Richie Havens was one of those artists who had that gift, that ability to see both the path of the discriminating mind and the world it has wrought and the way of the heart, writes ANTHONY TARRANT
Freed by Richie Havens
Richie Havens freed me in a way that I would not truly know or have any conscious appreciation for until I was in my 50′s. He was in the cell with me all along and helped blow the bars open wide from the inside out.
As I listen with new ears to him sing “Freedom” at Woodstock, a completely improvised piece from the soul of a musician out of material, thrust by an accident of history into the role of opening act before a crowd of 400,000 on a hot afternoon in a soaking wet orange dishiki. He just started strumming his instrument in that propulsive, rhythmic way only he could and just chanted the word “freedom” over and over until it started to sink into the crowd’s unified consciousness. Then he welded it to the verses of an old spiritual that could not have, in the history of the world, ever been more appropriate. I listen to it now and it moves me to tears.
Photograph: Richard E Aaron/Redferns (Credit)