Happy 40th: The Stills-Young Band, Long May You Run

Tuesday, September 20, 2016
Happy 40th: The Stills-Young Band, Long May You Run

40 years ago today, Stephen Stills and Neil Young, who’d spent some time together as members of Buffalo Springfield before becoming half of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, released their only effort to date as The Stills-Young Band.

The origins of the LONG MAY YOU RUN album are tied directly to the events immediately after the infamous implosion of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young in the midst of their 1974 stadium tour. The foursome didn’t entirely go their separate ways – David Crosby and Graham Nash opted to continue working together – but Stills and Young definitely opted to follow their respective muses independently of each other, although Stills did cover two Young songs that had been intended for the planned post-tour CSN&Y album that never materialize: “New Mama” and “The Loner.” Somewhere in the early months of 1976, however, Stills and Young began chatting again, and the twosome came up with the concept of revisiting the sounds that they’d found so creatively fortuitous during their Buffalo Springfield days.

For a brief moment, it actually looked like Crosby and Nash would be joining the festivities as well, but in order to meet the recording schedule for their own album, WHISTLING DOWN THE WIRE, they had to leave the Stills-Young sessions early, at which point Stills and Young decided to just remove everything they’d contributed. This didn’t go over well with Crosby and Nash, as you might imagine, but it did seem to further solidify the bond between Stills and Young, who kicked off a tour in advance of the album’s release.

Funny thing, though: nine dates into the tour, Young decided he was done…and when Neil Young is done, he’s done, baby, which is why Stills found out about his collaborator’s departure via a telegram which offered only the following words as some approximation of an explanation:

"Dear Stephen, funny how some things that start spontaneously end that way. Eat a peach. Neil.”

Needless to say, the promotion for LONG MAY YOU RUN was somewhat less exuberant than it might otherwise have been, but the album did make it to #26 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart, and Young has since turned the title track into an iconic song in talk show history by performing it on the final episode of The Tonight Show starring Conan O’Brien.

Alas, we can’t offer you the entirety of LONG MAY YOU RUN, as the album isn’t on Spotify, nor are any of its tracks, but we can at least offer up that famed title track in the form of a cover by Emmylou Harris. Given that she’s worked with Young on numerous occasions, that’s about as good a cover as you’re likely to find.