As purveyors of some of the most poignant songs of the rock era, it would seem that David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash were working from an agenda when they were turning out their counterculture messages more than 40 years ago.
Not exactly, according to Crosby. While it was important for the trio to have their message heard, the band didn’t deliberately set out to create a catalogue of social activism songs.
“Generally we don’t really consciously do it as a purpose-driven thing,” he said. “We don’t say, ‘OK, the cause this week is civil rights, it starts at 3 [o’clock].’ It’s really just a response to life, it’s the same thing you would do if you see something happening that you think is awful, you’re going to respond to it…”
During a 2008 appearance at the Aspen Writers’ Foundation’s “Lyrically Speaking” seminar, Crosby said his own writing has always been a very sporadic thing.
“Sometimes I’ll write three things during the week, and then nothing for a year,” he said. “I make a space for it, but I don’t push it.”
For Crosby, the process of actually writing a song exists on several levels. Songs can take anywhere from a matter of hours to even years before the tune is compete, and sometimes even years isn’t enough time.
“Sometimes, the entire thing comes out in one burst,” he said. “Sometimes, you hack away at a thing for years before you get something that satisfies you. I’ve got two or three [songs] like that.”
His writing output during the past decade has largely been productive, he said, because he’s been teaming up with his son, James, to collaborate on songs.
“That’s worked out very well,” he explained. “Largely, I write from life, the same way anybody else does. I write from what happens to me, mostly about love. People notice the other [political] stuff more, but I write mostly about love.”
Just one year shy of his 70th birthday, Crosby, who founded The Byrds in 1964, said his love songs have taken on a new direction as he’s grown older.
“You tend to write as you get older about family love more than you write about romantic love,” he said. “That’s the big difference. The stuff you want to celebrate about humanity has always been there, and probably always will be.”
Crosby, Stills and Nash, who return to Borgata’s Event Center on Sunday, Aug. 29, have a history with Atlantic City that actually pre-dates their historic appearance at Woodstock in 1969.
Three weeks before the famous music marathon in upstate New York, Crosby, Stills & Nash — a band that only a year earlier had failed an audition with The Beatles’ Apple Records label — played one of their first live shows ever as a trio on Aug. 1 during the first day of the three-day Atlantic City Pop Festival at the Atlantic City Race Course in Mays Landing. The band had just released its self-titled debut album, which was well on its way to four-time platinum sales status.
For better or worse, the music business that existed 40 years ago, when CSN was just breaking out, bares little resemblance to the industry today. Records and record stores have practically disappeared; even CDs are becoming obsolete now that more consumers and downloading their music right from the Internet.
Although he was one of the musical leaders of the counterculture, antiestablishment movement, you won’t hear Crosby muttering curses about the developments that have changed the music business.
“iTunes is the record company of the future, that’s how it’s gonna work,” he said. “And that pays me, and it’s fine, I’ve got no problem with it at all.”
The Internet has pretty much leveled the playing field when it comes to consumer access to music, he added.
“The basic great thing about [music] in the digital age is the Internet,” he said. “That means anybody have just as much access as I do. You can make your little tape and … put it on the ‘net, and if it’s any damned good, somebody’s gonna notice. It’s happened over and over again. To me, that’s good. It’s access that isn’t controlled by the [record] companies, and I think that’s a great thing.”
Casual conversations with the stars. Watch the Emmy-winning Curtain Call with David Spatz, Saturdays at 6pm on WMGM-TV NBC40.
For once, horses weren’t the center of attention. Instead, it would be a day for music and politics.
The musician and artist will make two special Jersey Shore appearances this weekend , including a show at Borgata and an artist reception in Stone Harbor at Ocean Galleries.
"It just blazed. But it was freezing cold and pissing down rain and we played until we were going to get electrocuted and we had to stop."
Twelve days after Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin took mankind’s initial steps on the moon, Atlantic County braced for another first — the staging of the Atlantic City Pop Festival. The roster of acts spanned the musical spectrum.
THE FOLK-ROCK TRIO Crosby, Stills and Nash make a stop during their summer tour at the Borgata's Event Center Friday night. Although they're without sometime band mate Neil Young, the trio is armed with a new double-CD by a couple of its members (Crosby-Nash) and a presidential campaign in full swing. That's right, as announced recently, David Crosby and Graham Nash are jointly running for President of the United States. When asked who their vice president candidate would be at a press conference last month, Nash replied, "We'll have two presidents, and between us we have vice covered." Even though Nash was born in England and the legendary singer-songwriters clearly endorse the Kerry-Edwards ticket on their official web site (crosbystillsnash.com), the comical campaign includes a light-hearted commercial that can also be viewed on line at crosbynash2004.com. Recording and touring together -- and with solo projects -- for the past 35 years, CSN (and sometimes Y) are responsible for a plethora of music over the years. The trio's self titled 1969 debut, which included the songs "Long Time Gone," "Marrakesh Express" and "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes," and the following year's Déj� Vu, with the classics "Our House," "Almost Cut My Hair" and...
At 67, Neil Young still performs with the youthful exuberance that his surname might imply, galvanizing legions of fans of varied ages who showed up for a Superstorm Sandy benefit show at the Borgata Event Center Thursday evening, Dec. 6. All proceeds from the event were donated to the American Red Cross.