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CSN & Sometimes Y

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Already a concert promoter's worst nightmare, the group decided to give equal time to its two anonymous sidemen. CSN&Y then became -- drum roll, please -- Crosby, Stills, Nash, Young, Taylor and Reeves! If that wasn't enough, each member insisted on having a different kind of international cuisine backstage. The band's rider also stipulated that each stage CSN&Y played on during its 1970 tour have a Persian carpet for the group to stand on. If the rug wasn't centered on the stage, the band invariably threw a shit fit. This troublesome personality trait led the stage crew at the Fillmore East to dub these prima donnas "the Supremes" for the duration of their engagement. Those shows provided CSN&Y with a shaky double-live album, Four Way Street. To issue this bum-notes-and-all record without any sweetening took a lot of balls -- eight of them, to be precise. It's no surprise that overdubs never happened -- when you have four guys playing guitars at the same time, no one's going to admit it's his 12-string that's outta tune. Maybe it was the rug's fault.

Long May You Run -- OUT!

The postponed CSN&Y follow-up to Deja Vu scheduled for a 1974 release and tour never materializes. The official blame for its collapse is the "More Me! More Me!" method of song selection. Crosby's autobiography corroborated this when he wrote that "an album with nothing but Stills' songs doesn't have enough Stills songs to please Stephen." Stills' method for getting his way in the studio is to wait until everyone leaves so he can do things his way! The infighting leaves Crosby and Nash to team up for a couple of years, with Nash's vocals getting gruffer while his mustache got progressively smaller.

Stills is left to make forgettable solo albums with album covers that look as if he's being de-brained by his guitar. Like an abused spouse who believes her Cro-Magnon mate can change, Stills keeps taking Young back, allowing him opportunity after opportunity to screw him over. The two team up for the Long May You Run album and tour, which doesn't run very long at all. Neil, en route to a gig, instructs his driver to turn the car in the opposite direction of the stadium and keep going. He leaves Stills a confounding note: "Funny how things that start out spontaneous end the same way. Eat a peach. Love Neil." Worse yet for group harmony was the fact that Young and Stills erased Crosby and Nash's backing vocals from the original Long May You Run tracks. That stunt was good for a two-year silent treatment.

By 1977, humbled by the lack of interest in their solo careers, CS&N (and their accountants) decided the time was right to work again. During this period, Nash awakened the rock community to the Atomic Energy Commission's habit of dumping hazardous nuclear waste off the coasts of California and Maine, as well as the danger this posed to ocean life. Eventually, most people came to see Nash as a liberal, alarmist lunatic after his incessant yapping about "mutant sponges" in the 1980 No Nukes film.

Stills Crazy After All These Beers!

Just how far removed from the new generation of rockers Stills had become is clearly illustrated when he and Bonnie Bramlett get into a barroom brawl with Elvis Costello in 1979. When Bramlett implied the English pop star stole his entire act from Americans, Costello reminded them that they were still colonists from the mother country. The few Stills punches that connected that night constitute his last contact with modern music. Later that year, Stills decided to throw one of his backstage temper tantrums while 60 Minutes' cameras were there to document the group's 10 "harmonious" years together.

A Freebaser in Dallas!

But the band had an even bigger problem than New Wave music -- Crosby's incessant freebasing! Nash, wanting to scare Crosby straight, teamed up with Stills to kick Crosby out of the band. This "tough love" tactic backfired when Atlantic Records refused to finance a Stills & Nash album sans Crosby. Vindicated, Crosby returned to the studio with his Gilbert chemistry set and proceeded to freebase throughout the entire sessions. Nice going, Nash!

Eventually, the police car in Crosby's rearview mirror was closer than it appeared, and he went directly to jail, where he would have no trouble smuggling in carbohydrates.

Meanwhile, Neil Young (whose career never needed a CSN & sometimes Y reunion to prop it up) made good on a jailhouse promise he'd made to Crosby to produce a CSN&Y reunion album if he cleaned up his act. Young, however, was already busy hoarding material for his own "comeback" effort Freedom. He eventually contributed four of the worst songs of his entire catalogue to the ill-fated American Dream album, something the other three had no trouble matching.

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Serene Dominic
Contact: Serene Dominic