Mary Eisenhart (marye) Sat 15 Jun 02 14:25
Some of the people who were involved in the Laurel Canyon scene had previously been involved in the Haight-Ashbury scene, which similarly seemed to carry the seeds of its own destruction... From the people you talked to for the book, what were the affinities of those two scenes, and what was different? And does any of it map to the NoCal/SoCal cultural divide?
Mary Eisenhart (marye) Sat 15 Jun 02 17:28
One of the themes that comes up from time to time over the years, quite emphatically at first anyway, is the insistence that they're not a Real Group, they do other projects, they do this when the spirit moves them, etc. Over time, do you think this has turned out to be more of a blessing or a curse?
Dave Zimmer (zimmerdave) Sat 15 Jun 02 18:09
Having CSN in your living room must have been amazing, yes. Cyrus Faryar of the MFQ was one of the lucky ones who experienced this first hand and said, "When CSN stopped in they were jacked to the max. They'd just come from the studio and David said, "Wanna hear our record?' and they just performed it for me! I fell on the floor." Just like Graham said ... Regarding affinities and differences between the late '60s NoCal and SoCal scenes ... good line of commentary, Mary ... Politically and spiritually, I think the scenes were pretty similar -- though the Haight was more urban than Laurel Canyon (and later Toganga Canyon), which was more like a garden, the country. Interestingly enough, when the Haight flamed out, some of that kind of free-flowing spirit, from a lifestyle and music standpoint, moved to the more rural landscape of Marin County. From a CSN perspective, Crosby was certainly the strongest link between the two scenes. He had roots and friends in both places -- most significantly members of the Mamas and the Papas in L.A. and the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane in S.F. Croz knew Paul Kantner before he was even in the Byrds. When I talked to Kantner, who observed CSN&Y live in 1969, he said, "I think some of their desire to crazy electric rockers came from San Francisco. It had that sort of looseness you can get away with if you're from here. But it's not something you learn. You just do it. And when it works, it works." Crosby's first solo album, the Kantner/Slick/Jefferson Starship album, "Blows Against the Empire," and all of the "Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra" sessions, to my ears, were a melding of scenes, at least musically -- with flashes of magic emerging out of spontaneous combinations. Crosby, again, seemed to be a catalyst. Having grown up in the Bay Area, then living in L.A. for 15 years before moving East to New Jersey, I was never that conscious of the cultural divide between NoCal and SoCal. But now that I'm in a completely different place, with a bit more perspective, the roots of the Bay Area music scene seem much deeper and genuine to me. When the Haight burned out, the Bay Area music scene didn't lose its center and sense of community. It expanded it! With the exception of the brief nirvana of Laurel Canyon, L.A. has always been driven by "the business." So when the Laurel Canyon magic left, is was just back to the business of making it and finding the best deal.
Dave Zimmer (zimmerdave) Sat 15 Jun 02 18:29
Regarding the idea that CSN and CSNY were never REAL GROUPS ... I'm not sure it's been a blessing or a curse. A cop out? No. It's just they way it's been, more with CSNY than CSN. History has shown that the "Mothership" concept has resulted in much less "group product" than fans were hoping for, but it has also yielded some exceptional solo and duo efforts -- particularly C&N and Manassas. From a BUSINESS STANDPOINT, the reality is that CSN and CSNY are king. From a MUSICAL STANDPOINT, I'm happy we've also had the various other combinations over the years. Creatively, CPR, Crosby's "side project," often leaves CSNY in the dust these days.
Steve Silberman (digaman) Sat 15 Jun 02 20:28
Dave, great to see you here! And wonderful, wonderful posts. I loved the book the first time around, and I can't wait to see the new edition -- I may even be in it here and there toward the end <grin>. I'm the guy who got <croz> to join the WELL, a story I believe you tell in the book. (If I'm wrong, sorry for making a fool of myself.) Your pointers to CSN and CSN related material jive so closely with my own favorites. And I admire your honesty both here and in the book. I think the one really great song that Stills has recorded since the early '80s was "Haven't We Lost Enough?" on that album with the mind-bogglingly ill-chosen hot dog cover (what were they thinking?). There are a few high spots here and there in latter-day Stills -- the "Blind Fiddler Medley" and "Hollis Brown" (the Dylan tune) are pretty great on the now out-of-print "Stills Alone"; but imagine how sublime that album would have been had Stills recorded it in 1970. (Listening to the earlier and later versions of "Singin' Call" back to back is pretty damned painful.) I think that first Manassas album is one of THE great forgotten masterpieces of the era, as was "Blows Against the Empire," until the generation of Deadheads and Crosbo weirdos who came of age in the '80s restored it to its proper place in the pantheon <smile>. One question for you: In your dreams, how should CSN approach making a new album? What kind of instrumentation? What covers could they do beautifully? Another: What contemporary musicians in the CSN vein do you listen to now? Are there any? And thirdly: If the CSN vault was in order -- which it isn't -- which obscure songs, performances, and so on would you release if you could?
Steve Silberman (digaman) Sat 15 Jun 02 20:40
I just invited <croz> to show up here. Lock up your daughters! :-)
Steve Silberman (digaman) Sat 15 Jun 02 20:48
Not to start blabbling endlessly, but I also rather liked "Only Waiting for You" on "After the Storm," which had an appealing offhanded energy to it. I heard an acoustic version of "It Won't Go Away" in performance that blew my fucking socks off, but on the record, the song is drowned in that tacky snarling guitar that sounds like a rider mower, which is also the downfall of the Stills cuts on "Looking Forward." (Gotta love "Dream for Him" and "Slowpoke" on that record though!)
Linda Castellani (castle) Sun 16 Jun 02 00:12
E-mail from Ernie Osborne: >One of the themes that comes up from time to time over the years, >quite emphatically at first anyway, is the insistence that they're >not a Real Group, they do other projects, they do this when the spirit >moves them, etc. >Over time, do you think this has turned out to be more of a blessing >or a curse? I remember, from an interview which happened within the last couple years, this question was asked of Stills, and he replied more or less and apparently with some lament it might have been a better idea for him to have distanced himself from CSN/Y in a similar respect as had Neil. As a consequence, Stills, it seems, was compelled to rejoin C&N to accomplish any real record company support throughout the 70s and 80s, while Neil, less tied to CSN/Y, was more freed to go his own way and with more label support for his solo work--though both Stills' and Young's solo work through that period had it's ups and downs. My long-lingering question is: Had Stills been as adamant about maintaining his independance as has Young throughout the last 30 years, would Stills now possibly be such a solo draw as has been and remains Young? Do you think Stills' career has been hurt by his strong ties with CSN/Y--immensely talented as all have been and remain. Ernie
Dave Zimmer (zimmerdave) Sun 16 Jun 02 06:03
Great questions, digaman. Thanks. >In your dreams, how should CSN approach making a new album? First, I would love it if they approached the album "live in the studio." "Just roll the tape, man." Air blends on the harmonies. >What kind of instrumentation? Guitars jangling. Acoustic piano. I've had dreams about this ... 1/2 acoustic guitars and piano, 1/2 with electric guitars and a rhythm section-- bring back Tim Drummond or Lee Sklar on bass and Russ Kunkel on drums! >What covers could they do beautifully? I haven't thought about this one lately ... off the top of my head ... How about an old Everly Bros. song, like "Crying In the Rain" or "All I Have to Do Is Dream." Jimi Hendrix's "Sweet Angel" ... Paul Simon's "America" (Nash has done this one solo) ... Arlo Gutherie's "City of New Orleans" ... The Dead's "Ripple" (with Chris Hillman guesting on mandolin) ... The Beach Boys' "God Only Knows," with Croz taking the lead ... Cowboy Scott Boyer's "Please Be With Me" (which Eric Clapton recorded in 1974. I've often wondered what this would sound like with Stills singing lead and three-part on the chorus). Elvis Costello's "Allison" (with Nash on lead vocals). Then a couple more contemporary songs, such as Sheryl Crow's "Home" (from her second album) and Tom Petty's "Free Fallin'." >Another: What contemporary musicians in the CSN vein do you listen to now? I listen to a lot of contemporary musicians. But as for ones in the CSN vein ... let's see ... Toad the Wet Sprocket (not sure they're still together), Gomez, The Finn Bros. (Crowded House members), Semisonic (made up of members of Trip Shakespeare -- a great '80s band from Minnesota), Ryan Adams ... there are others, I know ... Are the Wallflowers still together? It's too early in the morning. >And thirdly: If the CSN vault was in order -- which it isn't -- which obscure songs, performances, and so on would you release if you could? This I'll have to give more thought to ... time to go to Father's Day breakfast with my wife and son ... I'll be back in a couple of hours. That's when I'll also answer's Ernie's questions about Stills ...
David Crosby (croz) Sun 16 Jun 02 09:33
HI there Dave .......praise be to you for your restraint and insight and intelligence while dealing with the hairball of CSNY ......making sense of people who often don't make sense is a tough gig........
Dave Zimmer (zimmerdave) Sun 16 Jun 02 09:47
Thanks for the kind words, David ... but you usually make LOTS of sense ... With regard to previous questions here ... Steve, I would change my answer to your covers question slightly, removing "God Only Knows" and replacing it with "In My Room." As for the CSN vault ... our friend Barncard is probably the best person to offer the definitive answer (is sqb on the WELL?). But based on what I know and have heard ... here are a few things I'd like to see released ... the original instrumental Croz demo of the music that evolved into "Wooden Ships" ... the original Nash demo of "Teach Your Children" ... extended acoustic guitar tracks recorded by Stills for "Carry On" ... Stills and Young on acoustic guitars performing "Mr. Soul" at Woodstock (on the Woodstock box set, Nash introduces this combination only to have the full-band, Fillmore version of "Sea of Madness" is edited in) ... "I Must Learn to Live (So Begins the Task") live acoustic at the Greek Theatre in L.A., August 1969 ... '69 CSN version of Fred Neil's "Everybody's Talkin'" ... '69 CSN version of Stills' "Witching Hour (Ivory Tower)," also demoed two years later by Manassas and covered by Chris Hillman on his first solo album ... Stills walked on at a 1971 Crosby & Nash performance at Carnegie Hall in New York, then Stills and Young showed up at C&N in Boston. A few of these songs must be released some day ... CSN '82, "Feel Your Love" (Stills song pulled off of Daylight Again at the last minute because it shared the a melody line with the Rose Royce song, "Love Don't Live Here Anymore" -- if a publishing deal could be worked out) ... CSN '94, "Isn't It So," pulled off of After the Storm album at the last minute to make room for "Only Waiting For You" ... those are on my "CSN Archives" wish list ... As for other Stills tracks you mentioned ... "Haven't We Lost Enough" is OK, but Stephen himself admitted that he was sick the day that was recorded and he wished he'd taken another shot at it ... I, too, prefer the live acoustic version of "It Won't Go Away" rather than the electric version released on After the Storm ... I agree that a Stills Alone album in 1970 would have been sublime ... the quality of his voice and his guitar picking style was not as clear and strong in 1990-91 ... As for Stills on "Looking Foward" ... "No Tears Left," a strong song that featured too many overdubs; "Faith In Me" is also weighted down by the number of tracks ... "Seen Enough" has its moments, but I like his version of it live better ... If Stills puts out another album, he should have Rick Rubin produce it. I know there was interest there once ... Now for Ernie O's questions... >Had Stills been as adamant about maintaining his independance as has Young throughout the last 30 years, would Stills now possibly be such a solo draw as has been and remains Young? I love the music of Stephen Stills. I wish he had released more solo albums earlier in his career and, at times, asserted his independance more. Back in 1970, he and Eric Clapton were toe to toe as artists and guitarists. Stephen's last truly great solo album was the 1975 Stills album. After 1985's uneven Right By You album, Stills' songwriting output dipped dramatically. For awhile, he just stopped writing all together. He went from being fairly prolific to having to scrape for material, it seemed. I'm always hoping he has a new rush of inspiration. So, in direct answer to your question, Ern ... I don't think Stephen's solo output would have measured up to Neil's even if he had stayed more indepedent. Stephen has often admitted he's more of a "band guy." Neil has always preferred being a bit apart. And since Stephen's output and level of writing took a dip, it would have been difficult for him to be viewed in the same way as Neil as a solo artist 35 years after their Buffalo Springfield days. >Do you think Stills' career has been hurt by his strong ties with CSN/Y--immensely talented as all have been and remain. No. On the contrary, I think CSN and CSNY have only helped his career. The band combinations inspired him, I believe. In the book Shakey, though, Neil asserts that C&N "wore him down." I don't see that. I think Stephen flourishs with support and collaboration. And I think C&N has always given Stephen great support and room to roam. I just wish Stills had done more recording with Young back in the '70s. Today? Neil and Stephen still play great guitar together on stage. I wish a live album and/or DVD from CSNY 2K and CSNY 2K2 could still be released. If Reprise or Atlantic won't release it, perhaps an online deal could be brockered. Lastly. I would like to see Stephen rekindle a relationship with Chris Hillman. Manassas was a solo career peak, and Hillman was his second in command in that group. Stills and Hillman, Live at McCabe's Guitar Shop in Santa Monica ... now THAT would be special.
David Gans (tnf) Sun 16 Jun 02 09:58
I *loved* Nash's performance of "America" at the Paramount Theater in '86 or so -- that Christic Institute benefit. A perfect song for him. Who would sing "Angel?" You know that Hillman recorded "Ripple," right?
Mary Eisenhart (marye) Sun 16 Jun 02 10:15
Whoa, there's a CSN version of "Everybody's Talkin'"?
David Gans (tnf) Sun 16 Jun 02 10:49
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David Gans (tnf) Sun 16 Jun 02 10:53
From Ernie Osborne again: Hi Dave, Thanks for your thoughtful replies. I wonder if you've been approached about, or would even be interested in, telling the stories of any other musical artists? For instance, if there's anything decent that's been written about Joni Mitchell or Jackson Browne, I haven't heard of it. Please give my apologies to your son for my helping to keep you so busy on Father's Day! Ern
Steve Silberman (digaman) Sun 16 Jun 02 11:01
Yes. But even better is their version of John Sebastian's song "Darlin' Children" (is that what it's called?), which is one of *the* great unreleased CSN tracks, recorded back in '69 or so I think... Great choices for covers, Dave. Certainly, CSN should record "America." I think it could even be a single if it wasn't schmaltzed up. That's what I don't get. When the three or four guys just sit down at their instruments, play, and sing, it's manna from Heaven, it's immortal, it's messy, it's charming, it's Art. In CPR -- which I like at least as much as CSN in their current incarnations -- <croz> and the guys have found a way to add keyboards and electric guitars without muddying the essential purity of the music. Not so with the last few CSN/Y albums, which fight against being buried in overdubs. (I happen to adore "Arrows" from "Live It Up" -- I wish Dave would play that with CPR!) Dave, I'm totally *down* with all your vault choices. I'm personally obsessed with Crosby's "Kids and Dogs," as many readers here know. There are a few versions lying around that could be released, including one from the Hollywood Recorders solo session you mentioned which I think should be released in its entirety someday, perhaps as tracks on a Crosby box set. The "Laughing" on that session is to die for! The best "Kids and Dogs," in my opinion, would be the Garcia session, with the electric overdub, *plus* the harmony vocals Croz added during the Dark Ages for possible release on "Might As Well Have a Good Time." I have separate copies of each version of that track, one with the electric overdub, and one with the harmonies (a very high-gen cassette copy of the latter, alas.) I wish I had a Sonic Solutions rig so I could hybridize those two versions! Buy anyway, my obsession is showing :)
Steve Silberman (digaman) Sun 16 Jun 02 11:02
Sorry, tnf slipped in.
David Gans (tnf) Sun 16 Jun 02 11:09
> I wish I had a Sonic Solutions rig so I could hybridize those two versions I do, so let's do it!
Steve Silberman (digaman) Sun 16 Jun 02 11:13
Alas, my cassette copy of the Dark Ages track is not good enough. Hiss city. You can barely hear it. I got it from some dealer I met at a Dead show wearing a "FREE CROSBY" t-shirt <grin>. If anyone reading this topic -- ahem -- has a cleaner copy, I'd love to make this happen, if only for ecstatic home use <grin>.
Dave Zimmer (zimmerdave) Sun 16 Jun 02 14:09
Just got back online after a Father's Day movie ... Ernie O., you're welcome. I gave you my honest opinions. Stills will always be a genius (though a sometimes tortured one) in my opinion. I just hope someday a major career spanning retrospective draws together all of this best songs -- released and unreleased. "One Way Ride (One Way Ticket)," which I was lucky to witness the basic track of in 1980, is a classic that ranks among his finest songs ever. It was on that CBS album that remains unreleased. As far as written works on Joni -- a couple of books exist. They were both done without her cooperation and draw from pre-existing material. If I was going to devote my life to another writing project with the same degree of focus and heart as I did with CSN, Joni would be the artist. She's hard to pin down, though, and has declined previous requests. One unauthorized book on Jackson Browne exists. Published in the mid '80s, it's long out-of-print. David ... yes, "America" by Nash is killer. It would be even better with three-part harmony. And I've heard Hillman's version of "Ripple." Outstanding, as are his covers of "4 + 20" and "So Begins the Task" with Rice, Rice & Pederson. Steve ... I agree 100 percent with your thoughts on "Kids and Dogs." That is a killer song ... great vocal harmonies, with Croz and Garcia in exquisite form on acoustic guitars. Your writings about that song have been a joy to read. I must admit I have not heard the "Laughing" recording from that session. I'm sure it's really something. The merging of the two versions of "Kids and Dogs" sounds cool, if, as it appears, with DG's help, it's technically possible and "clean" versions can be found. sqb? An official Crosby box set, including demos, Bryds, CSN, CSNY, C&N, solo, CPR and key "guest harmony" tracks would be a treasure to behold. "Samurai" would certainly have to be on there, as would "Coast Road" (great background writing on that song, diga) and "Jack of Diamonds." I, too, love Croz's "Arrows" from the "hot dogs on the moon" album. Great words and melody line. A CPR version live or recording with "less track" would be fantastic.
Dave Zimmer (zimmerdave) Sun 16 Jun 02 14:14
>But even better is their version of John Sebastian's song "Darlin' Children" (is that what it's called?), which is one of *the* great unreleased CSN tracks. I agree, diga. Believe it or not, that track was released asd "How Have You Been?" in 1992 by MCA Records on a charity album called "Ninetendo: White Knuckle Scorin'." Beautiful Stills vocals and CSN harmonies. It's hard to find now.
Steve Silberman (digaman) Sun 16 Jun 02 14:50
Oh, goodness. I shall have to hit eBay for that one. Thanks for your generous comments, Dave. I've never heard "Jack of Diamonds." I agree that "Samurai" is one of the great lost Crosby tunes, particularly the version recorded for the unreleased album, which is remniscent of "I'd Swear There Was Somebody Here"; in later studio versions and performances, <croz> seems to have decided that it's an *Irish* samurai he's singing about, which doesn't work for me. Another sweet forgotten bit of Crozbosity is "Your Life is What You Fill Your Day With," which Crosby didn't even remember writing when I mentioned it. Dave, what are your favorite covers of CSN tunes?
Mary Eisenhart (marye) Sun 16 Jun 02 15:13
Alas, Steve, I already hit eBay and there is nada!
Dave Zimmer (zimmerdave) Sun 16 Jun 02 16:13
>Another sweet forgotten bit of Crozbosity is "Your Life is What You Fill Your Day With," which Crosby didn't even remember writing when I mentioned it. I also have always really liked that song. The only version I've ever heard was on a Crosby & Nash bootleg called "High Above Cayuga's Waters," recorded at Cornell University September 5, 1973. I just which David had written more verses. The song is really short, but with a nice, optimistic sentiment. No Nash harmony on this live take. Just David and acoustic guitar (changes I actually learned once upon a time, though I haven't tried to play the song in years). David doesn't remember writing it? Wow. Dave, what are your favorite covers of CSN tunes? Boy, that's a good question, Steve. Here are a few ... "Triad," Jefferson Airplane "Guinnevere," Paul Horn "Deja Vu," Fareed Haque "So Begins the Task," Judy Collins, Chris Hillman "4 + 20," Chris Hillman "Helplessly Hoping," Taxi "Carry On," Fareed Haque "Teach Your Children," Suzy Boguss, Alison Krause and Kathy Mattea I would like to hear Tom Petty cover "Black Queen."
Adam Perry (adamice9) Sun 16 Jun 02 16:16
First of all, thanks a million for being here, Dave. Now, as a 21 year old poet, novelist, musician, and music journalist, I was intrigued by your comment "its possible for a journalist to be an artists friend without becoming a sycophant." I was wondering if you could give us your own distinction between journalists and artists, as a few of my very favorite journalists, in my mind, are indeed artists - writers who are not simply recording what others are doing and have done, but also *creating*. As a rock journalist and biographer, do you think a journalist can in fact be an artist, and if so, what does it take?
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