Friday, November 30, 2007

No. 259: Crosby, Stills & Nash

Band: Crosby, Stills & Nash
Album: Crosby, Stills & Nash
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: Supergroup was the word of the time in the late 1960s, as Cream and CSN made their hay. Each member of CSN brought their strengths -- Crosby was socially conscious, Nash wrote great hooks and Stills had the musical background to meld styles -- and the band expanded on the Simon & Garfunkel harmonic style.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: I don't love Simon & Garfunkel and I don't love CSN.
Best song: "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" is great.
Worst song: "You Don't Have to Cry" isn't great.
Is it awesome?: Meh. M-e-h.

I was going to write something laudatory about this album, but then, I came across this sentence from our good friend Wikipedia:

Their utilization of personal events in their material without resorting to subterfuge, their talents in vocal harmony, their cultivation of painstaking studio craft, as well as the Laurel Canyon ethos that surrounded the group and their associates, established an aesthetic for a number of acts that came to define the "California" sound of the ensuing decade, including The Eagles, Jackson Browne, post-1974 Fleetwood Mac, and others.

Ugh. You know my love for Fleetwood Mac, but I despise The Eagles and Jackson Browne. So, if Crosby, Stills & Nash's first album really defined those bands, I say boo.


Harmonies are pretty and guitar fingerwork is nice. But, really, what does CSN give you that Simon & Garfunkel doesn't? I guess they have moments of harder rock (which I appreciate, certainly, as soft rock doesn't do it for me), but they're clearly not as literate as Paul Simon is.

"Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" is a wonderful piece of music and I always enjoy it when it comes on. But, the rest of the album is basically Byrds-y melodies with a bunch of dudes singing. I appreciate how hard it is to write a song like that, but I don't enjoy it.

Quite simply, they were better with Neil Young.

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