Certain Songs #1238: Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – “Ohio”

Single, 1970

Recorded at The Record Plant, Hollywood, May 21, 1970

At this point, of course, the story behind “Ohio” probably outstrips the song: on May 4, 1970, members the Ohio National Guard opened fire on a group of unarmed college students protesting the bombing of Cambodia, killing four and wounding another nine.

This pissed Neil Young off so much that he angrily put together a song, gathered David Crosby, Stephen Stills & Graham Nash into a studio in Los Angeles, recorded “Ohio,” then used their clout with Atlantic Records to get it rush-released in June. This, despite the fact that Atlantic had just released “Teach Your Children” as a single.

(more…)

Certain Songs #1237: Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – “Helpless”

Album: Déjà Vu
Year: 1970

Recorded at Wally Heider Recording Studios, Hollywood, on November 7, 1969

And suddenly, Neil Young was everywhere instead of nowhere.

At the very moment that “Cinnamon Girl,” “Down By The River” & “Cowgirl in the Sand” were establishing themselves as once and future hard rock radio staples, Neil took a left turn and joined Crosby, Stills & Nash, just in time for their performance at Woodstock.

(more…)

Certain Songs #1236: Neil Young with Crazy Horse – “Cowgirl in the Sand”

Album: Everybody Knows This is Nowhere
Year: 1969

Recorded at Wally Heider Recording Studios, Hollywood, on January 18, 1969

Remember the last time you got really sick with the flu? And you were running a fever of 103? Do you remember what you did that day? Probably planted yourself in front of the TV and were waited on hand and foot. I’m pretty sure that’s what I did.

I know one thing for sure: I didn’t create anything that day. Or any day I was that sick. Not so much Neil Young, who famously wrote “Cinnamon Girl,” “Down by The River” and “Cowgirl in the Sand” on a day where he was stricken with that kind of fever.

(more…)

Certain Songs #1235: Neil Young with Crazy Horse – “Down By The River”

Album: Everybody Knows This is Nowhere
Year: 1969

Recorded at Wally Heider Recording Studios, Hollywood, on January 17, 1969

In my imagination, Danny Whitten was as surprised as fuck.

“Down By The River” was the first of the Everybody Knows This is Nowhere songs to be recorded, and sure they had jammed, and sure they had probably even rehearsed at least somewhat, but how could Whitten not have been utterly gobsmacked when Neil Young unleashed the opening salvo of his “Down By The River” guitar solo.

(more…)

Certain Songs #1234: Neil Young with Crazy Horse – “Cinnamon Girl”

Album: Everybody Knows This is Nowhere
Year: 1969

Recorded at Wally Heider Recording Studios, Hollywood, on March 20, 1969

This is where it all begins, isn’t it? Sure, after the Buffalo Springfield broke up, Neil Young holed up with Jack Nitzche, Ry Cooder and made an overwrought and overthought self-titled debut solo album that buried what might have been good songs — only “The Loner” truly shines — with some weird production choices.

Realizing that he was missing the spontaneity and the interplay of working with a band, Neil recruited guitarist Danny Whitten, bassist Billy Talbot & drummer Ralph Molina from a local psychedelic group called The Rockets, and rechristened them Crazy Horse. It was magic: the technical limitations of Talbot & Molina kept the songs simple, while Whitten & Young developed a two-guitar interplay that was less balanced than what he’d previously had with Stephen Stills — Neil was the lead guitarist, no question — but more explosive.

(more…)