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Crosby, Stills & Nash is the first album by Crosby, Stills & Nash, released in 1969 on the Atlantic Records label.
The album was a very strong debut for the band, instantly lifting them to stardom. Along with the Byrds' Sweetheart of the Rodeo and The Band's Music From Big Pink of the previous year, it helped initiate a sea change in popular music away from the ruling late sixties aesthetic of bands playing blues-based rock music on loud guitars. Crosby, Stills & Nash presented a new wrinkle in building upon rock's roots, utilizing folk, blues, and even jazz without specifically sounding like mere duplication.
Not only blending voices, the three meshed their differing strengths, Crosby for social commentary and atmospheric mood pieces, Stills for his diverse musical skills and for folding folk and country elements subtly into complex rock structures, and Nash for his radio-friendly pop melodies, to create an amalgam of broad appeal. Eventually going multi-platinum, in addition to the above mentioned singles, Crosby, Stills & Nash features some of their best known songs in "Wooden Ships" and "Helplessly Hoping". "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" was composed for Judy Collins, and "Long Time Gone" was a response to the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy.
This album proved very influential on many levels to the dominant popular music scene in America for much of the 1970s. The success of the album generated gravitas for the group within the industry, and galvanized interest in signing like acts, many of whom came under management and representation by the CSN team of Elliot Roberts and David Geffen. Strong sales, combined with the group's emphasis on personal confession in its writing, paved the way for the success of the singer-songwriter movement of the early seventies. Their utilization of personal events in their material without resorting to subterfuge, their talents in vocal harmony, their cultivation of painstaking studio craft, as well as the Laurel Canyon ethos that surrounded the group and their associates, established an aesthetic for a number of acts that came to define the "California" sound of the ensuing decade, including The Eagles, Jackson Browne, post-1974 Fleetwood Mac, and others.
The original vinyl LP was released in a gatefold sleeve that depicted the band members in large fur parkas with a sunset in the background on the gatefold (shot in Big Bear, California), as well as the iconic cover art. A long folded page inside displayed the album credits, lyrics, track listing, as well as a quasi-psychedelic pencil drawing.
On the cover the members are, left to right, Nash, Stills, and Crosby, for no particular reason, the reverse of the order of the album title. The photo was taken by their friend and photographer Henry Diltz before they came up with a name for the group. They found an abandoned house, north of 809 Palm Avenue, West Hollywood, across from the Santa Palm car wash that they thought would be a perfect fit for their “image”. A few days later they decided on the name “Crosby, Stills, and Nash”. To prevent confusion, they went back to the house a day or so later to re-shoot the cover in the correct order, but when they got there they found the house had been reduced to a pile of timber.
The Crosby, Stills & Nash triumvirate shot to immediate superstardom with the release of its self-titled debut LP, a sparkling set immortalizing the group's amazingly close, high harmonies. While elements of the record haven't dated well -- Nash's Eastern-influenced musings on the hit "Marrakesh Express" now seem more than a little silly, while the antiwar sentiments of "Wooden Ships," though well-intentioned, are rather hokey -- the harmonies are absolutely timeless, and the best material remains rock-solid. Stills' gorgeous opener, "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes," in particular, is an epic love song remarkable in its musical and emotional intricacy, Nash's "Pre-Road Downs" is buoyant folk-pop underpinned by light psychedelic textures, and Crosby's "Long Time Gone" remains a potent indictment of the assassination of Robert Kennedy. A definitive document of its era.
01. "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" (Stills) – 7:25
Stephen Stills-vocals, guitar, bass, percussion; David Crosby-vocals; Graham Nash-vocals; Dallas Taylor-drums
02. "Marrakesh Express" (Nash) – 2:39
Stephen Stills-vocals, guitar, organ, piano, bass; David Crosby-vocals; Graham Nash-vocals, acoustic guitar; Jim Gordon-drums
03. "Guinnevere" (Crosby) – 4:40
David Crosby-vocals, guitar; Graham Nash-vocals
04. "You Don't Have to Cry" (Stills) – 2:45
05. "Pre-Road Downs" (Nash) – 3:01
06. "Wooden Ships" (Crosby, Stills, Paul Kantner [uncredited]) – 5:29
Stephen Stills-vocals, lead guitar, bass, organ; David Crosby-vocals, rhythm guitar; Graham Nash-vocals; Dallas Taylor-drums
07. "Lady of the Island" (Nash) – 2:39
David Crosby-vocals; Graham Nash-vocals, acoustic guitar
08. "Helplessly Hoping" (Stills) – 2:41
Stephen Stills-vocals, guitar; David Crosby-vocals; Graham Nash-vocals
09. "Long Time Gone" (Crosby) – 4:17
Stephen Stills-vocals, guitar, bass, organ; David Crosby-vocals; Graham Nash-vocals; Dallas Taylor-drums
10. "49 Bye-Byes" (Stills) – 5:16