Well there’s just a little bit of magic
In the country music we’re singin’
Richie Furay did not expect to be here fifty years later, and neither did we. It’s not that we saw rock music as a fad, but that we thought we’d never get old, and if per chance we did, we’d be just like our parents, wearing conservative clothing and going to classical concerts and the opera.
But it didn’t turn out that way at all.
Richie Furay has had a peripatetic career, but he’s always had the music in him, he’s never been able to fully give up, although he tried. Most significantly in the sixties, when after failing to break through in New York City, he used an uncle’s connections to work at Pratt & Whitney in Connecticut. He assured this relative that he’d be there for fifty years, get the gold watch, but when his buddy Gram Parsons insisted he listen to the Byrds album, he quit, and sent a letter to find his old friend Stephen Stills, to start over, to try once again.
Richie’s letter to Stephen’s dad in Central America was returned postage due, but ultimately Richie made the connection and drove to L.A. to start over with Stephen, they’d sung in a group in New York that had even been featured on the Rudy Vallee TV show, but what you think is your big chance rarely is.
And they did run into Neil Young and his hearse on Sunset Boulevard. And they pulled over to Ben Frank’s to plot the Buffalo Springfield.
This you know, and so much more. Richie was reciting history from the stage, deep nuggets, but he acknowledged we were in the loop, that’s what being a rock fan was, long before the internet, the rumors, the realities, we had to know them all.
And after the Springfield there was Poco. Where he gave Timothy B. Schmit a chance after Jim Messina exited the band. Last night Timothy B. said he was worried it wouldn’t work out, but upstairs at the Troub, in one of the old dressing rooms, Richie told Timothy B. not to worry, he’d chosen him, he was the guy.
And then Richie moved on to the Souther, Hillman, Furay Band, whose first LP went gold, but during the recording of the second, in Miami with Tom Dowd, his heart was not in it and he quit. You see the kind woman wanted a family, they’d been separated for seven months, he wanted to be with her more than the music, or at least the fame.
And fifty-one years after their meeting at the Whisky, they’re still together, with thirteen grandchildren, and Richie is plying the boards again, playing the entirety of Poco’s third LP, the live “Deliverin’.”
But that was the second half of the show, after the break. The first half included a cornucopia of numbers, from Buffalo Springfield and his solo career and…
Richie was enjoying himself. I think even more than the assembled multitude, which was mostly over sixty, who’d been there, and knew every word. You see there’s a pleasure in playing, it far eclipses the fame, which won’t keep you warm at night. This was not a brief show, it was over two hours, this was about music more than saying you’d been there, this was the way it used to be.
And maybe the old Buffalo Springfield number “So and Say Goodbye” was the highlight of the first set, but the amazing thing was a recent number, “We Were The Dreamers,” fit right in. You see the band could play. Which is the way it used to be. CSN couldn’t hit the harmonies, just watch the “Woodstock” movie for edification. But at this late date, half a century later, in a club, Richie and his bandmates hit the notes perfectly, it was a revelation. As for the players, none of them were household names. Most were refugees from the era that was, when we all saw the Beatles on “Ed Sullivan” and picked up guitars and played. Some never gave up. They were on stage.
As for the second set, “Deliverin’”…
We couldn’t afford many albums. But those we bought we knew by heart, we played them over and over again. So those in attendance were all singing along, as Richie and crew ripped through the numbers with an exuberance most twenty-year-olds don’t display.
And when he hit “Hear That Music,” penned and sung by Timothy B…
The man with the now long gray hair emerged from the wings with a lyric sheet…
I thought this would be substandard, a joke, some flubbed lines.
Some songs are forever, some are part of the passage to what comes next, even though hardcore fans know them all.
Timothy B. had forgotten it, but when he stepped up to the mic it was 1971 all over again. His voice was crystal clear and he missed not a line. How Richie and Timothy can still hit the notes, sound like their young selves in their seventies, I do not know, but they do.
And the funny thing is even Jim Messina’s number “You Better Think Twice” was a winner. It’s been in my head all morning.
But when the show was over, after the applause continued, the band came out with Timothy B. for one more number.
Funny how the energy’s still there. How when we hear this music it doesn’t feel like nostalgia, but part of a long continuum. Funny how being at a show can be the same, sans seats of course. We used to take our music seriously, maybe standing is cool for punk shows, then again, these sexagenarians bravely stood throughout. It’s just that our music was not background, not light and poppy and forgettable, but everything. It was the sauce that made life worth living and our records were our most prized possessions. We didn’t go to the show to hang with our buddies and shoot selfies, but to connect with the gods on stage, as we closed our eyes and drifted away.
So Richie and crew were bringing us back down home where the folks are happy.
And when Richie and Timothy strode to the mics for the final number…they sang Poco’s “A Good Feelin’ To Know.”
And it was.