That night, the amphitheater's grassy hill was covered with a rainbow of blankets and the summer sky's tapestry transitioned from amaranth to star-kissed indigo. That night, the band's harmonies enveloped us like the cool, comfortable breeze. Sitting there, cozy, between Mom and Dad, I noticed my family looked like so many others spread across the moonlit space. Twenty-something kid sandwiched by fifty-something parents.
What was it about this show that made it a family affair? This is what we were brought up on: late-sixties/early-seventies rock full of honest, poetic lyrics. This is what we were here to experience. Together. The sound of our homes, our lives. To reconnect and remember. To celebrate.
Just as Graham Nash struck a familiar chord on his keyboard, the crowd stilled in reverent recognition. In appreciation. In delight. "I'll light the fire. You place the flowers in the vase that you bought today." He sang; we listened as if this were the very moment we'd waited a lifetime to experience. Everything else dulled, dimmed, dismissed.
"Staring at the fire, for hours and hours, as I listen to you play your love songs all night long for me. Only for me," his iconic voice and clear, crisp piano accompaniment enriched the splendor of our surroundings. The hum of the audience grew to a crescendo as he launched into the first song I would ever teach my little one a few years later. Everyone sang, almost involuntarily; family by family.
"Come to me now, and rest your head for just five minutes. Everything is done." Bandmates David Crosby and Stephen Stills swept in with harmonies, magical and pure, anchoring my memories of family car trips and my dad singing for me. Only for me. "Such a cozy room, the windows are illuminated by the evening sunshine through them, fiery gems for you. Only for you." Everyone sang louder, uniting for what was to come...
"Our house is a very, very fine house. With two cats in the yard, life used to be so hard. Now everything is easy 'cause of you. In our house..." With heart, Crosby, Stills, and Nash sang, the parents sang, the kids sang, all holding back tears for the changing times since this tune's birth in storied Laurel Canyon in 1970. (This is where Graham lived in a little craftsman bungalow with his then-girlfriend, Joni Mitchell, who played her love songs all night long. For him. Only for him.).
"La, la, la-la-la-la, la, la-la-la, la, la-la-la-la, la, la-la, la, la, la, la, la, la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la, la, la, la-la-la-la, la-la-la, la-la-la-la-la, la, la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la," the music center, turned choir loft, resounded its makeshift chorus.
"Our house, is a very, very, very fine house. With two cats in the yard, life used to be so hard. Now everything is easy 'cause of you. In our..." Clunky chords signaled the song's close. "I'll light the fire. While you place the flowers in the vase that you bought today."
I blinked with eyes glassy and wet. It was then that I knew these three minutes would take deep roots and sustain me for a lifetime. That even years later, my mind and heart would hear the spontaneous chorus of parents and their kids "la, la, la-la-la-la"-ing together in uniform time. That someday, even when my fingers are too arthritic to play this tune on my own piano, I will remember how I once sat on a summery, star-kissed indigo night in the middle of my parents enjoying this song by one of their favorite groups that had grown into my favorite too.
(And this has nothing to do with that fact that now we have two cats in the yard...)