Alice Dryden (huskyteer) wrote,
Alice Dryden

"I like the old stuff...'course, these days, I am the old stuff"

Last Friday night I made progress in my attempt to see all the surviving performers from Woodstock by attending a gig by Arlo Guthrie at the 100 Club.

The first thing I noticed when I walked in was the chairs. I hadn't been expecting a sit-down concert (and I didn't get one, as I arrived too late for a seat and had to stand anyway). Secondly, where was the PA selling T-shirts and CDs? Thirdly, where were the crusties? This was all looking far too respectable. When I went to see Jefferson Starship at the same venue last year, there were attendees who had clearly been stored in a closet since 1969. Arlo's audience looked like nice people - vegetarians perhaps, CND members probably, but clean-cut and capable of holding down a job. People with a couple of small children at home who had nonetheless got away for a night out because they're still cool.

Arlo is also still cool, and I instantly wanted him for my adoptive groovy grandpa. He launched straight into a nimble-fingered 'Chilling of the Evening' and spent the next two hours on stage without a break or a band - just Arlo and a couple of guitars.

We got a lot of chat and anecdotes between songs, either to save his singing voice or because he just likes talking. I suspect the latter.

'The Motorcycle Song', a great favourite of mine, was preceded by and dedicated to the hero of this urban legend.

Songwriting tips? It's like fishing: sit and wait, and eventually a song will come floating by. But don't sit downstream of Bob Dylan. (Would it kill him to throw the small ones back once in a while?)

He's the first folkie I've seen since the election of President Obama. His views? "It's put a lot of protest singers out of work back home, but we all have to make sacrifices."

He talked a little about his father, Woody, and sang 'This Land Is Your Land'. How relevant is this lovely song to people outside the USA? It's a question Arlo has pondered, and he finally came up with the answer: "When it says 'from California to the New York Island' don't have to go the short way."

Rather than ending on his most famous song, he left it out altogether and finished with one of the legacy of lyrics Woody left behind on scraps of paper, teaching it to us so we could sing along: My Peace.

As with other Woodstock performers, I left with the impression that Arlo has never stopped trying to make the world a better place through music.
Tags: gigs, woodstock

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