David Crosby passed away just the other day. As a fan of Crosby, Stills, and Nash, I was moved to listen to the group’s first album. It brought back powerful memories of when I first heard that album. I felt at the time that this album represented a reflection by CSN on the ethos of he 60s that was beginning to unravel as idealistic members of the counter-culture experienced ever more unsettling encounters with establishment authorities.
I was 21 in 1965 in a rock and roll band immersed and in the music of the British invasion and the pacifist mantra of the time; “make love not war”. We were idealistic and optimistic. We thought we could change the world. On the eponymous Crosby, Stills, and Nash album, released in 1969, David Crosby commented on the naive dream of the waning 1960s. In his song, Long Time Gone, he spoke with a more sober view of the future.
The chorus observes
Appears to be a long
Time, such a long, long time
Before the dawn
Crosby seemed to realize that “the dawn” was not eminent, that the change that had to happen would be some time in arriving. At the same time he advised his generation to not sit back and wait for it to happen but to help make it happen.
Speak out, you got to speak out against the madness
You got to speak your mind if you dare
In the terms of the language used in The Hopeful Mindset the madness referred to here is the Cynical Mindset with its assumption of the possibility that individuals exist as separate, independent beings in a world of separate phenomena. Because this view is contrary to the nature of the interdependent reality in which we exist it is madness to act in accordance with this erroneous assumption since such actions will necessarily be in conflict with the nature of things.
Hence Crosby cautioned against becoming part of the system in an attempt to effect the changes that he felt should be enacted.
But don’t, no don’t, no, try to get yourself elected
If you do, you had better cut your hair.
Crosby saw long hair as a symbol of the counter-culture. It also provided a simple, if superficial, way to distinguish the establishment’s adherents to the Cynical Mindset from those that did not buy into the values of that mindset but who embraced the values of the Hopeful Mindset instead, even if these values were not associated with a particular mindset at the time.
However, Crosby’s view was not a pessimistic one. He appears to have believed that “the dawn” would eventually arrive.
The darkest hour
Is always, always just before the dawn
I think it very unlikely that David Crosby could have imagined the darkness of the hour we witnessed under the Trump administration in the US or the current brutality of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. But perhaps these darknesses are necessary evils that must be experienced before we can no longer abide by the tragically mistaken values of the Cynical Mindset and are willing to admit the error of our ways. Perhaps with this realization we might be ready to consider the more compassionate and sustainable values inherent in the Hopeful Mindset.
David Crosby envisioned a new dawn, a dawn that would signal the arrival of a different and better way of being in the world. The values of the Hopeful Mindset have the capacity to guide us toward such a future.
And it appears to be a long
Appears to be a long
Appears to be a long time, such a long, long, long, long time
Before the dawn
It has been a long, long time since Long Time Gone was released in 1969, over half a century in fact and we still await the dawn. Climate change and other global concerns make it clear that we cannot continue with the status quo indefinitely. Here’s hoping that it will not be another long, long, long time before the first rays of the dawn of which David Crosby sang begin to brighten our horizon. When, in the words of Crosby’s dear friend, Joni Mitchell, we finally get ourselves “back to the garden”. Hope of Crosby’s new dawn actually emerging is justified when there is a way forward that has the potential to bring about that eventuality . The values of the interdependent mindset (Hopeful Mindset) have the potential to provide guidance in this direction because they are founded on a realistic view of reality. Acting on these values could bring about the dawn that David Crosby sang about and hoped for.