Great Benefit, Bad Night for Publicity
Paul McCartney in New York. Michael Jackson in Washington. Alan Jackson, Martina McBride, George Strait, Hank Williams Jr., among other country luminaries in Nashville. All were doing benefits for charities related to the events of Sept. 11. So it was easy to overlook Neil Young's two-day, star-studded benefit for the Bridgestone School, which specializes in education for children with severe speech and physical limitations. According the San Francisco Chronicle, the slogan for the 15th annual fund-raiser, which took place at the Shoreline Auditorium on Saturday and Sunday, was "Free Speech." If anyone doubted the atmosphere would be different from all the other benefits, Neil Young opened the show with the defiant antiwar anthem "Blowin' in the Wind" by Bob Dylan. The defiance continued all night as Billy Idol covered Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth," and Pearl Jam sang John Lennon's "Give" with a special emphasis on "neurotic, psychotic, pigheaded politicians." Other performers included R.E.M. (giving a whole new meaning to "Losing My Religion"), Ben Harper, Dave Matthews and Jill Sobule. Young debuted a song called "Mideast Vacation" ("You'll never be a hero/Stop sniffin' that smokin' gun") and then led the group finale, "Imagine" by John Lennon. "It's hard to know what song to play these days," Young remarked from the stage. "Every song sounds different. Every word means something different."
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