Neil Young Deja Vu

CSNY: Deja Vu

The addition of Neil Young to the Crosby Stills & Nash supergroup in 1969 created great expectations for the band’s second album, Déjà Vu. The follow-up didn’t disappoint fans, who took the record to No. 1 album after its release in March 1970.

David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash set the bar high with their 1969 debut, Crosby Stills & Nash, a deft mix of folk and rock that featured intricate three-part harmonies. Nash said the first album’s success made the addition of a fourth member a necessary evil.

“When we finished the first record, we realized two things: One, that we had a big hit on our hands, because everybody was just wiped on the floor with it, and two, that we would have to go on the road, ” Nash told Music Radar. “Stephen played every instrument on that record except for the drums and the acoustic guitars that David and I played on our songs. He played bass, he played organ, he played lead guitar, he played rhythm guitar, he played everything. Captain Many Hands we called him.”

Jimi Hendrix and Steve Winwood were asked to join CSN but refused. Atlantic Records’ head Ahmet Ertegun then suggested Young, Stills’ former bandmate in Buffalo Springfield. Nash was underwhelmed with the idea but agreed to meet with Young in New York’s Greenwich Village.

“I didn’t think we needed anybody else, but I said, ‘Okay, if you’re so adamant, I have to meet this guy, '” he recalled. “I knew him as a songwriter, but I didn’t know if I’d like him, if I could hang with him — all of that stuff. So I had breakfast with Neil on Bleecker Street, and after that I would have made him king of the world. He was funny, he was dry, he was dedicated and he was a special man. I realized that right off.”

In the summer of 1969, Crosby Stills Nash & Young performed together at the Woodstock festival and began recording Déjà Vu in Los Angeles with bassist Greg Reeves and drummer Dallas Taylor. The turmoil in the band’s personal lives carried over to the sessions. Stills had split with singer Judy Collins; Nash broke up with Joni Mitchell. Crosby’s girlfriend Christine Hinton had recently died in a car accident.

Listen to Crosby Stills Nash and Young Perform ‘Déjà Vu’

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“I was at the worst place I’d been in my whole life. I would walk into the sessions and break down crying.” Crosby told Crawdaddy in 1974. “I couldn’t function. I was in love with that girl.

“Atmosphere and feeling – now, they count for much more than the actual technical quality of the music. During Déjà Vu, I felt awful. To me, it communicates. There’s good art on Déjà Vu, but you can’t put it on and feel like it’s a sunny afternoon the way you can with Crosby Stills & Nash.”

The LP’s biggest single was “Woodstock, ” which peaked at No. 11 on the Billboard chart. It was the only song not written by a member of the band. Mitchell composed “Woodstock” in New York City as she watched news reports of the historic festival. CSNY sped up the tempo of Mitchell’s ethereal folk song to create one of the band’s signature tunes.

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