Deja Vu CSNY

CSNY/Deja Vu

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - Déjà Vu - Album Cover Location - Novato, California - 1970

(In the backyard of David Crosby's rental house)

This is the album cover.

(credits: album cover courtesy of Atlantic Records; cover photo: (c) Thomas O'Neal (formerly: Tom Gundelfinger); art direction Gary Burden)

- Tom O'Neal's website (the rock section):
- Gary Burden's website: garyburdenforrtwerk.com

Yes, this is the tree. Is still growing in sunny California, some 20 miles northeast of San Francisco in the city of Novato.

(Photo by tree owner)

And here is the album superimposed over the tree, over 45 years later.


Here's a similar view, but with an outtake from the photo session. The shot is by Tom O'Neal (who then used the name Tom Gundelfinger). Tom has designed and/or photographed over 100 album covers and still practices in the San Francisco area.

(Inset photo by Tom O'Neal)

Stephen Stills, who is a Civil War buff, wanted the cover to look like an old photo from that era, the 1860's. Here's one, from about 1870, that I found on Ebay, with a little added sepia tone.


So, to get the look, the band went to a costume store to get outfits that looked 19th century. Stephen himself got a Confederate army uniform. Crosby got a "Buffalo Bill" Cody outfit. Dallas Taylor (right, drums) got a gun-slinger outfit, and the rest of the guys (from left: Neil Young, Greg Reeves (bass), Graham Nash) rented kind of a mish-mash of cowboy outfits.

(Photo by Tom O'Neal)

With his moustasche, Crosby ended up looking a lot like the real "Bufflo Bill" Cody, a famous showman who travelled the USA with "Annie Oakley" putting on Wild West Shows in the late 1800's.

He also looked uncannily like some Union general from the Civil War, also in a photo from Ebay.


In order to make the record cover look like an old-fashioned Civil War-era keepsake photographic album, Stephen Stills asked the photographer to take the photo with an old wooden box camera similar to the one used by Matthew Brady, the great Civil War photographer.

In that era, over 140 years ago, it took over 2 minutes to capture the image onto a glass plate negative, so the band posed without moving for that long. As they did, a dog wandered into frame and became immortalized.

Actually, the experiment with the box camera didn't yield a good enough photo for the cover, so they ended up using a 35-mm photo, taken during the 2.5-minute pose, instead, but printed with a "Fox Talbot" photo technique from the 1850's to give it a vintage look. (source:4waysite.com)

This is a version of the old photo and the present-day tree as put together by my friend and colleague Dolf van Stijgeren who runs the CSNY fan site, 4WaySite (4waysite.com).

Here's a photo of a keepsake leather photo album that was typical of those found in the Civil War era from about 1865. The album cover is a pretty good likeness.

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Q&A

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