"The American Beatles": Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
Here's an excerpt from the new book Fire and Rain: The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor, CSNY, and the Lost Story of 1970, by David Browne on the U.K. debut (at Royal Albert Hall) of the band dubbed "the American Beatles" -- Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young:
After opening with "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes," the seven-minute Stills homage to former girlfriend Judy Collins that had become one of their signature songs, their utter self-confidence kicked in. As Paul McCartney looked on, they sang one of his own songs, "Blackbird," from the White Album.
CSNY had tackled it before, including at Woodstock the previous summer, but tonight it was a declaration of their eminence: It practically declared that they were picking up where the Beatles had left off. (To their credit, they sang it lovingly, with Stills holding a long, raspy note in the "dark black night" line that made the song their own.)
The rest of the show broke with tradition in numerous ways.
For the first, acoustic half, the four sang some songs as a quartet, others separately, others with a combination of the four. Like their garb, the songs mirrored their diverse personalities and lifestyles. Crosby’s "Triad" openly coaxed a girl into having a ménage à trois; Nash introduced "Our House," about the cozy, music-and-lovemaking existence he had back home in Laurel Canyon with his girlfriend Joni Mitchell. (He also told the crowd it was from a new album they’d just completed, to be called Déjà vu.) Young’s "The Loner" seemed to be as much about himself — the way he worked on his own schedule, at his own pace, on his terms—as about the song’s borderline-stalker character.
More excerpts of Fire and Rain: The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor, CSNY, and the Lost Story of 1970by David Browne.