Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – Sea of Madness


Crosby rehashes the Kennedy Assassination for what he
promised would be the last time. Stills doesn’t look confident, Nash
is contractually obligated to sit still, and Young stopped paying attention
to him in 1966


Listen -CSNT – Sea of Madness – MP3

Greetings all.

I hope the dawn of the new week finds you all well.
I spent the second half of last week cooling jets (and the rest of my body) in the hospital after I was felled by a renegade bacteria with which I wrestled for four unpleasant days.
I’m home now, and I’m going to post another Woodstock track (which I had planned to drop last Friday).
But first, a story.
Back in the olden days (1994), the 25th Anniversary of Woodstock rolled around, and my sister, her then-fiance and myself (Deadheads one and all) decided to pile into her Geo Metro and roll on up to Yasgurs farm to see what was going down. There were a lot of rumors in the air, about who might show up and play.  There was no official concert planned on the site, but in the spirit of the day, and no doubt a small, billowing cloud of pot smoke, we departed.
The drive up to the site was fairly easy going, until we got close and it suddenly struck me how small the roads were leading up to Yasgur’s Farm. I couldn’t imagine how the producers of the original event thought people were going to get there. It was also surprising to pass by a number of orthodox Jewish summer retreats a very short way from the festival, many of which looked to have been there in 1969.
As we got within a half-mile of the field we realized we could go no further, and paid some (other) industrious farmer ten bucks to park in his field. We unloaded our cooler and started marching down the dirt road to what appeared to be a fairly large gathering of similarly longhaired, tie-dyed typed, lots of tents, a small stage and a couple of what looked like tourbuses.
We got down to the field, set down a blanket and the cooler, and set out to explore. There had to be upwards of 10,000 people there, lots of young folks as well as many who looked like if they were not there in 1969, they were certainly old enough to have attended.
We sat, and waited, and waited, and waited,….no music (as long as we were there) but something simultaneously insulting and miraculous happened.
It started to rain.
Not just “rain” rain. Torrential, unforgiving, soaking rain.
Which of course brought on the mud, and the chanting.
It was like someone managed to preserve Woodstock but in a moment of stoned stupidity, forgot to grab the music.
Up until that very moment, I was all starry-eyed, zoning out and back in again thinking that something cool was going to go down.
However, things took another turn as soon as my clothes soaked through, and we were all wrapped in a icy blanket of unseasonable, August cold.
It was that moment that changed my mind about the whole, insane episode.
I was 32 years old, and no matter how much of a reprobate, I knew enough to get the fuck out of the rain and mud.
We packed up our gear, and slogged down one hill, and up the other, all through several inches of fresh mud, in sandals.
My brand new Birkenstocks (you’d be surprised how hard it used to be to find shoes like that in my Gargantuan size), mud squishing between my toes, making my feet slip on the soles.
I don’t recall exactly how long it took us to make it back to the car, but it seemed like an eternity.
We drove all the way home that night. More than three hours mud-to-door, and collapsed.
And there you have my personal “Woodstock Moment”.
The tune I bring you today has long been one of my favorites from the soundtrack album, which oddly enough did not appear in the movie.
As far as I’ve ever been able to discover ‘Sea of Madness’ was only recorded twice, both live concerts, once at Woodstock, and again at the Big Sur Folk Festival
I find the inclusion of ‘Suite Judy Blue Eyes’, and exclusion of ‘Sea of Madness’ from the film, ummm…maddening.
Listen/watch the SJBE performance in the film and it really backs up Stephen Stills proclamations about the festival only being their secong gig, and how the band was scared shitless. It’s shambolic, and amateurish at a level that I don’t see many other Woodstock bands sinking to.
‘Sea of Madness’ a Neil Young composition, is not only a better song, but a better performance. CSN were always stronger with the Y. However, the mercurial Mr. Young apparently refused to be filmed (huh?).
Flash ahead almost a month to the Big Sur Folk Festival, where CSNY, along with Dallas Taylor and Greg Reeves can be seen (in the film ‘Celebration at Big Sur’, a personal fave) the band is tigher, the selections more interesting (‘Sea of Madness, 4&20, Down By the River, and the Youngblood’s ‘Get Together’ with Joni Mitchell). It’s a great movie, and while neither the line-up nor the crowd could match the monumental status of Woodstock, there are some incredible performance, including Joni doing ‘Woodstock’, John Sebastian, and Dorothy Morrison and the Combs Sisters laying down a serious version of ‘Oh Happy Day’. You should check it out whenever you can.
I hope you dig David, Stephen, Graham and Neil (but especially Neil), and I’ll be back on Friday.




PS Head over to Funky16Corners for a WILD version of ‘Light My Fire’.

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  1. Great story. Supposedly “Sea of Madness” was actually recorded at another, later gig, at the Fillmore, despite its inclusion on the Woodstock LP. Maybe this is why it didn’t make the final cut for the film. Perhaps this explains the improved performance as well . . .

  2. so no proper studio recording … Neil released the track on his recent Archives box set, but it sounds like the Woodstock version with the crowd noise edited down and cleaned up. It’s really nice with better separation in the harmonies and instruments. As a kid I had Woodstock on cassette and I fell asleep many nights with my Walkman listening to this song and Wooden Ships.

  3. It appears there must have been some unissued studio stuff released at some point hence………


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