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“It’s getting to the point/Where I’m no fun anymore.”
There is an implicit, crème-de-la-crème arrogance to the concept of the “super group” — one thinks of Cream or the Eagles — but arrogance is the last quality we would associate with Crosby, Stills & Nash, one of the first and most enduring of the ensembles formed from the disintegrating great bands of the 1960s.
To be sure, Stills has never had a reputation for excessive modesty, but even he checks his ego, or most of it, at the door when he performs with Crosby and Nash. They remain what they were when they began — the most perfect vessel of the hippy spirit of peace and love.
They are defined, as individual members, by their lyric gifts as songwriters, and as a group, by their angelic harmonies.
Crosby was one of the five original Byrds, Stills a founder of the Buffalo Springfield, Nash the principal creative force behind The Hollies — all three groups, two American and one English, notable for their harmonies.
As their groups began to break up, they started to perform together, more to keep up their own morale than with the plan of producing chart-busters. But the fit was so perfect, the sound so innocent and sweet, that without much of an intention, they became Crosby, Stills & Nash.
With the occasional participation of Stills’ Buffalo Springfield colleague, Neil Young, a few shadows glided over their sun-drenched melodies, but Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young is essentially the same group as Crosby, Stills & Nash, with only Young’s idiosyncratic genius as an electric guitarist signaling that he is on stage with them.
They still sound amazingly young and innocent — something of a limitation, if you compare their rather callow performance of the apocalyptic “Wooden Ships” to that of the Jefferson Airplane on Volunteers (innocence was never the Airplane’s bag) — and they still carry the torch of hope, which we need more than ever.