4. CROSBY STILLS NASH AND YOUNG — Déjà Vu
“Carry on” begins with purposeful strummed acoustic guitar before the voices enter, harmonising like a heavenly hippy chorus. Some slithery electric guitar creeps into the next bridge, instruments fall away for a sublime vocal refrain; here’s a little organ, a two word snap of Steven Stills’ voice. There is a funky momentum to the opening track on Déjà Vu, the first album by the incontrovertibly ‘super’ group of David Crosby, Steven Stills, Graham Nash and Neil Young.
If this collection of song-writing and playing talent wasn’t enough, Jerry Garcia pops up to add steel guitar to Nash’s “Teach your children” while John Sebastian blows some harmonica on Crosby’s “Déjà Vu”. But at the core, this classic album orbits the songs—and the voices that deliver them—with a commitment undimmed by passing decades. You want the early ‘70s aesthetic? It’s all here. A dash of longhair paranoia in “Almost cut my hair”, the twee sentimentality of “Our house”, country yearning for an even earlier time in Young’s “Helpless”, and the magnificent cover of Joni Mitchell’s “Woodstock”.
The nostalgia (doubtless influenced by The Band) is captured in the photo on the front cover (literally glued on in some countries, printed on in Aus—hence my multiple copies. Yes, I know). The sepia shot of a hunting party, complete with dog and guns, rightly includes the rock-solid rhythm section of Dallas Taylor and Greg Reeves. Personally, I’m not fond of guns as a concept but there’s an acoustic guitar there too, amongst the shadows.
Listening again, I loved Stills’ electric guitar contributions (subtle, forceful, delicate, strident) and both his and Neil’s songs. Less connection remains with Graham’s simple songs but that may be because I can no longer find my way back to the garden, now doubtless overgrown. Or paved to make a parking lot.
We have this in our house. Do you?