Richie Havens

I loved (love) Richie Havens’ music even before his famous WOODSTOCK appearance. The sixties was the best time in American music because music seemed to have a purpose for the first time. Dylan, Country Joe, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and others all had a response to the various social upheavals, the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights movement, but none better than Richie Havens. I was working on a documentary for the LBJ administration that had spilled over to Nixon’s, not a good thing. It was about the problems of migrant workers and their exploitation, a problem that hasn’t been solved to this day. As I edited the MOS (silent) sequences, I listened to Havens a great deal, then it came to me that his music was appropriate to establish a mood for the piece that would elevate it, especially for his cover of Dylan’s MAGGIE’S FARM. At the time, I had a partner, Rift Fournier, that was one of the last polio victims in America and was wheelchair bound, a plight that he used to his advantage. We went to the TROUBADOR to see Havens and ask him about using the music. We spoke with him at a break and after hearing the idea we shook hands and that was that. Dylan also consented (by phone).

That kind of grace doesn’t exist any more.