Richie Havens — “For Haven’s Sake”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — November 4, 2022


628) Richie Havens — “For Haven’s Sake”

A haunting, meditative and unforgettable song, released shortly before Havens made history at Woodstock. Carl Bookstein says it is “a melancholy blues, and beautiful.” ( and Hope Silverman calls it:

Sad, desperate and determined . . . a slow burning 7 minute epic composed by Richie and a true highlight from the . . . Richard P. Havens 1983 album. The instrumentation thickens as the song evolves and culminates in a dizzying coda where the honeyed buzz of the Havens voice, stray hand claps and undulating acoustic guitar intertwine in heart-stoppingly amazing fashion.

They’re both right!

William Ruhlmann notes that “Havens’ career benefited enormously from his appearance at the Woodstock festival in 1969 and his subsequent featured role in the movie and album made from the concert in 1970.” ( Havens’ reaction to flying to Woodstock by helicopter was “It was awesome, like double Times Square on New Year’s Eve in perfect daylight with no walls or buildings to hold people in place.” (

Havens also recalled that:

My fondest memory was realizing that I was seeing something I never thought I’d ever see in my lifetime – an assemblage of such numbers of people who had the same spirit and consciousness. And believe me, you wouldn’t want to be in a place with that many people if they weren’t like-minded! It was the first expression of the first global-minded generation born on the planet.

As to 1983, David Browne calls it an “ambitious blues-folk-psychedelic double LP” ( and Bookstein tells us that “[i]ts title references the George Orwell novel ‘1984’, and a darkness that Richie Havens saw in the air at that time.”

Kris Needs adds that:

When Richie Havens was making his third album it appears as if George Orwell had really got under his skin. He’d become filled with a dread, “as if the next year was going to be 1984.” He decided to call the record 1983 and make it a double album that would serve as a monument for the times; mixing eloquent, politically conscious statements with rich soul covers that made the originals his own, including four Beatles songs.

Partly recorded at a July ’68 Santa Monica concert, 1983 captured each facet of Havens’ quiet but towering strength and liberated stage magic, driven by his distinctive open-tuned guitar scrabble on originals including . . . For Haven’s Sake . . . .

1983 remains a consummate document of the irrepressible spirit that riveted half a million at Woodstock four months after its release.

As to Havens, David Browne tells us:

From the beginning, when he played Village folk clubs in the mid-Sixties, Havens stood out due to more than just his imposing height (he was six-and-a-half feet tall) and his ethnicity (African-American in a largely white folk scene). He played his acoustic guitar with an open tuning and in a fervent, rhythmic style, and he sang in a sonorous, gravel-road voice that connected folk, blues and gospel.

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