Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Standing Inside the Rain


Well, I suppose I should follow my Hendrix story with my unrequited love for Richie Havens story. I don't think a Woodstock theme is emerging. Time will tell.

It began many years ago, as most memories seem to these days. It was in the '70's and I was watching a television talk show. Couldn't tell you now which one, but Richie was a guest. In the course of the conversation he mentioned that he could remember being nine months old and he described this memory to the interviewer. Not knowing much about Richie, my ears perked up and it made me want to pay closer attention. There was something about his presence, even through the television, that reached out and touched me in ways I couldn't explain. Later, I would describe it to myself as a spiritual presence that seemed to enshroud him, in a very gentle way. I wasn't into auras, it was a feeling. Every time I saw him on television or listened to his music, there it was, same feeling. It didn't go away.

Then, in October of 1992, a whole bunch of musicians got together at Madison Square Garden and celebrated thirty years of Bob Dylan's music. Neil Young dubbed it Bobfest and it stuck. It was shown on PBS and I think I still might have it on VHS. That was a while back, and won't be viewed again in that format. The main reason I wanted to hang onto and re-watch portions of it, on more than one occasion? Richie Havens. He performed Dylan's song, "Just Like a Woman." I was transfixed, repeatedly.

A few years later, word was received that Richie would be performing at a high school auditorium only thirty miles away. Tickets were promptly gotten. I may not have let them out of my sight. It was a night I had been waiting for many years. Our seats were about five rows back, left center. It was perfect.

I couldn't tell you now what was on his play list that night, but I do know how he ended it. Yep. "Just Like a Woman." He played and played and played those strings with such unbridled enthusiasm and joy that by the end of the song we were all on our feet. He jumped up, too, and finished it standing, with broken strings flying every which way. He wore a long white robe and if Jesus had been a guitar player I think that's what he would have looked like, maybe sounded like, too. It was an ecstatic moment and the best altar call ever.

A few months after that, I was hanging out with friends and talking to a guy named Lars about that night. He'd been there, too. Afterwards, he went around to the back of the auditorium to see if he could see him, you know, the same stuff I used to do, until I didn't. Maybe you did that once or twice yourself? Hmmmm? Well, not only did he get to meet him, but there was a pickup game of basketball on the outside courts and there was Richie in his long white robe, playing basketball. Lars was asked to join and so he did, naturally. He played basketball with Richie Havens.

I'm still jealous.

Here's Richie with, "Tupelo Honey," and, "Just Like a Woman," from 1974 ( a beautiful segue), followed by the Bobfest version. In the comments below one of the videos a viewer wrote, "He winds up from beneath his feet and casts his soul across the universe." Exactly so. I include both only because I can't get enough of Richie Havens, and they're both great. I couldn't decide, so I'm leaving it up to you.

I have to add: just as I decided on the title of this post, taken from the song, it started to rain for the first time in a long while.



                                                     








                             





38 comments:

  1. Havens does Dylan's License to Kill.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JltNLkh03ME

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    1. I listened to it this morning! I almost included that instead for the timeliness factor.

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  2. Yes Mam.
    Timing is everything.
    Same as it ever was.
    New boss same as the old boss.

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  3. More than forty years ago . . . the first concert Tom and I went to together was in 1970, college, Richie Havens. He performed this and I still remember it. Sigh. Double sigh.

    I love the line " . . . if Jesus had been a guitar player . . . ".

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    1. Penny! I'm so glad to hear this! What a great memory.

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  4. I love your stories about Richie Havens. I always included him among the greats, but never saw enough of him to pick up on the spiritual side. I will be more aware of it now, thanks to you post, esp. the Jesus-playing-basketball image!

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  5. You are on a roll girl. A real good one!

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    1. Seems so, and it feels good. I'm having fun. Thanks, OF!

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  6. Oh, I also love Richie Havens. Thank you for the wondrous memories, and the realization I wasn't alone at all in loving his work... thank you again. :-)

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    1. Another Richie fan. Alright! You are most welcome.

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  7. Hi Teresa,

    Again you're introducing me to/reminding me of a musician that I don't know too well. I enjoyed the first video.

    I never waited outside of a concert venue, but my brothers and I went to the player's parking lot outside of Shea Stadium to see the Mets after the game a few times. We never got any autographs, but even if we had, the bigger thrill was meeting Stiller and Meara outside of the ballpark. That was cool. Such a cute couple.

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    1. Thanks for stopping in again, Ray. Your post today is rather interesting.... :)

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  8. Seeing/hearing Richie Havens singing 'Freedom' in the Woodstock movie I'll never forget.

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  9. Richie came to me with the 1st Woodstock album and I went out of my way to see him many times, once sitting on the floor of a food coop.He plays a amazing guitar and leads me into a lovely thought each time I hear him.Watch how he plays and it is a self taught method.Amazing voice also, I think I like to hear him sing covers and "Freedom" the best.

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    1. It is a very unusual style of playing and such a rich timbre to his voice. How wonderful to see him in those settings!

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  10. You have a fabulous memory and a lovely way of describing it.

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    1. It's odd, but I am able to call up events with details. They seem to have been locked into my mind at the time, ready to be called forth.... now. :) Thank you, Linda.

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  11. As I read through your fascinating post I kept hoping "I hope she has included a clip at the end of the piece". Your writing made me want to hear him singing and then you delivered the experience. Now that is the delight of new technology in the hands of a good writer.

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    1. Oh, thank you, Alan. For all my grousing about technology, it is the most amazing and wonderful thing in so many ways. We get to communicate like this, for one!

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  12. I always liked Richie's voice, so soothing, and yet he emanates such energy, I saw Richie in a small club near Los Angeles back in the 70s, can't remember the city now, I want to say Newport Beach. It was wonderful to see and hear him up close, never did like big concerts since they were always so loud.

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    1. Oh, the energy. Lordy. The smaller the venue, the finer the experience.

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  13. Such rich musical experiences and memories....enjoy your rainy day and your music!

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    1. The world is a happy place to be today. Thanks, Ashling.

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  14. He plays about an hour from me in a small bar in Jersey. I think he lives there.

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    1. I had read somewhere that he lives in Jersey. A simple life in a simple house. Same as always. Thank you so much for stopping by!

      That would be a fun gig to catch him in.

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  15. Is there a more soulful singer ever? Richie Havens singing "Just Like a Woman" is a very moving experience. I have seen him in concert a couple of times and he really connects with the audience. Genuine!

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  16. I agree, you are on a roll Teresa. A very interesting post. The first concert I ever attended was Richie Havens. It was at Hilton Colosseum at Iowa State University in 1973 or 1974. He had a great stage presence and he had the crowd in the palm of his hand. Here Comes the Sun. Best to you my friend.

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    1. Thank You. Now why am I not surprised? :)

      The best to you, also. I'm glad we're friends.

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  17. Shalom! Today is the International Day of Peace (9/21/12) May you and all countries know and enjoy peace.

    May you have a peaceful week-end!

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  18. Dear Teresa, thank you. Peace.

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