The odd thing about Binghamton, NY at the time was that some students started school in February and graduated in January. So when I graduated in January 1971, I looked for a job for six weeks before securing a job at IBM, one of the area’s largest employers.
I usually worked 56 hours a week, from 5:12 pm to 4 a.m. on weekdays, with 48 minutes for lunch, and from noon to 6 on Saturday. So I was exhausted on Sunday. It’d only be on Monday that I might go out and buy some music magazines, and, eventually, more albums, even as I saved money for college.
So I was only vaguely aware that the Rolling Stones had moved to France as a tax haven, and would be recording their next album, Exile on Main Street, there. I WAS aware that they were getting their own imprint, under the aegis of Atlantic Records. And it was impossible not to know that Mick was marrying Bianca from Nicaragua.
I know I bought the current album, Sticky Fingers, later that summer, on the same day I bought Carole King’s Tapestry. I learned only later that the songs “straddled two decades,” with some tracks, such as Brown Sugar and Wild Horses, having been recorded as early as late 1969.
The day of the wedding there were other albums released for which I have specific memories, although not necessarily in that time frame. Paul McCartney’s Ram was a guilty pleasure; he was the uncool one, while Lennon was presumably more profound. There are several articles reexamining the Macca oeuvre of that period. I actually did go out once that summer and heard some cover band do Smile Away, which pleased me.
My parents and I were at the house of our family friends, the Pomeroys, in nearby Vestal. Maybe this was Christmas 1971, but I’m not at all sure. What I DO remember is that my mother was DANCING, and I have no other recollection of that. The CSNY Four-Way Street album, specifically Carry On, was playing. It’s a 4- or 5-minute song on Deja Vu, but 14 minutes on the live album, and about 10 minutes in, Mom was ready to quit.
In the early 1980s, an old girlfriend of mine had remarried, and her new husband, who I had known years before, and I were torturing his young stepsons with our air guitar/drum version of the title song on Jethro Tull’s Aqualung.
Earlier this year, some friend of mine was kvetching about something Neil Young had said or done. Given that his current album, which I haven’t heard yet, is an indictment of the Monsanto Corporation, I rather expect that this would be a highly likely prospect.
How did Elvis Costello become “a prototypical angry young man”? “About seeing a ferocious Neil Young performance, he writes [in his new autobiography]: “This was the lesson I took away from that day: If there is an apple cart, you must do your best to upset it.”
The second and third of Neil’s solo albums, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere and After The Gold Rush, were regular visitors on my college turntables. Neil has put out about three dozen albums, and I have about half of them. This does not include his work with Buffalo Springfield or Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. And his album Decade includes some of his group efforts, to complicate this list; I opted to leave off Ohio and Helpless – but link to them here – lest I then need to consider other CSNY songs on this already long list.
To say his body of work is eclectic understates the phenomenon.
25. Change Your Mind – SWA. A song for Kurt Cobain. 24. Tonight’s the Night – Tonight’s the Night. A song about a roadie for CSNY who died of a heroin overdose 23. Winterlong – Decade (D). I’m particularly fond of the harmony vocal. 22. Walk On – On the Beach. “I hear some people been talkin’ me down, Bring up my name, pass it ’round…” A message that’d be perfect for the Internet age. Got to #69 on the charts. 21. From Hank to Hendrix – HM. Among other things, great harmonica.
20. Pocahontas – Rust Never Sleeps (RNS). “Aurora borealis, The icy sky at night.” Johnny Cash did a great version of this too. 19. Don’t Let It Bring You Down – ATGR. I thought I did a decent Neil imitation, and this was one of the songs easiest to replicate. Love the intro from a CSNY live album when Neil says the song starts off slow and fizzles out altogether. 18. Cowgirl in the Sand – EKTIN. Anthemic. 17. Only Love Can Break Your Heart – ATGR. A waltz. And very true. #33 on the charts. 16. Oh Lonesome Me – ATGR. This is one of the greatest covers, ever. Compare this to the jaunty Don Gibson hit from the 1950s.
15. Birds– ATGR. I find this terribly sad. 14. The Loner – Neil Young, 1968. I was unaware of the first, eponymous Neil album. But I heard a version of this song on the first Three Dog Night album. I figured it was an obscure Buffalo Springfield cut; nope. 13. Mr. Soul – T. Neil must really care about this song. He recorded it with Buffalo Springfield, and it was the beginning of their Broken Arrow. 12. Old Man – H. James Taylor played six-string banjo, and he and Linda Ronstadt contributed vocals. Got up to #31 on the charts. 11. The Needle and the Damage Done – H. About the heroin addiction of two friends, before they died. Recorded live at UCLA.
5. Long May You Run – Long May You Run (Stills-Young Band), 1976. There are several versions of this song, but this version, which I first heard on Decade, which I believe features the harmonies of the full Crosby Stills & Nash, is my favorite. It has to do with the verse citing Caroline, No. 4. Like a Hurricane – D. An electric masterpiece. 3. When You Dance, I Can Really Love – ATGR. I don’t remember if SHE thought so, but when I was in college, I always thought this was my girlfriend (the Okie) and my song. Love the fact that it starts off fairly slowly, but picks up greatly. This song soared all the way to #93 on the charts. 2. Cinnamon Girl – EKTIN. About the perfect pop song, complete with hand clapping. 1. Harvest Moon– HM. This song is personal, about love lost.
…and somehow, I think the person most surprised by that fact may be David Crosby.
When he got kicked out of the Byrds in the late 1960s, he joined up with Stephen Stills, formerly of Buffalo Springfield, and Graham Nash, who had left the Hollies, to form what was generally considered to be the first “supergroup.” If I could remember the name of the group, I’d tell you. At least one of their first two albums, the latter with Neil Young, also formerly of Springfield, was in every dorm room at college. I saw CSN at some point in the 1980s at Albany’s Palace Theater.
Crosby was known for his left-leaning politics, and his excessive use of drugs and alcohol, which resulted in numerous arrests, multiple rehabs, and a liver transplant.
My sister Leslie gave me this album about a decade ago called CPR: Live at the Wiltern. Usually, she gives me religious material, but this was a 2-CD set, with the first album jazzy/noodly. The second album featured songs I knew: Long Time Gone, Deja Vu, Eight Miles High, Ohio, and Almost Cut My Hair. Turns out CPR stands for Crosby, Jeff Pevar, and keyboardist/vocalist James Raymond, who is the son Crosby never knew he had until years later.
My favorite David Crosby performances, though, were on the first season of The John Larroquette Show (1993-1994), where Crosby played Chester, sponsor to Larroquette’s John Hemingway, “a recovering alcoholic who becomes the manager of a big city bus station”. Crosby appeared in about a half dozen episodes of this “comedy noir”, then they got rid of the character Chester when the show lightened up in subsequent seasons; wish I could find those episodes online somewhere.
Don’t Let It Bring You Down “guaranteed to bring you down…it starts off slowly, then fizzles out altogether.”
Before our work unit moved to Cubicleland, we used to have offices, with doors. And we used to play music – out loud, not using headsets – in said offices. For a time, I shared an office with my boss Mary, who had very catholic tastes. I played (and play) a very eclectic set of music. And there were only two musicians she ever objected to, both because she just couldn’t stand their voices: Willie Nelson and Neil Young. Neil, in particular, was a particular irritant because she’d hear his music more often on the radio. Moreover, she and Neil are both November Scorpios.
I decided to look at Neil’s discography. But if I commented on every record I owned, it’d take forever.
1963 The Squires “The Sultan” b/w “Aurora” 1966 Buffalo Springfield – Buffalo Springfield 1967 Buffalo Springfield – Buffalo Springfield Again 1968 Buffalo Springfield – Last Time Around Neil Young – Neil Young. Not only do I have this album, I even reviewed it here. 1969 *Buffalo Springfield-Retrospective Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere. This is the album with the wonderful handclap driven Cinnamon Girl, which undoubtedly is one of my 50 favorite uptempo songs, plus two classic, lengthy – around 10 minutes each – tunes, Down By The River and Cowgirl in the Sand. 1970 Crosby Stills Nash & Young – Déjà vu. Features Neil’s Helpless. Neil Young – After the Goldrush. This was my Neil college album. Only Love Can Break Your Heart was a minor hit (#33), but probably my favorite song was When You Dance I Can Really Love, an even more minor hit (#93), but which I most associate with my college sweetheart; also, I love it starts off really slowly but picks up tempo – get to the end, then go back to the beginning. 1971 Crosby Stills Nash & Young – 4 Way Street. A live album with the first version of Neil’s “Ohio” (“tin soldiers dead and Nixon coming”) that I owned. Also contains a funny monologue intro about Don’t Let It Bring You Down “guaranteed to bring you down…it starts off slowly, then fizzles out altogether.” 1972 *Neil Young – Harvest. Contains his only top 30 single, the #1 Heart of Gold. From the liner notes of his Decade album, I got the sense that the commercial success made him uncomfortable. Neil Young & Graham Nash – “War Song” b/w “Needle and the Damage Done” – have War Song on a Warner Brothers Loss Leader album. It eventually shows up in the 2009 box set. Neil Young – Journey Through the Past We now come to the me, poor college student section. 1973 Neil Young – Time Fades Away 1974 Neil Young – On the Beach 1975 Neil Young – Tonight’s the Night Neil Young – Zuma 1976 The Stills-Young Band – Long May You Run. The title song, one of my favorites, appears on Decade. 1977 *Neil Young – American Stars & Bars. Featuring Like a Hurricane. Neil Young Decade – a greatest hits (as it were) album. With “Sugar Mountain”, a B-side not previously on an album, though played often on my college radio station. 1978 Neil Young – Comes a Time 1979 Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Rust Never Sleeps. I prefer Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black) over My My, Hey Hey (Out Of The Blue), because it’s LOUDER. Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Live Rust. The songs from Rust Never Sleeps ARE ALREADY live. 1980 *Neil Young – Hawks & Doves 1981 *Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Re-ac-tor 1982 *Neil Young – Trans. Lots of vocoder stuff including yet another version of Mr. Soul which I may prefer to the original. 1983 *Neil Young & the Shocking Pinks – Everybody’s Rockin’ 1985 Neil Young – Old Ways 1986 Neil Young – Landing On Water 1987 Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Life 1988 *Neil Young & the Bluenotes – This Note’s For You – the title song’s about rockers selling out to commercial interests. Crosby Stills Nash & Young – American Dream. Neil’s stuff was the best on the album. 1989 Neil Young & The Restless – Eldorado Neil Young – Freedom. Features Rockin’ In The Free World, twice, plus his version of Wrecking Ball, which Emmylou Harris covered. 1990 Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Ragged Glory 1991 Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Arc Weld 1992 *Neil Young – Harvest Moon. Besides the title song, painfully tied to an old relationship, I especially like From Hank To Hendrix. 1993 Neil Young – Lucky 13 Neil Young – Unplugged. Quite fond. 1994 Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Sleeps With Angels. Favorite song: “Piece Of Crap” 1995 *Neil Young – Mirror Ball. Grungy album with members of Pearl Jam. 1996 Neil Young – Dead Man Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Broken Arrow. Loud first side, more mellow second. 1997 Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Year of the Horse 1999 Crosby Stills Nash & Young – Looking Forward 2000 *Neil Young – Silver & Gold. Middle four songs feature vocals by Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris. Neil Young – Road Rock v1 2001 Buffalo Springfield – Box Set 2002 Neil Young Are You – Passionate? 2003 Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Greendale Neil Young – Greatest Hits 2005 Neil Young – Prairie Wind. On my Amazon list. 2006 *Neil Young – Living With War. Perhaps too pedantic, but I liked it anyway. Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Live At The Fillmore East 1970 Neil Young – Living With War: In The Beginning 2007 Neil Young – Live At Massey Hall 1971 *Neil Young – Chrome Dreams 2. Features the 18-minute Ordinary People, which, surprisingly, works for me. 2008 Crosby Stills Nash & Young – CSNY/Déjà Vu Live Neil Young Sugar Mountain – Live at Canterbury House 1968 2009 Neil Young – Fork In The Road Neil Young – Archives Volume 1 Box Set Neil Young – Dreamin’ Man Live ’92 2010 Neil Young Le Noise