Friday, 27 January 2012

Crosby Stills and Nash "Daylight Again" (1982) (News, Views and Music 131)

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Crosby, Stills and Nash “Daylight Again” (1982)

Turn Your Back On Love/Wasted On The Way/Southern Cross/Into The Darkness/Delta//Since I Met You/Too Much Love To Hide/Song For Susan/You Are Alive/Might As Well Have A Good Time/Daylight Again

“So much to make up, everywhere you turn…”

This is CSN’s difficult third album – so difficult that it was delayed by a full thirteen years compared to their debut and recorded in very different circumstances to the first two. Back in 1969 and to some extent 1977 CSN had been kings of all they surveyed, with effortless top ten hits and the world hanging on their every word. They were the pinnacle of the American Dream: young, hip, outspoken, talented, healthy and what’s more they were unified, unbreakable, unconditional in their pursuit of the music in their heads. But the five years between albums had been very difficult indeed for all three members. Solo albums had come and fallen flat, their biggest champions Atlantic Records had got fed up of waiting for an investment return that never came and the world had moved on from believing that hippie harmonies could save the world. CSN were human after all and were no longer supermen, succumbing to all the temptations of the age: drugs, women, drink and pop production numbers. In David Crosby’s case it was a series of temptations that nearly killed him, leaving him adrift with a solo record the bigwigs wouldn’t let him release and a drug habit so costly it meant he had to release something. It makes sense that CSN should struggle in this era more than most too: the 1960s were all about those CSN standbys of hope, help and healing but by the 1980s these had been replaced with a sense of cut-throat competition and collapse. The public didn’t want to be reminded of their hippie heritage so soon into this dark new world full of haves and have-nots where the Cold War and the Falklands War could only be solves by shouting and shooting. The result is an album that was in many ways guaranteed not to sell and is very much a record out of its own time-stream, not least because it isn’t sure what to do with this new world, to confront it head on or pretend that love is still coming to us all, honest, however unlikely. It’s not so much ‘Daylight Again’ as CSN disappearing behind a cloud – at the time, with Crosby in such a bad way and so many gaps between albums, it seemed like they would be disappearing forever.

That’s the traditional view of ‘Daylight Again’, an album that was never going to be allowed to live up to past golden rosy moments and which would never have been loved in quite the same way as the first two even if it had. But I have a sneaking regard for this album, which is a cut above anything CSN had made separately (released or unreleased) since the ‘one with the boat’. It’s quite a beautiful album when it wants to be, with Crosby’s farewell ‘Delta’ stretching out into the icy wastelands of the 1980s with a 1960s glow it knows may soon be gone forever or Nash trying to make up for lost time with ‘Wasted On The Way’, an attempt to pack ten missing years of soothing beauty into three brilliant minutes. It’s also quite a stark and scary album, where Stills dissects the American Civil War, Stills and Nash dissect their love-life and Nash turns on Crosby in a way none of the rambunctious but generally supportive CSN ever had before. ‘Turn Your Back On Love’ is an attempt to wrestle with the new look 1980s head on, full of worry, doubt and daring from men who had already faced more broken relationships than they cared to think about, lost in a world that they don’t understand any more as it turns its back on everything they ever held dear. ‘Southern Cross’ is the perfect pop single, even for a band that had already come up with [18] ‘Marrakesh Express’ [222] ‘Just A Song Before I Go’ and [27] ‘Teach Your Children’. That’s a pretty decent investment for a record that wasn’t even meant to be a CSN record when it started and which only became a full trio release very late on in the day.

Let me interrupt myself here by saying that I have a soft spot for this album, not because it’s the best thing CSN ever did or because it changed my life, but because it is one of those records that nevertheless is special despite its flaws. Everyone with a collection containing more than about six LPs has a record that seems to follow them around, irrespective of how good an album it actually is. This is, in many ways, mine. This record was released into the world just thirteen days before I was). We’re both a bit battered now (I’m not saying which of us has aged better over the years but, believe me, I’ve taken a lot better care of this record than I ever took care of myself, so that should give you a clue – mind you at least I don’t come with any 1980s synth sounds, or at least I don’t think I do) and both of us were equally lost in our surroundings in the 1980s of money-mania, coolness, yuppies, upper classes, shoulder pads and paranoia, the very antithesis of everything both of us stand for. I discovered my first copy of this album the first day I ever went to my second home of Carlisle and bought my CD copy the day before I left after years of living there, as part of a celebration of actually having some student loan left over after my final year of university. There’s a very-me cover (that seems to have nothing to do with the record) of UFOs attacking humanity’s greatest landmarks, or perhaps the war between tradition and the quest for pioneering that rules everything I do.  Of all the bands on this site that I collect, CSN are the best at understanding my moods, helping me understand the latest twists and turns of the latest emotional rollercoaster, at re-stoking the fire I need to fight back against what holds me down and igniting my passion for being alive. And even for a CSN record ‘Daylight Again’ seems to be always there in my subconscious, luring me on to put it back on my sub-consciousness’ CD player that seems to be playing even in my sleep. All that and it isn’t even close to being their best LP.

Yet even I know that ‘Daylight Again’ isn’t an out-and-out masterpiece that I can recommend to you on the same level as ‘Crosby, Stills and Nash’ ‘Deja Vu’ or the severely under-rated ‘CSN’. In truth, this is the first CSN album that’s less than the sum of its parts, the first ‘band’ record to sound weaker than the solo records of the early and mid 1970s, hence its lack of inclusion on our top 101 list (truth be told probably about thirty of those records would have been CSN-related, but that seemed excessive even for me so I had to cut it down). In 1982 ‘Daylight Again’ was a record out of touch with its times, criticised for sounding too much like the 1960s and dismissed as being irrelevant to the record market of the day. Sadly time hasn’t dimmed that feeling that its creators aren’t necessarily in control the way they once were. Now in 2012 this record is barely remembered at all, but on the other hand when mentioned its usually with a ‘hazy glow’, talk of how it might well be the last ‘traditional’ sounding CSN album and how wonderful it is that it doesn’t sound like all that ghastly mush from the same period that went out of fashion so soon (or as CSNY put it in 1988 ‘how could something so good go bad so fast?’)

There are, after all, many a mitigating circumstance for why this record isn’t as top-notch as it might have been than probably any other record in my collection. Compared to the brotherly love of the first two CSN albums (and even compared to the torture of CSNY’s ‘American Dream’) this record was hard work to make. For a kick off, this record started life as Stephen Stills solo record on CBS which, following lessening sales in the second half of the 1970s, mutated into a Stills-Nash project, the only two-way partnership in CSN that hadn’t worked together till then. Alas CBS weren’t up for that either and cancelled the whole thing, leaving Stills and Nash to limp back to their parent home of Atlantic. They, too, wanted CSN or nothing and, against their better wishes, Stills and Nash abandoned their original plan two-thirds of the way through to go back to working with a very poorly David Crosby. In other words, this album that started off with great love and energy had turned into a compromise before sessions properly began. It was never intended to be a three-way set and for much of its history didn’t even have Nash involved never mind Crosby – what a poor fall from grace for a band that, just five years earlier, were still getting top ten hits and making US no ones.

It seems hard to justify that feeling that nobody would buy a S-N album, now that CSN have proven themselves to have a loyal enough fanbase to make it worth releasing anything by any of the band and that this happened so soon after the decade that, arguably, belonged to CSN more than anybody (people reckon its Bowie or Queen but, really, did they reflect their era, the politics and what is was like to live in the wake of the 1960s, in the era of the Kent State Massacres and Watergate the way CSN did? I think not! Pink Floyd make as bold a claim in the UK, by the way, but it was America that was the country that changed the most that decade). Perhaps that sudden fall was because, in the 1980s - the decade of every-man-for-himself and money flashing - CSN’s brotherly vibes simply didn’t fit any more, in any permutation. All CSN solo records were selling poorly by the end of the 1970s, partly out of fashion (punk hit harmony bands like CSN harder than, say, the Sex Pistols’ much-publicised taunts of Pink Floyd who simply cranked their electric guitars up a little higher) but also, you suspect, because of quality. While nothing like as bad as some reviewers will tell you, Stills’ 1978 LP ‘Thoroughfare Gap’ was further evidence that his ridiculously impressive run of songs from 1965-75 was now at an end (the best songs are the disco ones, the rest just sound like weaker versions of what Stills had written before) and Nash’s ‘Earth and Sky’, while still an impressive album, was easily the weakest thing the singer had worked on up to that time (making eight out of ten tracks ballads probably didn’t help either in the ‘new wave’ era of three minute rockers). CSN’s solo records were plainly not selling, CBS wanted to wash their hands of ever buying up C and S’ contracts circa 1976 and even record company Atlantic (whose founder member Ahmet Ertegun championed Stills’ work in particular to the day he died) were only willing to back the band if all three men were together, more for being part of a recognisable firm people would know than for musical reasons.

You may have noticed that there really isn’t much David Crosby on this record, even after his name gets added to the front cover. That’s the reason most fans give for disliking ‘Daylight Again’ over the years and, in truth, it’s a wonder that Crosby gets as much as one song and two vocals on this album given the barely functioning state he was in by 1982. Ever since the release of ‘CSN’ (the one with the boat) in 1977 David Crosby’s life had been falling apart. The drug dependency he’d been hiding for years was now becoming noticeable to friends, colleagues and, most worryingly, concert audiences. The story often repeated by Nash is a jam session back in 1981 when Crosby stopped the music abruptly to rescue a pipe that had fallen off a table. The pipe was easily replaceable, but Crosby was distraught, if only because it delayed his next opportunity to use the drugs he had on him; Crosby didn’t think twice about the incident but for Nash this was symbolic that the drugs were now more important to his old friends than the music and he vowed not to work with him unless he cleaned up his act. Relations between CSN had always been stormy, but for Crosby (still in denial about his drug habit at this stage) his partners had betrayed him badly, Stills for dismissing him and his problems (‘Please don’t speak of it’ he’s meant to have said to one magazine asking whether the drug rumours were true, rolling his eyes, ‘I mean we’ve got ball players with the same problem’) and Nash for what he saw as hysteria (‘It’s only a matter of time before he dies’ Nash is meant to have said in an unguarded moment to a reporter, the last straw for Crosby who had gone to hell and back with his partner and didn’t realise the response was intended to shock him into cleaning himself up and was meant with concern and kindness not cruelty). Ironically, though, it was Stills and Nash’s distance from their partner and their refusal to have him in the band when he ‘wasn’t 100% there’ that was meant to save his life and ‘shock’ him back into being his old self. In Crosby’s head, the fact that his partners had to come back and beg him to re-join the band justified his lifestyle to himself and must have reminded him of the time Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman drove over to his house in 1968 to tell him he was out of the Byrds and that his career was ‘finished’. Unfortunately, this time it was ever so nearly true and all this album did was to delay the inevitable, giving Crosby the money to keep himself in drugs through to 1984 when a judge finally sent him to a Texas penitentiary for a year, more as an attempt to save his life than through malice (thank goodness Crosby seemed to get a sensitive judge, as opposed to the monsters who threatened him on previous court cases).

Some articles then and now paint Crosby as a sorry figure in this period, unable to function as a human being never mind a musician (not least an ‘expose’ allegedly written by Crosby himself for short-lived People magazine 1981 and unwittingly printed under the name ‘Confessions Of A Coke Addict’, intended to silence rumours that was so badly handled by a clearly disbelieving reporter who memorably called Crosby a ‘pirate badly in need of some vitamin C’ that instead it merely fuelled them to record levels). This article isn’t going to paint any more of this dark picture: you only need to listen to ‘Delta’ to realise how aware, resilient and talented Crosby still was at times, even at the height of his addictions, and if you really need to know the details then Crosby’s own book ‘Long Time Gone’ is the definitive warts-and-all autobiography, one that set the benchmark and fashion for several other musicians over the years with lesser tales to tell (how typical, though, that it’s been out of print for some time now while, say, the book Charlotte Church wrote at aged sixteen ten years ago when she’d barely started living is still widely available). All you need to know for this album is that Crosby hangs like a ghost over the record, with other singers (such as Art Garfunkel and Poco’s Timothy B Schmidt) depping for him during the bulk of the album sessions (with Crosby overdubbing his own parts later, sometimes) the subject of his fall from grace inspiring songs from both Stills and Nash for this record (Neil Young wrote his own song about Crosby in this period, ‘Hippie Dream’, the best song from ‘Landing On Water’ in 1986) and the fact that his unique writing voice limited to just one – admittedly superb - song.

That said, there’s one easy way this record could have been better. I’ve read lots about the second David Crosby solo album, recorded in 1981 and rejected by CBS, more because of Crosby’s growing reputation for being unreliable and his first few run-ins with the law (mainly due to driving while under the influence of drugs and carrying a pistol in a public place in the wake of John Lennon’s assassination, something which sounds quite reasonable to me given that everybody in America seems to own guns but clearly not to the judges in court). The music that has come out over the years ([311] ‘Distances’ [312] ‘Flying Man’ and re-recorded versions of [239] ‘Drive My Car’ and [305] ‘Melody’ on ‘Oh Yes I Can!’ in 1989, a re-recording of the legendary much-recorded [420] ‘Samurai’ on ‘Crosby*Nash’ in 2005 and [241] ‘King Of The Mountain’ and [88] ‘Kids and Dogs’, two outtakes from earlier CSNY/PERRO sessions released on ‘Voyage’ in 2006) is largely fabulous and if Stills and Nash had really wanted to they could easily have added two or three of these top-notch songs as well as ‘Delta’ (‘Distances’, a song about the inability of human beings to get on with each other, would have been a particularly strong and suitable song given the difficulties between old friends in the making of this album). From Crosby’s point of view the fact that they replaced some of his better efforts with a cover version intended for his album and Nash’s ‘Into The Darkness’ (a song about how ill Crosby really was in 1982) was galling at the time and caused him to feel even further apart from the former friends he also needed to survive.

The problems didn’t stop either after this record was in the can. At the last minute Stills heard that his song ‘Feel Your Love’ was the subject of a court case from the music publishers of the late 1970s disco band ‘Rose Royce’ (how did they hear it? I’ve always wondered) and as a result it was dropped from the record at the total last minute. It says much for CSN’s stock that they could go from pioneers of music par excellence in 1969 to being accused of recycling songs from such an empty source as disco in 1982, but that said ‘Feel Your Love’ surprised many when it eventually came out on CD as a bonus track for this album in 2006. More romantic and slower than the disco songs on Stills’ other disco project ‘Thoroughfare Gap’, it features exquisite three-part harmonies (with Crosby’s more obvious than it is anywhere else on the record). There’s a second outtake, ‘Tomorrow Is Another Day’ included on the latest CD re-issue too, and its less clear why this strident rocker should have missed the cut given how much work was clearly spent on it, although the lurches between the softer and louder passages do make for a bit of a bumpy ride. Perhaps the biggest mistake, though, was cutting ‘Daylight Again’ down to size to make it easier on fan ears – a concert favourite from the Manassas days of 1972/73, it used to be a 10 minute epic of a capella blues free-wheeling, allegedly improvised on the spot by Stills at a gig and then copied as well as he could remember thereafter. That version still hasn’t been released but sounds fabulous on bootleg, whilst the audiences who were there for these early gigs still talk about in hushed, awed voices (it seems odd it wasn’t included as a bonus track when the CD came out). Either way, this four minute masterpiece is a gem on the record – but heard in its original incarnation with all its lost verses it might well have become CSN’s best loved song of the period. In the end all three of these songs/alternate versions were replaced by Nash’s ‘Into The Darkness’ at the last minute, a positive given the fact that this song gave Nash more of a say on what was very nearly a Stephen Stills solo record and added some much needed fire into the album’s middle, but sad in the sense that Nash balked at putting such a nasty song about Crosby on a record that he was involved in (ironically, as the only recording started from scratch as a CSN  project, Crosby spent more time on this song than any of the other Stills or Nash tracks). While none of these ‘missing’ songs are long lost gems, they do make more sense than some of the ones included on this album’s patchy second side and could have accounted for a much more memorable album.

Talking of which, this album is easily split into the two halves of vinyl it used to make its home. Side one is largely nostalgic, bittersweet, yearning for something and disappointed with what life has to offer. We get the one true Stills/Nash collaboration in ‘Turn Your Back On Love’ and there’s also ‘Into The Darkness’, both of which occupy themselves with Crosby’s rise and fall to some extent (there’s maybe a bit of Stills’ in the first song too); there’s Crosby’s own ‘Delta’ about being lost in the tides of human sub-consciousness (or something like that);  Stills’ epic about going on a sea journey to cleanse his soul after another failed marriage (‘Southern Cross’) and finally the ultimate CSN theme song, Nash’s ‘Wasted On The Way’ about all the music that was left unheard and all the opportunities missed by the band over the years (that even makes reference to the ‘other’ CSN theme song [3] ‘Change Partrners’). Side two is a much happier affair, full of Stills and Nash love songs to their respective wives and Crosby’s lifeless cover of friend Craig Doerge’s ‘Might As Well Have A Good Time’, intended for his CBS album (an ironic choice of song given Crosby’s health at the time and the lines ‘it ain’t long before its gone...’) that celebrates enjoying life to the full before ending with the title track, a long awaited tale of the civil war that hopes all these sacrifices are worth it. If ‘Daylight Again’ has a fault, it’s that these two sides don’t really sit side by side and hearing three similar soppy songs about being in love so close to each other all but slows this album to a crawl at the start of side two.

There is though an album theme (of sorts) to tie everything up in a satisfying whole the way that ‘Crosby, Stills and Nash’ and ‘Déjà vu’ both felt as if they belonged together: of all the CSN/Y albums out there, this is the one most concerned with the self. Graham’s wife Susan gets an actual name check in one song title, ‘Daylight Again’ deals with a real dream Stills had about his second obsession the American Civil War (just in case you were wondering where Manassas got their name it was a place – and train station – that played a sizeable role in the fighting) while other songs, notably the love songs, seem more full of doubts and angst than usual. CSN had always been amongst the most open and honest of bands but compared to the first album, especially, it’s remarkable how open this album is about things going wrong. ‘Failure’ is the main theme of this record, from a band who had the world at their fingertips and let it slip away. ‘Wasted On The Way’ obviously looks at a catalogue that should have been fuller than it was, but ‘Southern Cross’ too sighs that ‘we never failed to fail – it was the easiest thing to do’, the message to ‘carry on’ coming only at the end that ‘you will survive being tested’. ‘Into The Darkness’ is as cutting as any punk track but its turned on its head: ‘CSN represent sunshine and hope’ rails Nash at Crosby, ‘how dare you let the side down!’, admitting years later he was trying to shock his old friend into changing his ways. Even so, it’s a more brutal and honest song than other hippies would have written (even the infamous Lennon-McCartney fall-out had nothing on this!) ‘Delta’ too is Crosby all but admitting that he’s fallen asleep at the wheel of his life, too tired and too awed to move himself from this delta where he’s landed up, sinking in the mud. It’s no wonder CSN revived that song for this record (as well as its brilliance) – it’s agonised struggles to move on while revelling in the beauty of the possibilities that could be if life went a little better is this band and particularly this album to a tee. It’s not just CSN who have let the side down, though, but ‘us’ too as the world goes to hell. ‘Turn Turn Turn’ mocks the opening song, a memory of the Byrds song that for many American started the musical revolution (at least in tandem with The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show) but it’s hollow, mocking, as we turn away from the promised land and we all turn our back on peace and love. The title track too is about what people went through in centuries past to bring ourselves to this point – a period of cold war, missiles and inhumanity.

This album is ultimately flawed – it’s not as timeless as the first album or ‘Déjà vu’ and with CSN so desperate for sales it sounds more like other records of its era than the timeless quality of other CSN/Y records. There are a couple of duff tracks on the second side (it’s a real shame that two of the middling songs from the sessions got the push so late in the day). Even without the backstory of Crosby being missing from most of the sessions you can tell that something is off with those gorgeous golden harmonies, however good a job Mike Finnigan does on what is his crowning achievement during his many years with the band. Far from a record with the ambition of changing the world, this is an album about how CSN can’t even change themselves. That said, there’s so much about this album to enjoy that people miss, from Crosby’s one true masterpiece of the period (so good even Stills and Nash thought it worth adding to the album) to the catchy Stills and Nash singles that deservedly put the band back in the top ten. Then there’s the masterpiece of the poignant title track which finally finished off a song beloved by fans ever since being heard, incomplete, as the B-side to the single ‘Ohio’ in 1970 and makes the past as relevant as the then-present. All of it is competent and survivable – and a good third of it is fabulous. If you’re a newcomer to the CSN universe, this probably isn’t the best place to start, but if you’ve already bought the records we’ve reviewed on our list and want to know more, then ‘Daylight Again’ sounds remarkably better than its reputation suggests it should. More fool the record companies who resisted putting out first a Stills and then a Stills-Nash album in the early 1980s where these songs might well have sounded better though – although then again the thrill of hearing the trio working together again, albeit only in a half-hearted, stuck-on-after-the-fact way, is still a thrilling one.  Oh and one fun piece of trivia: according to Croz’s twitter feed the cat on his shoulder on the back cover was named ‘Ahmet’ in honour of the Atlantic label boss who gave the trio their big break! (Probably by coincidence, it’s significant of his ‘nine lives’ in this period). What a shame Stills doesn’t have a chameleon called ‘Neil’ and Nash doesn’t have a guppy fish named ‘Mama Cass’ on their shoulders to complete the nostalgic vibe…

The Songs:

The album sets out its stall from the beginning, with [254] ‘Turn Your Back On Love’ possibly the moodiest track in the whole of CSN’s catalogue. The song began life when this project first became a Stills/Nash rather than just a Stills album, when the pair were still getting to know each other all over again. Nash was warming up during rehearsals and started playing a gloomy (and most un-Nash-like) improvisation around some chord changes he particularly enjoyed, inspiring Stills to come up with the melody and lyrics in quick succession based on what he heard. The one true Stills-Nash collaboration in their forty-three years (to date) of working together, it sounds like neither men’s normal work, being a halting blues-pop song that sounds like one huge long sigh. Stills, who sings the bulk of the song, is surely inspired more than he is on most of this album and clearly is writing from the heart following the collapse of marriage number four in the early 1980s. On the surface this song is clearly Stills’ update of his happier songs about his burgeoning relationship in this era, with free spirit Stills sounding unusually trapped and uncertain of himself on a song that cleverly manages to subvert all the things he was singing about in the early days of the (listen out for the mentions of ‘walls’, often included in Stills’ lyrics and here oppressive compared to, say, ‘What’s The Game?’ from ‘Thoroughfare Gap’ where its the girl whose playfully hiding ‘behind walls’). Along with ‘Live It Up’s ‘Haven’t We Lost Enough?’ this is the one Stills song that doesn’t find the guitarist either happy in love or happy to search, instead sounding at his grumpiest in a clever arrangement that has a bubbling bass line stuck to the chord changes like a slave labourer and the only flashes of colour are from Stills’ wah wah guitar. In a wider sense, too, this is the world at large in 1982, when the world so nearly ended, having turned away from hippie togetherness into a cold world where everybody has either turned their backs on love or had love turn away from them. There’s still a glimpse of hope, however, courtesy of an extraordinary unexpected key change upwards on the line ‘if you believe it, love is quite strong enough’, the last gasp of the optimism of the Woodstock spirit that he enthused every CSN release since the early days. Alas here its quickly trampled down by the funeral march of the rhythm section and the down-turning harmonies that appear to follow the exact opposite line of Deja Vu’s happy send-off ‘Everybody We Love You’ (because nobody loves them anymore?) That said, there’s clearly another sub-context at work here. If the first verse is quite definitely about Stills’ marriage, the rest sound more like an attack on Crosby. The lines about ‘dying to prove what you’re thinking of’ rather sadly sum up Crosby’s stubbornness and refusal to find help for his addiction in this time (Crosby checked out of at least half a dozen rehab programmes and even ran away with wife Jan on his boat at one stage rather than risk changing his lifestyle). Listen to the chorus too: ‘Turn! Turn! Turn!’ sings Stills, in a slower, more angry version of the Byrds’ uplifting hit of that name (from 1965) and the ‘light’ that blinds the person in the song acts as both a metaphor and the light that Crosby, as a drug addict who preferred the dark and mainly scored from dealers at night, was symbolically turning his back on. The result is a clever song quite unlike anything else in the CSN canon that seems to relate to both of the problems Stills was suffering at the time and is expertly played by all concerned. Long term keyboardist Mike Finnigan is never better than here, filling in for Crosby vocally so neatly that few fans spot him without reading the performance credits and he also adds some discreet organ to the bottom of the mix that just makes the song. It’s the Stills-Nash vocal harmonies that excite most though and you sense that, had this album come out as a two-way effort, ‘Daylight Again’ would still have been a great record.

Following such a dour (if classy) opener, [255] ‘Wasted On The Way’ sounds like a tonic, a return to the folky-pop touches Nash brought to the first two CSN albums and, fittingly for a song about water under the bridge, sounds like a babbling brook flowing with love. However, lyrically this song is every bit as intense as ‘Turn Your Back On Love’, being an update of Nash’s 1976 song ‘Taken At All’ about all the lost opportunities and music that fell to band arguments down the years (aborted projects in 1970, 74, 76 and 79). There’s even a nod of the hat to ‘Change Partners’, a Stephen Stills solo song actually about the ballroom courtships of his youth but seized on by his bandmates as the perfect song for their ever-changing line-ups. Recorded in the middle of an album beset by so many problems, it must have struck Nash as being especially poignant, with Nash moaning at the lack of records now that the band looked like it had no future – and at the time there was indeed a very real feeling that, with Crosby’s problems, this might have proved to be the very last CSN record. For once on this record you can tell that Crosby isn’t really there on the harmonies (technically he is, but added later and not singing his usual parts) and Poco/Eagles singer Timothy B Schmidt simply isn’t in the same class. There’s also an annoying fiddle part that sounds out of place, pushing this song a little too far down the country road. A poor performance can’t ruin a song this good, however, and there’s a real poignancy and power about the writing that makes it one of Nash’s best songs, especially the way the lyrics are matched by a melody that somehow manages to match bittersweet nostalgia and the feeling that the melody is hurrying on, with no time to spare. Incidentally, The Hollies performed this on stage in the 1980s as their token ‘Nash song’ for all the curious fans who wanted to know what Nash’s pre-CSN band were like – a tale of parting friendships and growing older, it was a fitting choice for a band who themselves had already experienced the feelings in this song when Nash left them in 1969. Thanks to the lack of Crosby and the rather lifeless arrangement, I actually prefer the Hollies version of this song, but in anybody’s hands this song would be a gem.

[256] ‘Southern Cross’ is better still, a song Stills re-wrote after falling in love with an obscure Curtis Brothers song ‘Seven League Boots’ and asking if they would mind if he changed it a bit. Inspired by Crosby before him, Stills was turning into a keen sailor and feeling restless during the end of his second marriage found it a good way of delaying going home. Getting lost one day he realized that he was searching for more than just the shoreline. The holiday gave him space, too, to consider his wife’s point of view rather than losing his temper at everything and to consider his own broken history with women, literally travelling ‘around the world’ looking for a love that ‘will endure’. Licking his wounds he realises why ‘twice you ran away’ and agrees, not unlike [169] ‘As I Come Of Age’, to do better next time but also pleading that they have been through too much to just stop. Feeling guided back to shore by some mystical power, he imagines the same in his relationships, realising that ‘what in heaven brought you and me cannot be forgotten’. All three writers come out of this story well, with the original general tale of coming to terms with a sea-change in life with a journey across the sea inspiring Stills to his observant and commercial best in the lyric. It’s sweet to hear Stills effectively ‘filling in’ for his partner and effectively re-writing [49] ‘The Lee Shore’ and [216] ‘Shadow Captain’ as if Crosby is still in the band. The vulnerability though is pure Stills as despite the presence of a singalong chorus and a chirpy, ear-catching acoustic riff, this song is very naked and open, with some of Stills’ career best lines about ‘never failing to fail’. Still, though, his optimism kicks in as he tries to heal both himself and us, sensing salvation somewhere at sea in the Southern Cross. A song about picking yourself up after a fall and working out what keeps you going, this song can make all the geographical references it wants – we fans know this is really a journey in the mind and the last verse (‘You will survive being tested, somebody will come along, make me forget about loving you’) is the perfect realisation that, as on ‘Wasted On The Way’, there are still roads to travel and happy experiences to enjoy. As good as anything Stills ever wrote, this song is backed up by a fine band performance, with glowing CSN harmonies (again with Finnigan filling in for the most part) kicking in at key moments and an air of sighing hope and despondency few other artists have the subtlety and poise to match. A deserved hit in the US, this song was also backed up by a fine music video – CSN’s first – that can still be seen regularly on all good music channels (and definitely deserves a home on the next CSN DVD release!)

[257] ‘Into The Darkness’ seems like an odd title for a record entitled ‘Daylight Again’ but, well, it’s probably a more suitable title for the album sessions. In fact it’s a reply of sorts to a Crosby-led song [205] ‘Out Of The Darkness’, a track from the third and final Crosby-Nash record ‘Whistling Down The Wire’, with all that song’s hope turned to bitterness and despair. As discussed, this song was added at the last minute and is in fact the only released-on-the-album song one to feature Crosby as a full part of the harmonies. That’s a shame because this awkward angular song is really about Crosby and must have been uncomfortable for the singer to sit through, even if its lines (‘I see you coming to the end of day, and was it worth it? No one can say!’) sound sadly spot-on and actually show Nash’s concern more than his anger. There’s no getting away from how raw this song still was though: just listen to Nash swallow his last line ‘There’s no use denying our love is behind you’, as if he doesn’t want Crosby to really hear that line but has to tell him somehow. Many modern fans who know how close Crosby and Nash were and are have been puzzled by this seeming betrayal but sadly its all too easy to understand: by 1982 Nash had paid for endless hospital rehabilitations, taken part in several interventions, tried to plead, shock and score with his friend to get him to stop and nothing had worked. This is Nash making it perfectly clear to his partner what his substance abuse has cost him and, at its best, is a moving account of how Nash has ‘lost’ his friend along the way, no longer sure who he is. (For the record, and for those who think that Nash is being hypocritical here, the singer had largely given up drugs when his girlfriend was murdered for drugs by her own brother in 1973 – his sudden switch in personality was something Nash felt happening again with Crosby and hurt him even more than seeing his best friend change personality – he’d already seen how bad the outcome might be). That’s admirable, but for us fans the result is at times painfully uncomfortable to listen to, with Stills adding his own tension with one of his most over-the-top desperate-sounding guitar solos and Crosby’s voice seemingly especially loud in the mix, as if to show up the flaws and ‘prove’ Nash right with his observations. If that seems odd it must be remembered that CSNY were always using each other as song matter (that abandoned Crosby album alone features his song for Stills ‘King Of The Mountain’ with that great opening line ‘He sits in a grand stand-alone...’) and as Nash’s best friend it’s understandable he should write about Crosby, albeit originally for a solo album. The fact that this song was revived for an album that helped pull Crosby down by making him think he could function normally is an ironic shame, but Nash gamefully tries with a vocal just the right side of raw and the triple guitar attack of Stills, Nash and friend Michael Stergis is wonderfully raw and angry.

[258] ‘Delta’ is Crosby’s one song on the album and it’s a masterpiece, seemingly put here on the album after ‘Into The Darkness’ as if to remind us all how wonderful Crosby used to be. The story goes that Crosby was painfully finding his way through this song, the last one written for his abandoned solo LP, but kept abandoning it to smoke his pipe when friend Jackson Browne came to visit, took a look at the first draft of lyrics and literally manhandled Crosby in a car, took him to the nearest piano (as Crosby had sold his for drugs – luckily Warren Zevon lived round the corner and let them use his), refusing to let Croz leave his seat until he finished the song. We fans are so grateful that Jackson did that because ‘Delta’ is prime Crosby, full of unusual jazzy chord sequences and a beautiful but haunting lyric, seemingly about the shared stream of consciousness that flows through all human beings and unites us. It’s one of his most beautiful songs as the narrator remains awed by life, watching fast flowing rivers rage past him and stuck out on a tranquil limb where life is passing him by. The best verse is surely the last, where Crosby confronts his demons with lines about how his ‘river boat’ is ‘crazy for the deep’, with someone else in charge of his body ‘thinking in my sleep’. As the sort-of follow up to 1977’s [216] ‘Shadow Captain’, our first sort-of clue that anything was wrong with him (compare that song’s ‘trying to give the light the slip’ with Stills’ similar lines about light in ‘Turn Your Back On Love’), its superb, Crosby’s real self forcing its way through his dependency and sluggishness for one last piece of beauty.  There are also flashbacks to other songs, with Crosby’s narrator watching others around him ‘dance’ (see [56] ‘Laughing’ and various other songs) while for him time goes so slowly he cannot hope to join in and experience life for himself, now trapped as an observer of life in a haze of his own making. In his book Crosby recounts how this was the last song he wrote for five years and how excited he was to feel his muse coming back: to hear this track you wouldn’t think anything was wrong, but that said there’s still a drug-addled feel to this song and performance, slowed to a crawl and shimmering rather than clear. Of all Crosby’s songs only [369] ‘Time Is The Final Currency’ can move me to as many tears as this one and its extremely well handled here, with Stills and Nash adding an unobtrusive harmony vocal to the original recording (Crosby and Nash sing the last verse alone, in pristine harmony, a lovely touch given the ‘distance’ they talk about in the last song and their movement away from each other on the key change ‘in my sleep’ is simply one of the most moving things I have ever heard). Crosby too uses all his might to perform his lyric well and do his song justice (the fact that he sounds half-asleep at times merely underlines this song’s main themes) and the result is a triumph, complete with one last trademark wordless vocal on the fade. Crosby’s best song of the decade, possibly since his work on ‘If Only I Could Remember My Name’ in 1971 and if this had been his last released piece of work, as many feared at the time, it’s one hell of a way to go. Beautiful yet scary, ‘Delta’ is an incredible piece of work by anyone, never mind a writer struggling as much as Crosby was at the time.

Thereafter side two is a bit of an anti-climax, not surprising really given the emotional rollercoaster we’ve just been on.  [259] ‘Since I Met You’  is a Stills/Stergis song that would have sounded fine had this album stayed as a Stills solo project, sharing much of the effervescent poppyness of other solo albums like ‘Thoroughfare Gap’ and the soon-to-be-coming ‘Right By You’. Here, though, it sounds rather bland and lifeless against such strong material and needs an extra little something (the riff, though a good one, is clearly building up to something every time it goes duh-duh-duh-duh-duh, the song falling flat when we simply get a rather boring return to the song’s beginning again. There are some good lyrics here, though, with Stills saluting yet another new partner in his life and how she ‘never worries but always cares’ and his flummoxed reaction, born from that boat journey on the ‘Southern Cross’ ;don’t know why you ever chose me’. As full of life as other great Stills-in-love songs (‘Suite: Judy Blue Eyes’ ‘Sugar Babe’ ‘Love Story’), it’s a shame that this song peters out from such a strong opening, with a truly oddball middle eight about relaxing and not asking questions of your bride if you don’t want to hear about her worst qualities which sounds out of place here. This song’s other problem is a rather lifeless arrangement, with again only another strong and fiery guitar solo from Stills adding any real emotion into the mix. It doesn’t help that Stills’ vocal is so badly swamped on his own song, drowned out by Nash and Finnigan (and, amazingly, Crosby, heard here loud and clear for only the second time on the album).

[260] ‘Too Much Love To Hide’, a Stills/Tolman song this time, is virtually the same song all over again: a song in praise of the great qualities of women it suffers from the same problems of sweet lyrics set to a riff that never quite fully delivers and an arrangement that compared to, say, the similar Latin-orientated excursions of Manassass sounds lifeless and dead. That said, this time the middle eight is the saving grace, with Stills adding yet more lines about ‘walls’, repeating his excursion of ‘What’s The Game’ that its better to love and lose than never to love at all, with the narrator’s biggest fear being ‘lost’ behind a wall he’s built for himself. Again, the highlight is another fiery Stills guitar solo, although unlike the previous one this sounds angry and contemptuous rather than summing up the joy and passion of the lyrics.    The joy of looking for a partner isn’t quite enough to sustain a song that, by the sound of it, was recorded on a particularly aggravating day (Stills and Nash sound at each other’ throats at times) and could have done with a few more re-takes or a re-make to get right. Whilst not the worst song CSNY ever did (most of those are to come, on next project ‘American Dream’ in 1988), this one is just a bit bland and should really have been booted off the album in favour of a second Crosby song from his abandoned LP.

[261] ‘Song For Susan’ is Nash’s take on the same theme and sounds much more heartfelt somehow, being at one with Nash’s other love songs for wife Susan as featured on ‘Earth and Sky’ in 1979. After years of various partners and wives (among them Rose Eccles, left behind in England when Nash left the Hollies for CSN, singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell and Amy Gossage, murdered in 1973 by her own brother – see news and views no 75) its lovely to finally hear Nash so happy and the fact that Susan gets mentioned by name in the title – the only time Nash ever did this – makes it clear how big his allegiance is. Like many a Nash song its just the right side of cloying, with its characteristic crashed piano chords (all of Nash’s love songs seem to have been written on piano), slow-burning opening and sudden introduction of other instruments. Like Stills love songs, though, there’s just enough truth and honesty to make this song stand out from the pack (Nash would never have damaged his reputation n as a lothario with such lines like ‘all by myself, there was much I had missed, you came and showed me what happiness is’ had he not felt that this relationship was something special).For once on this site, a string arrangement actually enhances a song, with four cellos doing some lovely things unobtrusively down the bottom of the mix in the left speaker and there’s possibly the best use of CSN harmonies on this record (Crosby’s single line in harmony without Stills on ‘...wrapped around yours’ is particularly moving). Not as original pioneering as the best songs on side one, there’s still a sweetness and peace about this track that makes it one of the best songs on this album and one of the most neglected of Nash’s fine run of love songs.

[262] ‘You Are Alive’, however, is possibly the weakest track here, another Stills love song from his doomed solo record that finds the singer far out of his comfort zone and is so slow that, along wsith the ballads either side of it, rather slows the album down to a crawl. That’s a shame because the lyrics at least are fascinating, being something of an update on Stills ‘Manassas’ song ‘Move Around’ about why human exist and why we lead such strange lives at times. ‘Love’ is the answer here, as it was for the past three songs in a row, making the narrator ‘feel alive’. There’s a particularly strong middle eight (‘Do you know what life would be without her?...) that gives this song something of a Motown vibe, plus a lovely last verse when Stills admits that before love came into his life ‘I was like all the rest...cannot see’). But by and large this is another song that sounds lifeless, ironic given how alive love is making Stills feel in the lyrics, and is a lesser song than both ‘Feel Your Love’ and ‘Tomorrow Is Another Day’, two other Stills songs booted off this record.

[263] ‘Might As Well Have A Good Time’ is another candidate for the weakest song here, a Crosby-sung cover of friend (and collaborator) Craig Doerge and Judy Henske’s song. Heard as originally intended, as the unexpected upbeat cover on a Crosby solo album, this would have worked fine as a kind of life-affirming glow to set against such comparatively down songs as ‘Distances’ and ‘Samaurai’. Here, though, its a mess: the bar-room piano accompaniment merely shows up all the cracks in Crosby’s voice (and unlike the sleeve writers – and Nash – who think that Crosby’s original solo version, added to the CD, finds him ‘singing like an angel’, its actually the singer at his worst, especially the half-hearted life at the end of the second verse). It’s also ironic and a little uncomfortable to hear a man who knows how close he is to death singing about all the great things life has to offer before you die, with the ‘nickles and dimes’ hustling in the song used for drugs, not for getting by through life’s obstacles as per the original song. On the plus side, Stills and Nash’s harmonies are spot on here, a sensitive accompaniment that says more about their love for Crosby (by hiding the faults in his voice) than any amount of songs or interviews (Stills, especially, sounds strong, using the blues wailing we haven’t really heard from him since ‘Carry On’ or ‘Everybody We Love You’). There’s also a neat link to Crosby’s own ‘Delta’, with music moving ‘both shallow and deep’, and Crosby’s favourite cover of the 70s, Joni Mitchell’s ‘For Free’ (about a busker playing his heart out despite having no audience). But compared to ‘Distances’ or ‘Melody’ this song’s inclusion here sounds like a rare mistake and evidence of how little trust Stills and Nash had in their colleagues at the time.

The album then ends with the title track [47b] 'Daylight Again', a thrilling ride through Civil War America and how little has changed in the years since then. As we said earlier, this song was originally much longer and although this version is still close to perfection we fans wait with baited breath to hear one of Stills’ original extended versions of it. (Luckily fans did write down some of the missing words: ‘They didn’t know what else to do, so they fought the men in blue, so they came and so the blood was spilt in the morning dew’ and apparently later verses focussed on ‘musket sword and canon’ wielded by farmers out of their depth, how modern warfare also features ordinary human beings spurred on to become inhuman ruthless killers and how today’s media replay tragedies over and over, de-sensitising us all to what it means to take life from someone). Even without those missing verses, however, there is much to enjoy: this song’s sombre mood is a surprise for CSN in this period and Stills doesn’t shy away from telling his audience home truths (the song segues from history to present with the glorious line ‘when everyone’s talking and no one is listening, how can we decide?’, as relevant then as now). The daylight that follows Stills modern-day narrator to bed (a line that was left tantalisingly unfinished for several years) wasn’t always there for the heroes he sees in his sleep: not generals or paid soldiers but real human beings, whose gift of life was betrayed by how America turned out. The sound is enhanced by a thrilling acoustic arrangement that keeps our ears firmly on the lyrics and the wondrous harmonies from Stills, Nash and a guesting Art Garfunkel (invited to overdub Art’s sterling work  at a later session when the album became a three-way project Crosby refused, even in his bad ways sensing how amazing Art’s ‘middle harmony’ is here, possibly the best Garfunkel performance not on a Simon and Garfunkel album). There’s then a wonderful coda played on a banjo with a stark monochrome version of the ‘Find The Cost Of Freedom’ B-side that CSNY fans had been enjoying since 1970. Senselessly cut from the ‘Easy Rider’ film soundtrack (where it would have accompanied the shocking end of the hippie being shot by the policeman), CSNY regularly used it as the last encore, twining their three guitars sombrely round each other in a game of cat-and-mouse. It’s the perfect closing to any song, even if it cuts the usual reprise from the song (singing the four lines over again to ram the point here). As serious as any song in the CSN canon, this is a marvellous piece of work and Stills, who grew up in a military household and knew his facts about the civil war well, does the period proud with his lyrics. The only thing missing is a proper Crosby harmony (he is there but, by his own admission, with a ‘sneaky’ part you can’t really hear). As quite possibly the last song CSN might have released in their lifetime, it’s a brave, poignant and moving way to go out, with Stills at his absolute best.

Overall, then, this album has given us much more to think about than your usual album from 1982. There are certainly songs here very much the equal of CSN’s best and even if this album sacrifices their hallmark consistency at times on the hard-going second side there’s still enough reasons to celebrate if you finally manage to track down a copy of one of their rarer records. I was thrilled to own ‘Daylight Again’ all those years ago when I first owned it, just as thrilled to own it on CD at last and even if I don’t have every track from this album currently on my mp3 player I still get a warm glow from the eight tracks I do play regularly. Of course, it would have been better still had Crosby been fully involved, with or without the tracks from his solo albums, but considering the circumstances all those people filling in for him did a great job. And if Stills and Nash could only add one of their partner’s songs from the period then ‘Delta’ is definitely the one. Rolling Stone called this album the trios’ ‘haziest, moist opaque record’, presumably referring to the often distant mixes and the occasional drug-fuelled haze you can hear at times on the record. Songwise, however, this is – more often than not – CSN at their spikiest, most naked and vulnerable and straightforward album, both on the songs of doomed romance and the songs about Crosby’s decline. Sometimes the darkness wins out in the songs, sometimes it’s the light, but always these songs sound honest and for anyone still going in the dark and artificial 1980s that’s something in itself to applaud right there. The real pity about this LP is that – again, despite the warning on ‘Wasted On The Way’ – it would take another six years to make another.

A Now Complete List Of CSN/Y and Solo Articles Available To Read At Alan’s Album Archives:

'Crosby, Stills and Nash' (1969)

'Deja Vu' (CSNY) (1970)

‘Stephen Stills’ (1970)

'If Only I Could Remember My Name' (Crosby) (1971)

'Songs For Beginners' (Nash) (1971)

'Stephen Stills II' (1971)
‘Graham Nash, David Crosby’ (1972)

'Stephen Stills-Manassas'  (1972)

'Wild Tales' (Nash) (1973)
'Down The Road' (Stephen Stills/Manassas) (1973)

'Stills' (1975)

'Wind On The Water' (Crosby-Nash) (1975)
'Illegal Stills' (Stills) (1976)
'Whistling Down The Wire' (Crosby-Nash) (1976)

'Long May You Run' (Stills-Young) (1976)

'CSN' (1977)
'Thoroughfare Gap' (Stills) (1978)
'Earth and Sky' (Nash) (1980)

'Daylight Again' (CSN) (1982)
'Right By You' (Stills) (1984)
'Innocent Eyes' (Nash) (1986)
'American Dream' (CSNY) (1988)

'Oh Yes I Can!' (Crosby) (1989)

'Live It Up!' (CSN)  (1989)

'Stephen Stills Alone' (1991)

'CPR' (Crosby Band) (1998)

‘So Like Gravity (CPR, 2001)

‘Songs For Survivors’ (2002)

'Deja Vu Live' (CD) (2008)

'Deja Vu Live' (DVD) (2008)

'Reflections' (Graham Nash Box Set) (2009)

'Demos' (CSN) (2009)

'Manassas: Pieces' (2010)

‘Carry On’ (Stephen Stills Box Set) (2013)

'Croz' (Crosby) (2014)
'CSNY 74' (Recorded 1974 Released 2014)

'This Path Tonight' (Nash) (2016)

‘Here If You Listen’ (Crosby)

The Best Unreleased CSNY Recordings
Surviving TV Appearances (1969-2009)
Non-Album Recordings (1962-2009)
Live/Compilation/Rarities Albums Part One (1964-1980)
Live/Compilations/Rarities Albums Part Two (1982-2012)
Essay: The Superest Of Super Groups?
Five Landmark Concerts and Three Key Cover Versions

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