Music Memories, Insights and Analysis

July 1, 2017
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Crosby, Stills & Nash (1969)

Crosby, Stills & Nash Sometimes the stars just line up right and bring a flash of inspiration and chemistry that result in something special, something unexpected and magical. Crosby, Stills & Nash was one of the first true supergroups -- bringing together three mucisians who already had incredible success in the music industry. And while maybe it wasn't really the stars in special alignment, there was something in the mix of the times, the incredible musical talent and an alert and insightful Mama Cass that brought together one of the most loved and enduring musical acts of the past 50 years.

David Crosby was in The Byrds with Jim/Roger McGuinn, Gene Clark, Chris Hillman and Michael Clarke where he helped pioneer the genre of folk rock. Their cover of Bob Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man" was a number one hit and one of the first and certainly most successful early blendings of folk and rock.

Stephen Stills was a member of the Buffalo Springfield with Richie Furay, Neil Young, Dewey Martin, Bruce Palmer and Jim Messina. Their socially conscious top 10 hit song "For What It's Worth (Stop, Hey What's That Sound)," written by Stephen Stills, became one of the key protest songs of the 1960s.

Graham Nash was a founding member of the British invasion band The Hollies, with Allan Clarke, Tony Hicks and others. The Hollies had more success in the U.K., but did break through in the U.S. with songs such as "Bus Stop" (written by future 10cc frontman Graham Gouldman) and "Carrie Anne" (written by Clarke, Nash and Hicks).

All three bands were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: The Byrds in 1991, Buffalo Springfield in 1997 and The Hollies in 2010.

Of course, past success is not always an indicator of future triumphs. The story is that Mama Cass (Cass Elliot of The Mamas & the Papas) was instrumental in bringing David Crosby, Graham Nash and Stephen Stills together. Somehow, she instinctively knew that their voices and music would blend well together. Of course, The Mamas & The Papas (who started out as Barry McGuire's backup singers) were one of the best vocal groups of all time, so she had plenty of experience knowing what it took for a great vocal blend.

Crosby, Stills & Nash 2The self-titled debut album by Crosby, Stills & Nash was released on May 29, 1969 on Atlantic Records. The blend of rock, folk, pop, country, blues and even jazz was as sharp and distinctive as their incredible three part harmonies, which becaume their signature.

The original vinyl LP was released in a gatefold sleeve, similar to The Beatles' Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, with photos by esteemed classic rock photographer Henry Diltz. Diltz and the band often tell the story of how the cover photo was taken days before they decided on the title of the band. Being that the photo shows the trio in the wrong order (Nash, Stills & Crosby), they went back to the old abandoned house in Santa Monica where the photo had been shot to re-shoot it with the guys in the right order. . . but when they got there, the house had been levelled.

The album's lead-off track, "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes," is an epic love song written by Stephen Stills in tribute to girlfriend Judy Collins. The song is one of the greatest accomplishments of Still's long and storied career and the fresh harmonies of the trio on this track are among the most remarkable in the annuls of classic rock. "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" and "Marrakesh Express" were the album's top 40 hits.

David Crosby's "Guinnevere" reamins one of the most beautiful love songs of all time. The song compares a woman to Queen Guinevere of legend. Crosby has been quoted as saying that the song was not written for a single women, but for a composite of several different women.

"Wooden Ships" is a song written by David Crosby and Stephen Stills with the help of Paul Kantner (of Jefferson Airplane). It was written and composed on David Crosby's boat, The Mayan. Also recorded by Jefferson Airplane, the song, written at the height of the Veitnam War, is one of the classic anti-war anthems of the decade.

Crosby, Stills & Nash was the cornerstone of the music in what would become known as the California singer-songwriter scene of the early 1970s, featuring such artists as Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Joni Mitchell (a transplant from Canada), Jackson Browne, America, Linda Ronstadt, Eagles, J.D. Souther, Karla Bonoff, Warren Zevon, Andrew Gold and Wendy Waldman among others.

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Past Blogs:

July 1, 2017 - Crosby, Stills & Nash

June 1, 2017 - The Beatles: Sgt. Pepper

Complete Blog History

Recent and Related Releases:

Crosby, Stills & Nash
(1st Album, Expanded and Remastered)

CSNY 1974 (3 CD + DVD) Box set

CSN: Greatest Hits

CSN 2012 (Blu-ray video)

Crosby-Nash: In Concert (2011 DVD)

Legends of the Canyon (DVD)

Recommended Reading:

Canyon of Dreams: The Magic and the Music of Laurel Canyon by Harvey Kubernik
Foreward by Ray Manzarek; Afterward by Lou Adler

California Rock, California Sound by Anthony Fawcett
Photographs by Henry Diltz

Crosby, Stills & Nash: The Biography by Dave Zimmer
Photographs by Henry Diltz

Wild Tales: A Rock & Roll Life by Graham Nash

Long Time Gone by David Crosby

Stephen Stills Change Partners by David Roberts

Recommended Blogs:

DATAMUSICATA by James Lee Stanley
Tips, hints, clues and info for the artist in us all

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