Crosby, Stills & Nash's debut album was released on May 29, 1969.
The connection between the members of this wonderful trio begins in late 1967 when David Crosby is fired from "The Byrds" due to disagreements. A few months later, in early 1968, "Buffalo Springfield" starring, among others, Guitarist Stephen Stills, falls apart. Graham Nash, was a member of "The Hollies" and met Crosby during the Birds' tour in England.
In July 1968, during a private party held at the home of Joni Mitchell (Stills still insists it was at Mama Cass's house), Crosby and Stills played a new song that Stills wrote after the breakup of his band. Nash joined them in singing with a third harmony, and right at that moment, the three realized that there was an amazing vocal combination between them, that could not be ignored. The crazy vocal chemistry and the special connection between the three, made Nash leave "The Hollies" and join the emerging "supergroup".
The "big bang" created by this wonderful trio (which will later also become a quartet with the addition of Neil Young), gave birth to a unique "original" music, a combination of folk, rock, country, a bit of psychedelia, but more than any, a combination of vocal harmonies that no one heard before.
(Photo: Henry Diltz)
In terms of writing, there is a fairly balanced distribution in the number of songs each of the three members contributed to the album. As for playing, Stills took the lead and played most of the instruments on the album, guitar, bass, keyboards, and vocals, with Crosby and Nash adding acoustic guitars and of course the vocals, while Dallas Taylor was hired to play the drums.
The album opens up with the song "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes", and it is indeed a real "suite", a musical piece of more than 7 minutes, with several transitions, rhythm changes, and motifs typical of progressive rock. Stills wrote the song about his ex-girlfriend, folk singer Judy Collins. The song is built on acoustic rhythms and harmonies throughout all four parts. The first part, is in a classic pop style. The second, slower part introduces the listener, for the first time, to the triple vocal harmony that will become the hallmark of the trio, and it ends with a short acoustic solo by Stills. Unique percussion features the third part of the suite, with an alert drum beat that accompanies us to the last part that ends with a mini climax that includes a few words in Spanish and the famous "doo-doo-doo-da-doo".
The next track on the album, "Marrakesh Express," is a short, sweet pop song written by Nash while he was still in "The Hollies", but was rejected by the band. The song features a memorable Stephen Stills guitar line that hovers over the song throughout and sounds just like a sitar.
The third track "Guinnevere" is Crosby's first contribution to the album. A soft and caressing song in a somewhat melancholy atmosphere, written about Queen Guinevere and featuring odd time signatures and uncharacteristic guitar directions.
The first side of the album is sealed with two light-hearted songs: the Stills' "You Don't Have to Cry", influenced by country music and featuring the famous three-vocal harmony and steel-pedal playing, and the Nash's "Pre-Road Downs" featuring Funky bass and a special and cool guitar-pedal effect.
The other side of the vinyl opens up with "Wooden Ships", an amazing song whose writing began with a jam by Crosby, Stills, and Paul Kantner, who co-wrote the song and also performed a version of it with his band "Jefferson Airplane" on their album "Volunteers". The song was written about Crosby's boat that also composed it and it tells of survivors in a post-apocalyptic world when most of the world's population was destroyed.
The next track "Lady of the Island" is a pure folk song with a "Simon and Garfunkel" scent. It is all Graham Nash, but it features a bit of stills harmonies.
Immediately after that comes one of the most beautiful songs on the album written by Stills "Helplessly Hoping" in which the famous trio-vocal harmony reaches its climax. !!
"Long Time Gone" is a classic sixties pop-rock-blues song written by Crosby on the night Bobby Kennedy was murdered. The song features funky bass and stills electric guitar lines that accompany all the verses.
The album was signed with "49 Bye-Byes", a waltz-rock song divided into several parts, a kind of mini-suite led by the sounds of a fragmented organ.
(Photo: Henry Diltz)
CSN's debut album was a huge success. The trio later became the leader of the protest against the Vietnam War until it was nicknamed the "Voice of the Generation". About three months after the album's release, the band performed at the legendary Woodstock Festival. It was only their second appearance ever, and yet it was a marvelous performance. Neil Young will take the stage and join the trio in the second and more "electric" part of the show, and "Electricity" was indeed there, because later in 1969 Neil Young joined the trio as a full member and expanded it into a quartet. At the beginning of the new decade, the quartet will release the masterpiece album "Déjà Vu".