Sunday, July 13, 2014

CSNY 1974 – Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young

I'm a lot like you
I need someone to love me
the whole day through
Ah, one look in my eyes
and you can tell that's true.
Neil Young, singer, song writer, from the song "Old Man"

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young are an interesting and amazing group of individual musicians and artists. I have been listening to their new CD simply titled CSNY 1974. It captures their stadium tour in the middle of that year.

The CD is a wonderful collection of their songs that many already have and have heard myriad times over the decades. This compilation breathes new life into the songs because you can hear the enthusiasm of the musicians and the power of their lyrics. I was reading through the 186-page mini book that is included in the three CD package that also features a bonus DVD of one of their shows.

What I didn’t know is they were pegged with the reputation as the American Beatles. That is a weighty title to live up to. When you consider they took off just as The Beatles disbanded, they may have reached that lofty stage from time to time. Musically CSN&Y seems more technically skilled than the Fab Four were and their intricate vocal harmonies equaled and even surpassed the Liverpool lads. Yet without The Beatles there probably would not have been CSNY. Some of their songs are certainly anthems of the times, timeless, and inspirational. Individually and collectively they have outwardly embraced a social consciousness “Love The One You’re With,” “Teach Your Children,” “Ohio,” “Long Time Gone,” “Wooden Ships,” and many others. They have said themselves that egos and drugs may have limited their time together. Still, individually they also assembled an impressive list of songs, not unlike John, Paul, George, & Ringo individually.

The CD follows the concert format with the first CD called The First Set, which includes “Love the One You’re With,” “Wooden Ships,” “Immigration Man,” “Helpless,” “Carry Me,” “Johnny’s Garden,” “Traces,” “Grave Concern,” “On The Beach,” “Black Queen,” and “Almost Cut My Hair.” This set is a raucous and high energy. “Black Queen” Stephen Stills’ song brings to mind Jimi Hendrix and the CD closes with the bluesy “Almost Cut My Hair.”

The second CD is mellow and showcases their harmonies. Songs on this CD include “Change Partners,” “The Lee Shore,” “Only Love Can Break Your Heart,” “Our House,” “Fieldworker,” “Guinevere,” “Time After Time,” “Prison Song,” “Long May You Run,” “Goodbye Dick” (a short ditty by Young regarding President Nixon resigning just before they went on stage), “Mellow My Mind,” “Old Man,” “Word Game,” “Myth of Sisyphus,” “Blackbird,” “Love Art Blues,” “Hawaiian Sunrise,” “Teach Your Children,” “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.” This version of “Old Man” with the harmonies of Stills, Nash, and Crosby has deeper and fuller feel, same with “Blackbird.”  

The third CD features “Déjà Vu,” “My Angel,” “Pre-Road Downs,” “Don’t Be Denied,” “Revolution Blues,” “Military Madness,” “Long Time Gone,” “Pushed It Over The End,” “Chicago,” and “Ohio.”

The guys are still putting out music. My recent favorite is David Crosby’s “Croz.” His music just lays it out there. His song “Time I Have” includes the lyrics:

People do so many things that make me mad but
Angry isn’t how I want to spend what time I have
Cognitive dissonance they call it
I wonder just how small it
Could be made to be
In me

There so much disturbing shortsighted shit 
We must be able to do better than just live with it
I’m looking to find some peace within me to embrace
To encourage that smile to find my face
sometimes I’m

These guys collectively and individually are artists and poets who teach and delight.