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Last night I had the great fortune of spending the evening at The City Winery in New York city. The last place that I would have expected myself, exactly one week after my Father went to the Ancestors.
But it was a memorial service, a gathering of people who had come to pay their respects, hold his guitar and share their condolences with each other and us, his family.

I hugged loved ones, some I hadn’t seen in what felt like lifetimes, and “strangers” who were not strangers, but will be “Friends Forever” bound by our love of a man who made sure to share real love with everyone he met.

They say that when people die, they become our angels, adding wings to a love once tethered by the limitations of a body. But in this case, I feel as though everyone who loves him is now a feather in the wings

Again, I am amazed by the tangible reality of energy in its purest form. Right now, as, you/we, the world mourns the loss of Richie Havens, the flavors are available, and I ask myself, do I want to taste the pain of loss or experience the love? The lesson, once again, reveals itself to me to be about choice. It is a reoccurring lesson for me, and my Father is showing me now… Again, that simple truth. You can live anything you want, because it is all available.

I choose, now, to feel the massive outpouring of love that is available. With that love, I am strengthened and can give back to those who need it as we get through this time of Letting Go.

A beautiful cycle.

Thank you, every one of you who ever loved him, for revealing to me, even more, the strength of my father’s love. For reminding me that there is nowhere that I have to go, that I don’t have to reach farther than inside my own heart for comfort, because you are all there.

I understood again last night, when everyone had gone, why he gave so much. Because you all gave him just as much as he gave you. It was a very fair trade indeed.

I know these days ahead will not be easy, the sadness comes in waves. But after last night, I have even more strength and it is because I know where to reach for it.

Please…. Tell me stories.

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7 thoughts on “For the love of Freedom

  1. I first met Richie in Springfield Mass of all places. We played a place called The Pesky Sarpent in 1964. I was a John Hammond and Fred Neil clone born and raised in Greenwhich Village. I was 4 years younger then those trail blazers and Richie encouraged me that night. I later met him doing the Woodstock festival in 1967 and 68. He had moved to East 3rd street ground level across the street from Slugs where I worked part time, so I visited him there several times. Being there last night brings back the memories of those early years and how we all encouraged each other to build an artistic fire that still burns today.

  2. Hi Rachel, XXX, your old friend Kathleen, Peter Pan Farm days…but once upon a time, in the early 60’s, when I was 16 years old, I worked as a waitress on Macdougal st.nyc your dad was playing at the Basement cafe. He was beautiful,, A beautiful sweet smile… and in those days after the music was played a hat was passed around. Of course you were just a twinkle in his eye then!

  3. I first met Ritchie at a small airport on the west coast… I went right up to him arms open as his were and we hugged like old friends… That is the kind of man he was… He seemed to treat everyone like an old friend…. very special indeed…. After becoming friends with you I was able to get to know him better on one or two occasions.. always the same bright light and smile pouring forth love and positive energy… You possess the same light Rach, I feel blessed to call you dear friend.

  4. The Night Owl Cafe on W. 3rd St in Greenwich Village hosted a lot of musicians in the ’60s, some not-yet famous, some known only to other musicians, some who went on to money and fame. .
    I heard them all, but the first time Richie played/sang there, I knew he was someone special.

    From that first chord at the Night Owl to the last chord at the Towne Crier Cafe a couple of years ago and many times in between, Richie freely gave out his soul. A lot of musicians write songs and sometimes come up with love and truth, but Richie is one of very few who sang out that love and truth. His rare integrity as a artist came from his integrity as a person. I count myself lucky to have heard him but even more privileged just to know him as a person. If he had not been a musician, he would have found another way to spread his message.

    One measure of a man is the gap he leaves behind, but a better measure is the effect he had people whose lives he touched. He touched many of us and we’re all the better for it.
    From what I’ve seen, you are yourself a monument to him.. Bless you.
    .

  5. I was 17 or 18, waiting tables at the Cafe Wha and the Why Not on McDougal Street in the Village in 1962-3. Richie was playing these basket houses. After the shows were over, we walked cross town to hang at his crib on Fourth between C & D where he played all night and his “brothers” Dino and Natgoa drumming on the bongos. Two little girl babies occassionally toddled about if we hung out into daylight hours. That smoke-filled pad overflowed with LOVE in its purest form. It radiated from Richie’s enormous hands on his guitar and shined out through his broken-toothed grin. His love for playing and singing was virally contagious!

    We lost touch for decades. I followed his career from afar in utter awe.

    When we met again at a show at the State Theater in New Brunswick, NJ – in the late 80s early 90s? – it was like no time had passed at all. He greeted me with open arms noting that my teenaged son was the spitting image of me at his age!

    I saw him again several times over the years after that as he generously performed at fundraisers throughout NJ. I learned that he was a doting grandpa and living in NJ. he confirmed that it WAS him on the AmTrack commercials! I KNEW it! No one else could duplicate his voice.

    I am so very sorry that I was unable to be there on Monday. I eagerly await word of a memorial concert at Bethel Arts Center. What do you hear about that??? I hope it comes to fruition. I will be there…and so will He. Ashes to ashes on Yasgurs Farm once again.

    He’s jammin’ with Janis and Jimi!

  6. It was 77′ or 78′, on my last day at my first job at Cinema 5 on Madison Avenue in NYC. I was so happy that I was free from the daily drudgery of commuting to the city from Long Island and I was still young enough to not take the job seriously anyway. I felt so relaxed that day that I wore sneakers in the city for the first time and probably against work’s dress code. As I left 555 Madison for the last time, I crossed the street and walked up the west side of Madison Avenue. I was walking no more than a few minutes when I looked up and ahead and saw the unmistakable and unforgettable figure of Richie Havens walking my way. I knew it was him instantly and his beautiful smiling eyes met mine, but I was too shy to ever approach him, even for just a quick “hello”. I felt free and now I saw the face of freedom standing before me. We passed each other and I practically skipped all the way home. Very moved by his sudden passing. I always loved the essence of your father, even beyond his music, if that is possible. He gave our spirit its wings and now he is blessed with a set of his own. Been thinking about him all week and will remember him for the rest of this life. Look for signs, he will come through. Faith and God Bless. Love and Peace to Richie, and “Hello”.

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