Keep on Rockin' in the Free World

The first Tuesday in October, the first Tuesday in November

Anyway, by the time CSNY got to "Rockin'" that night, I was bored out of my skull. But the song is indelible, and not even the sight of the waddling CSN backing Young could ruin it. I was sitting up in the Target Center press box, resting my chin in my hand, wondering why Neil even bothered with these jokers. The arena was dark, save for the stage lights and the small desk lamp and computer screen that illuminated my face. As I finished my review, I thought about how much I love Neil, and the song, and what it means to rock in the free world.

Then something weird happened. Young looked up at me, made eye contact, and raised the neck of his Les Paul in salute. At first I thought I'd imagined it, in that "He looked right at me!" delusion of the rock fan, but he kept grinning and staring straight at me. I sat up in my chair, tilted my head in pantomime question, and returned his look and grin. He stared back, laughed, and raised his guitar at me again. I got up on my haunches and gave him an exaggerated thumbs-up. He grinned maniacally, raised his guitar to me one more time, and went back to his bandmates. His message was clear: Hey, man. No worries. We're both workin' here. Don't let the bastards get you down. Keep on rockin' in the free world.

It was a small ripple, but it stayed with me, and I know I'm not alone. The morning after the Vote for Change concert, I visited the Wellstone Action! offices in St. Paul. When I was leaving, a young woman walked by me in the hallway, softly singing, "Keep on rockin' in the free world."

"Great song," I said.

"Wasn't that amazing last night?" she chirped. "I've been singing that song all day."

 

Jim Walsh can be reached at 612.372.3775 orjwalsh@citypages.com .

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