If you have read my blog for most of its run, by now, you know I have an affinity for tight harmony vocals, and in the world of rock and roll music, there are few more distinctive harmony vocals than the trio of David Crosby, Stephen Stills, and Graham Nash, particularly the high harmony vocal from David Crosby. Today we listen to their debut album, “Crosby, Stills & Nash”, which is the 161st rated album on Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
Each of these three came from a previously successful act. David Crosby hailed from the previously discussed “The Byrds”, Graham Nash previously appeared in “The Hollies”, and Stephen Stills came from “Buffalo Springfield”, who gave us one of the 1960s most identifiable songs, “For What It’s Worth”, a major favorite of mine. This album also opens with Stephen Stills’ ode to his beautiful and Colorado raised former girlfriend Judy Collins. This song remains the most well-known on this album, and it is pure CS&N. Next comes the other single from the album, “Marrakesh Express”, featuring Graham Nash on lead. Not released as a single, Stephen Stills also gave us the beautiful “Helplessly Hoping” on side two. Like many acts with multiple singers and songwriters, it appears that in most cases, whoever wrote the song usually assumed lead vocals on the song. Two other favorites of mine are more upbeat, “Pre-Road Downs” by Nash, and “Wooden Ships” by David Crosby, probably the most funky-jam song on the album, a style of which is not always associated with Crosby, Stills and Nash.
A few of the songs fall back for me, but in general, it is easy for me to see why this collection of talent made such an impact in the months leading up to the Woodstock Music Festival, where they were presented to a larger audience publicly for the first time. Always socially conscious and very much in step with the time, Crosby, Stills and Nash were one of the earliest formations of what would ultimately be referred to as a “super-group”. I still remain hopeful I can one day catch them in concert before their time closes, which isn’t an easy ask given their advancing age and compounded mutual animosity within the group that has built up over the years.