Musicians David Crosby and Graham Nash discuss their impressions of the Occupy Wall Street movement with Keith. The duo also performs an original song a cappella
transcript after the fold
KEITH OLBERMANN: Best known as two thirds of the group Crosby, Stills and Nash — or, if you prefer, half of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young — their careers also encompass their work as a duo, thriving solo careers and classic, early performances with The Birds and The Hollies. Along with songs of love lost and found, they are known for such powerful political messages as Crosby’s “Long Time Comin'” and Nash’s “Military Madness,” which they performed at Zuccotti Park today, and which we referenced at the top of the program. Their latest release is a DVD of Crosby-Nash in concert on their 2011 tour. And it is my great pleasure to welcome musicians and activists David Crosby and Graham Nash to “Countdown.” Gentlemen, a pleasure to have you here.
GRAHAM NASH: How are you?
OLBERMANN: Very well, and I’m honored that you’re here.
NASH: I can’t tell you how honored we are. We follow you completely and completely agree with most of the things that you say.
OLBERMANN: I thank you kindly for that. Tell me about Occupy Wall Street — what did you see down there and what did you take away from it, Graham?
NASH: We saw the voice of the people. We saw them. We saw the same energy that was in Selma, in Alabama. We saw the same energy in the Vietnam War and the lady struggles and the African-American struggles for the vote. We saw that same energy. It’s still there.
OLBERMANN: Did you draw inspiration from it? Was it that sort of energizing thing that we all look for in events of this nature?
DAVID CROSBY: Truthfully, it made me feel fantastic, man. I mean, it’s part of our job. Part of our job’s just to make you feel good and make you boogie. But part of our job is to be the town crier, the troubadour. And it always has been. We learned it from people like Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie and it’s been something serious for us the whole time.
And to go down there and start singing — without any amps, without any band, with nothing — a little nervous-making. And they started singing with us. And they knew the songs. And they knew why we were singing them. And you know — I’ve been down there before just to kind of cruise it and talk to people, ask them what they wanted, what they needed. And they said, “It would lift our spirits a lot if you did come down.” And truthfully, I think that’s what we did. I felt fantastic, man.
NASH: We just finished —
CROSBY: I felt like I was doing my job.
NASH: We just finished a seven-week tour of Europe. And we talked about Occupy Wall Street every, single night. And we thought, “Are these people going to understand?” First of all, there’s a language barrier, perhaps. But every time that we mentioned them, they cheered. I swear to God, they cheered.
CROSBY: They’re having demonstrations all over Europe.
OLBERMANN: Of course.
CROSBY: Big ones — bigger than the park — about the park. They — to them, it’s as if they were watching America wake up. To us, it’s — you know how a crystal starts to form in a solution, when saturation point happens? I think we’re reaching the saturation point.
OLBERMANN: Edges, then a different pattern each time, but creating something out of, seemingly, nothing there.
CROSBY: I think we’re reaching the saturation point. And there’s a magical thing, also, in that they don’t have a single figure that can be pointed at and —
CROSBY: “This guy — this guy is the troublemaker.” It’s — that baffles them, the people we’re up against — the one percent of the people who have control of most of money on the planet.
OLBERMANN: Because they can’t figure out who to buy.
NASH: That’s right.
CROSBY: The people who bought the government. This is — this is like an itch they can’t scratch. They can’t bomb it. They can’t buy it. They can’t bull —
OLBERMANN: I know what you are saying, yes.
CROSBY: Bulldoze it. It’s — it’s really pretty exciting.
OLBERMANN: Do you have a sense, also — there has been some criticism that there’s no set demands and it’s still vague — is that a part and parcel of the idea there is not one leader of the group, or even a couple of leaders, that also this is at the “Hey, it’s wrong,” stage. “We’ll figure out how to fix it. First we have to get people to acknowledge it’s wrong.”
CROSBY: That’s exactly what they are doing.
NASH: They know it’s unequal. They know that it’s wrong. They know the system is set against them. They know that it’s a system that just favors the rich people. They know this, and they are standing up and laying their bodies on the line, literally, to do it. You have been down there. You know what’s going on.
CROSBY: They have felt for a long time that their votes didn’t count, that the elections get rigged or get bought.
CROSBY: Are bought. That the guy with the biggest, you know, TV budget gets the keys to the kingdom. And they know that’s not what the Constitution meant, and it’s crystallizing down there. It’s —
NASH: It was a fabulous time.
CROSBY: It was really exciting.
NASH: It really was.
OLBERMANN: All right, so you have been there before. That was your first time?
NASH: It was my first time, yes.
OLBERMANN: There are other ones, obviously, throughout the country. If you have the opportunity to go somewhere else, would you go?
NASH: Absolutely, in a second.
CROSBY: Yeah, yeah.
NASH: We even took food. We took hand warmers. We took lots of stuff down there, too. We just didn’t take ourselves. And one of the things that was great, is that you sensed a unity against the powers that be.
NASH: Finally, the people are trying to speak out and they have, obviously, the Constitutional right to do so.
OLBERMANN: If the major problem of the last 20, 30 years — 35 years — might have just been, sort of, generalized apathy, especially among the people who have the energy to protest — as the rest of us get increasingly out of that demographic group to be energized — do you have a sense that it’s larger than the people that you saw today?
NASH: Yes. You see, this movement does not need that park. It’s way bigger than the park.
CROSBY: The park is just a spark. That’s just the beginning.
NASH: Did you know you were a poet? Did you know that?
CROSBY: It’s going to go on and keep getting bigger, because we’ve reached a point where a whole lot of the country doesn’t feel represented. Now, I have very liberal friends and very conservative friends. None of them feel like somebody in Washington is there for them.
CROSBY: Everybody I know, on both sides of the fence, feels like the government’s been bought and they don’t have a say. You know, and that’s a really critical point.
OLBERMANN: All right. You have seen so many other protests movements — and contributed to them over the years — and the idea that we are about 50 days into this, does that give you enough of an idea to assess where this stands and where this might go? How this — ranks is a terrible term to use, in terms of other protest movements — but where it stands as a development– I can’t even say “developmentally” correctly! You know what I am saying.
CROSBY: I asked them today. And they said, “Oh, we’ve got years ahead of us.” They said, “We’re in this for the long haul.” I said, “How long do you think it will be until they try to shove you out of the park?” They said, “Soon.” And they said, “It doesn’t matter,” you know? It’s not about the park. That’s just where the focal point was. When we left, we were saying, “Stay here. Stay here. Stay here.” But the truth is — this is way bigger than that. This is a whole country waking up and saying, “We were supposed to have a vote. We were supposed to have a say.”
NASH: “We were supposed to have a country.”
CROSBY: “We were supposed to have a deal where, if you worked hard, you could, you know, like — make anything you wanted out of yourself. We were supposed to be able to believe any way we wanted. Now we have bread and circuses. And we’ve got, you know –”
NASH: And we’ve got a system that, you know, just wants you to lie down and be sheep. “Shut up. Let us rob you. Buy another pair of sneakers and a soft drink. And shut up.” Uh-uh, no one is going to shut up any more. I think this movement is going to get larger and larger and larger.
CROSBY: Yeah, they really are not gonna go for that anymore.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, all right. So, what do you think happens next? What’s the next evolutionary point?
NASH: What I think is that you are going to see people starting to change things — like the banks that didn’t want to charge them more. You know, they have awakened a monster here. And quite frankly, Keith, I am totally amazed at the powers that be that they let it get this far.
OLBERMANN: And made every bad decision they could in terms of the cops and providing all those moments of conflict and anguish and everything else.
CROSBY: They completely underestimated it. But, like I said, it’s not something that they have ever dealt with before. They don’t have a focal point that they can vilify or try to get something on. They don’t have — they don’t understand.
NASH: I think it’s incredibly ironic that Bouazizi, right, from Tunisia — who immolated himself — was so outraged at the system, he set fire and immolated himself, and sparked a fire that is worldwide. It’s very ironic.
OLBERMANN: Absolutely, “the park is the spark.” I think somebody better write that down if you don’t. On the subject of that, can you indulge us and give us something quickly — a quick song that relates to this?
NASH: Yeah. We can. And this is what we did every single concert and was responding to with unbelievable fervor. And it’s a song that David wrote called “What are Their Names.” Do you want to sing it?
CROSBY: Right about there?
CROSBY: No, that’s probably too high.
BOTH: Who are the men/Who really run this land?/And why do they run it/With such a thoughtless hand?/What are their names/And on what street do they live?/I’d like to ride, ride right over/This afternoon and give/Them a piece of my mind/About peace for mankind/Peace is not/An awful lot to ask.
OLBERMANN: David Crosby and Graham Nash, as I said — an honor to have you here.
NASH: It’s our pleasure, Keith.
CROSBY: Really, we are fans.
OLBERMANN: Well, same here. So, we will take a big group-hug picture right after we sign this one out.
NASH: We’ll send one to Rumsfeld.
OLBERMANN: He’ll know who you guys are. He won’t know who I am. All right, thank you, gentlemen.
NASH: Thank you.