Friday, January 20, 2023

Back in the D.D.R excerpt--David Crosby


I was sad to see the news that David Crosby had passed away yesterday at the age of 81. He was a big part of my life. I met him only once, and he kindly autographed this album cover for me (above), but his music was important to me since I first discovered him. I actually wrote about that experience in my latest novel "Back in the DDR." In honor of Crosby's death, I'm posting that excerpt from the book here today. It's out of context, obviously, but I think you can get an idea of what he meant to me.

The US Army bus stop was easy to find. The sign had a green border with a yellow background, and a green H in the middle of it. We took the Army bus line to PHV and walked to the Rhein-Neckar Halle in Eppelheim from there. It wasn’t a long walk at all. The hall holds about 8,000 people, but this concert was general admission, all standing-room, which meant it was first-come, first serve. Uschi insisted on getting there early. She really knew what she was doing.

                “Now before we go in there,” she said as we were in line, “there are two things you should know. One, we’re not going to stand too close to the stage because the speakers are really loud, and you aren’t trained to deal with that yet.”


                “And secondly, you’re going to smell some smoke that doesn’t smell like your dad’s cigarette or cigar smoke. Stay away from that smoke or you may get high.”

                “Drugs?” I asked.

                She laughed. “Harmless, but yes.”

                The doors opened and we got a perfect spot to stand about half-way back on the ground floor, to the left of the stage. I even had a railing to lean on. There were no seats except a few small bleachers on each side of the hall. It looks like they use this mainly as a sports hall for games like Handball (the group sport version), which is very popular around here for some reason.

Before the show started, I smelled the smoke that Uschi was talking about. It reminded me a little bit of the smell when a skunk gets run over near LaBagh Woods on Foster Avenue in Chicago.

                Someone behind me tapped my shoulder. When I turned around, I saw that familiar long hair and goofy facial expression. It was my Edgar Winter Group pal Johnny from the first day of school. He held a pipe in his hand. The skunky smell was wafting from that pipe.

                “Wanna share a bowl?” he asked. When he recognized my face, he lit up. “It’s you! The celebrity’s kid.” He slugged his buddy’s arm. “This dude’s got a famous dad.”

                Uschi pulled me away from them. They were giggling and slapping each other five as we walked away. I got a kick out of watching Johnny trying to explain to his buddy about my dad. He was having a very hard time putting his sentences together.

                “Is that the smell you were talking about?” I asked her.

                “Yes,” she said. “If someone offers you a bowl, that’s what they mean.”

                I finally understood.

                The concert was incredible. I didn’t hear some of my favorite CSNY songs, but Uschi explained to me that Stephen Stills and Neil Young wrote those. It didn’t matter to her. I could tell that Uschi was in heaven by the way she danced. It was like she was in a trance. I got excited too when they played a few songs that I loved like “Our House,” “Guinevere,” “Long Time Gone” and “Wooden Ships.” I thought the show was over after that, but Uschi made me stay.

“Watch,” she said. “They’ll come back for an encore.”

Not only did they come back, but the encore was the Graham Nash song “Chicago,” which made me a little homesick. I know the song is not exactly a warm tribute, but I loved hearing the crowd singing “Won’t you please come to Chicago.”

                On our way back to the bus station, I thanked Uschi profusely.

                “I really love having you live with us,” I said.

                She smiled, put her hand on my shoulder, and replied: “I never knew I had such a cool cousin.”