“Dear Stephen [Stills],” Neil Young wrote in 1971. “Funny how things work out sometimes. Eat a peach. Neil.” The letter was his economical way of letting his band, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, of knowing that he was not only quitting the band, but jumping bail in the middle of a national stadium tour.

Well, things sure do turn out funny sometimes, because twenty years later Young is back with Crosby, Stills and Nash, in the middle of another national arena tour next stop, Detroit. Call it guilt, greed or just an urge to show the world what they”ve really got now that they have matured, but Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young still shine, playing songs from their 1999 record, Looking Forward, as well as spitting out old favorites.

The nearly spur of the moment tour was Young”s idea, who cited the aftermath of Sept. 11 as a time that required catharsis through music, both for him and the audience. After all, it”s 2002 and Young has landed himself smack-dab in the middle of cultural relevance once again, with the release of one song called “Let”s Roll,” the most immediate and heart-stopping piece of genuine inspiration to come out of the entire post-Sept. 11 cultural rubble pile. Even the irreverent way it was released pointed to the fact that it is a new time rumor has it that Young mailed the song in a plain package to only to non-corporate radio stations, containing only a burned CD with the words “Let”s Roll Neil Young” scrawled across it with a Sharpie.

Never since “Ohio” CSNY”s knock-down, drag-out response to the shooting of four students at Kent State University have Young and Co. so successfully and decisively welded their social and artistic consciousness with the national pulse anguished, confused, messy and pissed off as it may be.

In fact, notably Young and Stills have an even longer track record of spitting out modern-day protest songs that you can dance you going all the way back to Buffalo Springfield”s 1966 hit “For What It”s Worth.” With the the simplest hook in pop history (two notes on a single string extended for four counts each) and it”s chorus of “stop children / what”s that sound? / Ev”rybody look what”s going down,” today those mere two notes conjure the memory of the late “60s and the civil unrest and sense of boundless idealism that defined it.

The whole band crowded around one mic, backed by frequent Young collaborators Booker T and the MGs. Over two decades of material. Over two decades of a rocky friendship that can”t seem to stay apart for too long. It could end in disaster, or it could bring new heights. Either way, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young will be damned if they don”t at least try.

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