream - having my first ever submarine sandwich, eating at Luby's Cafeteria in Highland Park, and Ben bought me tickets to see Dr. Zhivago and 2001 a Space Odyssey – both of which I could barely comprehend at my young age.
Most of the time I just stayed in Ben's apartment, read magazines, and listened to that one Crosby Stills and Nash album.
When I left for Dallas, I was 13 – not quite a child and not yet a man. When I boarded the bus for home, I felt much more the latter. I think every small town teenager ought to be dropped off on a foreign planet like Dallas and stay just long enough to see some really tall buildings, eat some different food, meet different kinds of people, and be exposed to different kinds of thought. It was a part of growing up that I'll never forget.