Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Time machine: May 29th, 1969

Crosby, Stills and Nash - Crosby, Stills and Nash
(Atlantic, 1969)


Some albums are destined to be classics, the debut by the trio Crosby, Stills and Nash certainly was one of them. Released forty years ago it still sound as fresh as ever. One of the first real supergroups and for many the sound and voices of a generation that hoped for a better world. The generation later described as the Woodstock-generation. Little did they know that the seventies would be radically different from the hopes and new thoughts of the late sixties. Nevertheless this album stands as a testament of those times, not only for those who were there but also for all the younger generations that still pick up this classic.


The album opens with the Stephen Stills penned epic "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes". A song that is built up by different segments. Stills recalls that these segments "poured out over several months and filled several notebooks.." and then got the idea to join all these segments into one long suite. The result was the classic album opener. The song was inspired by Stills' muse at the time, the folksinger Judy Collins.

Next up is one of my all time favourite feelgood songs. Graham Nash's "Marrakesh Express" was in fact written for his band at the time, the Hollies. They woudn't record it and that was the start of Nash's departure from the band. He left the Hollies in 1968, moved to Laurel Canyon in L.A., fell in with David Crosby and Stephen Stills and well, shall we call it a match made in heaven? The song was written after Nash had been on a train between Casablanca and Marrakesh back in 1966.

The third song was written by David Crosby. After being kicked out of the Byrds back in 1967/68 he focused all of his time on beeing the total scenester in the L.A.-scene. He knew everyone worth knowing and always kept an open house up in Laurel Canyon, but he also wrote songs. Excellent jazzy-folk songs in strange time signatures and melodies. One of his greatest is this one, "Guinnevere". The song is rumoured to be about both his girlfriend at the time, Christine Hinton and the singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell.

Talking of Joni Mitchell, she is also the inspiration behind the Graham Nash song "Our House". A song that describes the day to day life for the couple in love in their house in Laurel Canyon. This was also one of the biggest hits the group ever had. That song can be found on the album Deja Vu, recorded by the then Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. More about that album some other time.

The debut of Crosby, Stills and Nash is an album full of gems and classic songs. Fantastic harmonies unparalleled by anyone. If you have any doubts about that just go listen to "Helplessly Hoping", "You Don't Have to Cry" or the already mentioned "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes".

A true classic, every home should have at least one copy of this album.


"Helplessly Hoping" and "Long Time Gone" live from Woodstock, 1969:

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