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In a New York State of Mind: Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals, Pearl Jam
Madison Square Garden, New York City -- September 11, 1998

By: Danielle Woodrich
Photos: Jennifer Jablonski and LeAnn Mercer

Friday maze slippery haze in the middle of the city
The streets were everything more than they seem,
little thanks to the mayor and many to a waking North Chelsea dream.
You know, the place where the spots are too deep to come clean.
So when the band came down to play the Garden of stone,
they rightfully didn't dare come alone.
It was under the protection of an unlikely Superman,
capelessly committing from a melodious trance,
innocent crimes of the mind, and nothing was premeditated this time.
From the top of the watchtower and illegally pure,
electrifying: the feeling of Jah's plugged in power.
Voodoo spells raining macrorythmic zen,
soaking the urban jury was thundercloud Ben.
Across his knees
the garden walls away rolled,
face up to the light that turned his 'fro all to gold.
Under gavels, washing weather, hands coming together,
found guilty as charged for every glowing swirling sin,
was prisoner 10-427, one Harper, Ben.
And the band whose name was glittering in tall letters outside
knew that in the game they came to play there was no need to hide.
It was finally safe to seek all around;
everyone was on the same team no matter from what town
And we were all looking for,
something longly longed for.
But contrary to shaking signs and fists,
it wasn't something more;
it really was this:
a time of strummed bliss,
an immortal first and last kiss,
the ones in between,
and a few that we missed.
Incidently what Ed really said, which many seemed to have dismissed,
about the campaign to play 'Breath' and the cheap xeroxed diss
was "Fuck you, you bitch, you ungrateful whore.
Fuck you, you bitch.
You always want more"
You chair-standing boobshakers, you shrill Eddie-screamers,
you beer-swilling hair flailers, you hinting herd sign wavers,
playing the songs was the lesson,
you just refused to learn it.
You cheered right along as if you had earned it.
The rest knew better, they held no orders in their hands.
They knew the silence owed indifference;
they knew the scream bleed rage wasteland.
They saw things by the moon so much clearer, Hudson Bay held up a mirror.
They were better men, they were daughters,
they had habits they'd carried farther.
They were faithful they were flying they rose above the whining.
Yeah, so what, if they were here and a mess of raw released distress,
in love, alive, and utterly unkempt.
They came in fast trains and many cars, they were a different mankind.
They weren't taking - they were exchanging,
They were shaking and they weren't faking.
They gave it up to the flow, even and low.
They splashed in Listerine and Ovaltine,
and dragged their sad feet 'cross the gray concrete knoll,
leaving clean chocolate footsteps
down the ramps and far out into the road,
spelling out something they thought you should know:
W e b e l i e v e i n w h a t y o u d o,
t h a n k s f o r t h e s h o w.
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