Synchronicity and Rock & Roll

14 Sep

Synchronicity and Rock & Roll
Handcolred Larry Norman Handcolored #1
By: Bob Gersztyn

All Photography on this blog from the beginning was performed by Bob Gersztyn, who owns the copyright, except for part 2 of the Second Century Church.

Synchronicity is a phenomenon that occurs all the time, but we are seldom aware of it taking place, except for those occasions when it explodes into our reality for a breath taking moment. Synchronicity is defined as meaningful coincidence, but when it occurs it leaves us remembering the incident decades later. The term was popularized by German psychiatrist Carl Jung whose teachings were more Eastern minded as opposed to his friend Sigmund Freud’s influence on the thinking of Western Civilization.

When a synchronistic event occurs it is often interpreted as a spiritual event. Depending on your particular religious persuasion, it could be defined as the Holy Spirit, but then if you denied that it was it would be blaspheming the Holy Spirit, and you don’t want to do that. When I was a Jesus freak back in the 1970’s, I had a musician friend in Los Angeles that was always worried that he might have blasphemed the Holy Spirit, but I told him to calm down, because if you did you would know it, but what if you didn’t?

Anyway, back to my synchronistic events. The first that I remember occurred back in November 1968, about 3 months after my discharge from the army, while I was attending Macomb County Community College on the G.I. Bill. I had tickets to the Jimi Hendrix Experience at Cobo Hall in Detroit, where he was promoting Electric Ladyland, his third album and last with bass player, Noel Redding. I took a date from MCCC with me and the seats were pretty far up and in those days there weren’t any giant screen and video cameras, so we had to look with binoculars.

Experience Hendrix #3

The opening group was Cat Mother, which was Noel Redding’s new group that he formed and was the opening act before Hendrix came on and then Redding played with him. During the intermission before Jimi came on the lights came on and it was apparent that there were vacant seats closer to the stage, a couple of sections lower. So against my protests she led us down two sections into seats that were off center stage on the left, with a perfect straight ahead unobstructed view. After we were sitting there about ten minutes the lights flashed indicating that it was time for the main act to start and people began returning to their seats and late arrivals streamed in as well.

“Excuse me sir, you’re sitting in our seats,” I heard a voice say.
Experience Hendrix #2

When I turned my head to look at the person, it was my cousin Ricky that I hadn’t seen in at least five or six years. I greeted him and we shook as my date and I got up to return to our nosebleed section seats. I never saw my cousin Ricky again after that and moved out to Los Angeles on the West Coast three years after that.

Neil Young107Neil Young111a

The next event took place in multiple episodes that all came together and were documented in February 1999. The story begins back in January 1971 when I was living back in Detroit in a storefront apartment on Seven Mile and Ryan across from Pershing High. By this time I was 1 1/2 years deep in a relationship with my future wife Kathy, when we attended Neil Young’s solo acoustic performance at Detroit’s Masonic Auditorium. It was a great show, but I was disappointed because I thought that he would play electric guitar, which I loved.

By Summer 1971 I moved to Los Angeles with Kathy, where we got married and became born again Jesus freaks. I quit listening to secular music and destroyed my collection of 300 albums. After twenty some years of life, raising seven children and finding myself in a mid-life crisis, I became a rock and roll photographer and journalist.

Neil Young108breduced

By the Summer of 1997 I was freelancing for a half dozen music magazines and was covering the H.O.R.D.E. Festival, which featured Blues Traveler. However, for a month or so they had Neil Young & Crazy Horse fill in for them. Portland, Oregon was one of the dates and I had credentials that included everything from free tickets to a photo pass and back stage passes, which I took full advantage of for the free food and drinks. I shot the three allotted songs and enjoyed the concert that I longed for in 1971. I was blown away. Neil’s performance was incredible! I loved it and two of my children were with me to witness it.

Neil Young111breduced

As a rock journalist I was always looking for new publications to submit my work to, when I stumbled across “Broken Arrow,” in 1998. It was published by the Neil Young Appreciation Society,” which was located in Great Brittan. I sent them some of my 4×6 enlargements and the next thing I knew they sent me a copy of the January 1999 issue with my photo of Neil Young from the 1997 H.O.R.D.E. Festival as the image to accompany an article in the Time Capsule section titled “Detroit 1971,” about the acoustic Neil Young concert that I first attended. The article was written by a journalist that I never met named John Miatech and my photo of Neil from the H.O.R.D.E. festival was featured. The magazine didn’t pay anything, but through it I got tickets and press passes to other Neil Young concerts and my work was featured on the front cover of “Broken Arrow” five times and the back cover four times.

Neil Young110areduced

There are other incidents that are less dramatic, but nevertheless they are significant. One time that I was going to work at the Post Office, back around the turn of the millennium I was stopped by a train on McGilchrist off Pringle in Salem. As I was listening to the radio they were playing a song by the “Bare Naked Ladies” and the DJ was offering a prize to anyone who called in to say what the connection was between this song and the next. The next song was “Lovers In A Dangerous Time,” by Bruce Cockburn. I immediately thought to myself, the answer is Canada, as a boxcar appeared with a maple leaf on it and the word Canada directly beneath it.

Neil Young112areduced

The final example that I will give is from 1998, when I was working on an article for Blues Revue magazine about Bob Dylan and the blues. At the time I regularly worked out at the YMCA in downtown Salem on Court Street, where I had a membership. I just finished working out and was going to go sit in the sauna and wanted to read something while I did. I felt guilty because I needed to finish my article on Dylan and the Blues, but couldn’t do anything until I got home where all my books and notes were. As I reached into my gym bag I fished to the bottom and pulled up an folded up newspaper section dated a year earlier in 1997. As I pulled it out, the first word that I saw in the headline was “Dylan” followed by “and the Blues.”Bob Dylan #2

Bob Dylan #1

I had all the information that I needed to finish my article and submit it by the deadline.

Spirit 1976 #1

All these examples deal with rock & roll music, that I passionately love, so I guess that is something that has to be factored in as well. So God, the Holy Spirit, Synchronicity and being one with everything are all the same during what Zen Buddhism calls living in the eternal moment. The rock band Spirit had a song on their second album called, “It’s All The Same.”


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