CSN Songs Have a "Scary" Relevancy Today, Graham Nash Says

Neil Young had other plans the day of the shoot.
Neil Young had other plans the day of the shoot.
Eleanor Stills

Numerous significant events occurred in 1974: President Richard Nixon imposed the 55 mile per hour speed limit. The Six Million Dollar Man debuted on TV. The Symbionese Liberation Army kidnapped Patty Hearst, and Hank Aaron passed Babe Ruth as the all-time home run hitter. It also marked the first (and possibly best) of many Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young reunion tours.

And, to hear Graham Nash tell it, it was quite a tour.

"There was some great music played on that tour, and I wanted to show everyone what that was," he says during a current stop in North Carolina. Nash and C, S, and Y are highlighting the tour on a recently released box set containing 40 songs handpicked from those 30 concerts. Yet, because the final show was substandard, the original idea of quickly issuing a live album "got put on the back burner" for 40 years.

"Our last show was at Wembley Stadium in London, and . . . we didn't feel like we played a good show. Maybe we were too excited to be in London. Maybe we were too high. Maybe we played too fast. But I knew that even within the Wembley show, there was some fine music made [three tracks from that show made the release]. Overall, I didn't want fans of CSNY to think that's who we were."

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With the new release, fans can determine exactly who CSNY were in 1974. Once Nash began digging through the recordings, his goals were two-fold: pick out the best performances and synchronize the recordings so it all sounds like a single concert.

Nash included several rarities among the track listing, including "Love Art Blues" and "Goodbye Dick," a Neil Young song commemorating Nixon's resignation played just one time ever. Young, who last joined the group for a 2006 reunion tour, had minimal involvement with the box set and hasn't commented on the final release.

"I haven't heard one word from Neil. I'm a positive person. I'm taking that as a positive thing, because if Neil was upset with anything, I would have heard," Nash says. "He's a busy man himself. I'm taking the fact that he hasn't called me as a good sign, not a bad sign."

As CSN, Nash explains, the band continues to perform numerous songs from the box set and career, as well as new songs, something many "older" bands are reluctant to do.

"I think our fans do expect that," Nash says proudly. "And I think we do have a sense of responsibility to play the songs that made them buy tickets to come see us in the first place. But they also expect and know they can hear a song that was written this morning. That's why they love us. Believe me, we wouldn't be courageous enough to do a brand new song if we didn't feel it would touch them, that it would make contact with them, and that they would understand what we were trying to say."

Called "human songs" by Nash, including the recently composed "Burning for the Buddha," the new tracks mesh nicely with many of the classic songs that remain surprisingly -- frighteningly -- relevant today.

"That's one of the scary things about it. 'Ohio' by Neil, and my song 'Immigration Man' . . . Holy Toledo, if 'Immigration Man' isn't relevant this morning, what is? Nash exclaims. "And 'Military Madness.' Same stuff going on, different characters."

It isn't exactly 1974 again, but at a CSN concert, musically, it should be pretty darn close.

Crosby, Stills, & Nash are scheduled to perform Friday, September 26, at Mesa Arts Center.

Find any show in Metro Phoenix via our extensive online concert calendar.

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