This Day in 1969: CSN and sometimes Y

Monday, July 24, 2017
This Day in 1969: CSN and sometimes Y

48 years ago today, Neil Young officially joined forces with David Crosby, Stephen Stills, and Graham Nash, creating a sporadic foursome that made some of the most memorable music of the ‘60s, ‘70s, and beyond.

At the time, Crosby, Stills, and Nash had already released their debut LP and found considerable success with their collaboration, thanks both to their musical and vocal talent and the star power that comes from members of Buffalo Springfield, The Byrds, and The Hollies doing an album together. Meanwhile, Young – who’d been a member of Buffalo Springfield alongside Stills – had ventured into a solo career. So why did either side of this equation decide to combine their efforts to create a four-letter acronym instead of one with a mere three letters?

“Playing with Stephen is special, David is an excellent rhythm guitarist, and Graham sings so great… Shit, I don’t have to tell anybody these guys are phenomenal,” Young told Rolling Stone. “I knew it would be fun. I didn’t have to be out front. I could lay back. I didn’t have to be me all the time.”

Okay, so that’s Young’s reasons explained, but what about the other three guys?

In Jimmy McDonough’s Shakey, a biography of Young, CSN drummer Dallas Taylor recalled an infamous limo ride to a Young show with Stills. “Stephen said, ‘How would you feel about Neil joining the band?’” “Wow, great – except isn’t that why the Springfield broke up?’ He said, ‘Oh, no, man – it’s gonna be different this time. It’ll be cool.’”

And it was…for awhile. But at the very beginning, there was some uncertainty from Nash, who said, “We’d spent a lotta time getting this beautiful harmonic sound together. I mean, Jesus Christ, wasn’t the album a huge multiplatinum success? I didn’t feel like we needed anybody else.” But after meeting up with Young at the Bleeker Street Café, Nash admitted, “Neil absolutely won me over. I came out of that breakfast two eggs over easy.”

Granted, the change in the dynamic of the group was a fairly dramatic one at times, as evidenced in some of the material brought to the table by Young, but there’s no denying that the addition of the “Y” to “CSN” was a good one.

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