Monday, 6 April 2015

Crosby Stills Nash and (sometimes) Young: Non-Album Recordings 1962-2009




Non-Album Recordings #1a: 1962
The earliest surviving CSN recording - beating first Hollies single 'Ain't That Just Like Me?' by a year - is that of a just-turned-20-year-old Stills taking time from his studies at Louisiana State University (where he was taking English) to record a song for nationwide public broadcaster service 'Voice Of America' when they came to his campus looking for singers. Stills is already confident enough to record one of his own songs, [1a] 'Travelin', a track which sounds like a traditional folk tune and starts Stills' career obsession with having his characters lots down dusty roads and looking for directions. For now he sounds just like every other earnest folkie, singing in a higher and rather stylized voice that will suit him well during his days in folk troupe 'The Au Go Go Singers' (and not a million miles away from Crosby's earliest days as a folk singer covering 'Willie Jean' and recording his early song 'Everybody Has Been Burned' in 1963 under the watchful eye of manager Jim Dickson a year before forming The Jet Set, soon to morph into The Byrds; we've elected to cover those songs in our 'Byrds' book given that to date their only official release has been as part of the group archival recordings set 'The Preflyte Session's, 2001). Stills copes well for what must have been a nerve-wracking experience and while this song isn't a lost masterpiece it does show that the talent was already burning bright a full four years before his first recordings with The Springfield. How no one snapped this boy up back then I'll never know. Find it on: the Stills set 'Carry On' (2013)
Non-Album Recordings #1 1968
A) David Crosby recorded his gorgeous demo of his gorgeous [13a] 'Guinevere' during his 'missing months' of early 1968 in between getting fired from The Byrds and partnering up properly with Stephen Stills. His one long song from this period (compare to the more prolific Stills' whole tape of unheard songs - the 'Just Roll Tape') makes up in quality what he lacked in quantity. While the song is obviously missing those gorgeous full CSN harmonies, many multiple Crosbys sound every bit as sumptuous and enticing and add a lovely sleepy feel to this usually more dramatic song. This version benefits to from a marvellous fat line from the Jefferson Airplane's Jack Casady that adds a real bite and even more of a jazz kick to proceedings than usual. Like many of these early CSN demos, I'd never claim it was up to the finished product but it's fascinating in hindsight to see how much of the 'magic' is there on tape even before CSN have started working together properly. Find two so-similar-they're-twins mixes on  the 'CSN' box set (1991)  and Crosby box set 'Voyage' (2006)
B) Stretched out to a mesmeric five-and-a-half minutes, the original Crosby demo for [14a] 'Triad' is quite, quite different to the poppier three-minute version The Byrds got and much more like Crosby's solo spot on 'Four Way Street' will be. This version is just as slow but rather more together, Crosby drifting his way through the song and punctuating all of his partner's sudden 'should we be doing this?' looks with a ringing guitar sound that stops the song mid-track. Crosby's mischievous aren't about a threesome as many fans assume but about a love triangle that Crosby doesn't want to break: why should he restrict himself to just one lover when he genuinely loves two women and neither of them mind it? A typical piece of Crosby society-bashing, then, but this song is smarter and more poetic than many others, Crosby imagining the 'ghost' of his mother symbolising the parental generation tut-tutting at his shoulder ('her face like ice, a little bit colder') and yet so sensible are Crosby's points here that you end up agreeing with him by the end (Crosby did indeed have several girls on the go at the time, although noticeably he drops this popular song from his setlist once Christine Hinton dies in 1970 and he effectively realises in retrospect that she was 'the one'). One of Crosby's better demos. Find it on: the Crosby 2006 box set 'Voyage'
C) Stills' demo for [15a] 'You Don't Have To Cry' is fragmentary, suggesting it's one of the earliest CSN demos we have (however it's also conspicuous by its absence from his 'Just Roll Tape' set recorded earlier in the year, suggesting it was a brand new song when Crosby and Stills met Nash at that party - wherever it was). Folkier and closer in style to his fingerpicking 'Know You Got To Run'  than the finished poppier version, it already sounds like a great song, turning from a reluctant, groping verse into the full bloom of the triumphant chorus. Stills sounds great on this version too even if you miss the CSN harmonies, making it one of the better finds on the 'CSN 'Demos' set. Find it on: 'CSN 'Demos' (2009).
D) 'Another man took your hand...and said let's go!' One of the most surprising finds on the Stills box set 'Carry On' was an even earlier demo of [16a] '49 Reasons' (missing the 'Bye Bye Baby' ending which turned it into '49 Bye Byes') than the celebrated bootleg one featuring Crosby throughout (although that still sounds like him to me at times whatever the credits say). On this version, taped the same month as the final Buffalo Springfield concert in July 1968, Stills plays everything: most strikingly lashings of backwards wah-wah guitar (an effect only minimally on the final product) as well as piano, bass, organ and drums (Stills hasn't met Dallas Taylor just yet). The song sounds a little unsteady on it's feet but is taking shape nicely, with only subtle variations from the finished product (well, apart from the whole missing second, obviously). There are bits and pieces that sound as if they date from another era, though, such as the 'let's go' remark above which suggest that Stephen was still writing with his poppier Springfield mindset here. The result is an exciting find, proof both of how talented Stills was even without anyone else in the room and how gloriously Crosby, Nash and Dallas Taylor between them developed the song before final release. Find it on: Stills box set 'Carry On' (2013)
E) Meanwhile, Nash is in the final days of The Hollies, demo-ing songs that he knows the band will never accept. CSN didn't accept his folky [17a] 'Right Between The Eyes' either, bumping it from the album in favour of last minute Nash compositions 'Lady Of The Islands' and 'Pre-Road Downs', but the song remained a concert favourite for many years, most notably being heard as part of 'Four Way Street', the CSNY live set of 1971. Funnily enough, though, I've always thought of this song as more of a 'Hollie' song - it's at one with tunes like 'Clown' ('For Certain Because' 1966) and 'Stop Right There' ('Evolution' 1967) that were very much about Nash breaking up with first wife Rose and hating the suffocation of being in a 'pop' group, Nash perhaps urging himself to dig behind his 'mask' and meet his inner feelings head on ('A man's a man who looks a man right between the eyes'). Nash won't need such hard-talk once he joins CSN, a group who thrive on telling each other the truth - sometimes more often than they should and this song, though a nice bonus as an unreleased track, always seemed a little like an anachronistic relic. It's a nice lost anachronistic relic, though, with an 'upright' tune and an unusually serious set of lyrics. The demo version from Nash's 'Reflections' box set isn't far removed from the more famous 'Four Way Street' version actually, lacking just Crosby's velvety harmony and 'accidental' interruption over the intro! Find it on: 'Reflectiuons' (Nash box set, 2009)
F) [18a] 'Marrakesh Express' was first intended for The Hollies and was probably first demoed by Nash solo, but the version on 'CSN' demos features Crosby's harmony vocal prominently, suggesting this was a second version from a fair bit later. The pair certainly seem to know the song well, Crosby delighting in doing his bit as a platform announcer ('All aboard the train!) and bouncing off each other well (this version is very similar to how the pair played it in concert as opposed to the version on the first album - is this perhaps a bit of a 'cheat' and taken from rehearsals from that tour? Compare to the pair's first joint performance of it during the BBC's 1970 'In Concert' show where it's virtually identical). What comes over most is how jolly this song is: the finished record is an exuberant song by anyone's standards but here particularly Crosby and Nash sound as if they're having a ball together. Joyous. Find it on: CSN's 'Demos 1968-72' (2009)
G) No demo shows just how much CSN brought out of each other than the long-rumoured demo for Crosby's classic [19a] 'Long Time Gone', one of the first things taped in 1968. As written and planned by Crosby it's a turbulent angular blues song, similar in feel to his 'angrier' Byrds songs like 'Psychodrama City' ('Never Before' 1987) and the cover of 'Hey Joe' ('Fifth Dimension' 1966). Crosby doesn't so much sing as sneer, while sticking rigidly to the same churning riff that never has the space to fly. In short, it sounds not unlike the dreaded Tom Jones recording of the song (as seen on his show and backed by an increasingly hysterical CSNY), done for cleverness and point-scoring not heart. What Stills did was to take the song, with Crosby's blessing, and 'fiddle' around with it, coming up with the pulsating organ part and the way the guitars growl a warning rather than point an accusatory finger as here (an effect that soon gets wearing), freeing Crosby's vocal part up with the space for David to pour his heart out. To be totally honest this 1968 recording, made before Nash even joined the band (though you wouldn't know it - even Stills only sings one brief harmony vocal on this version, suggesting the pair were still toying with two solo albums-with-help rather than a full-on collaboration here) is awful, lacking the distinctive harmonies, tension and power of CSN even at their worst and perhaps the most miserable excuse for a recording in this whole book. But fans have to hear it, just to see how a second pair of eyes saw something in this song that Crosby himself couldn't see and how adaptable and fresh to ideas the whole trio were back in 1969. Somewhere along the line a terrible ghastly song gets turned into the work of genius - and there can be no more thrilling change between an outtake and a finished product than that. Find it on: the Crosby box set 'Voyage' (2006)Non-Album Recordings #2 1969
A) The first ever 'proper' recording to feature Crosby Stills and Nash together was - rather aptly - the first song they ever sang together, [15c] 'You Don't Have To Cry' . Recalling the event years later Nash recorded it as 'beautiful - if a little fast', claiming that they were both nervous and pumped full of adrenalin. He's right: compared to the album versions' beautiful tortoise, this is a hare rushing headlong into goodness knows what and leaving the band rather breathless, although conversely that rather suits this song about trying to break away from a clock-watching city way of living ('You can argue right or wrong but I have time to cry my baby!') What doesn't work quite as well is the very different guitar ideas Stills has for the song. He sounds afraid to leave the song as a bare and basic acoustic track so he adds everything he can find, including some very Springfield-style echoed guitar that bounced from the left to the right channels apace, alongside some lightly rattled Dallas Taylor drums. The magic is already in the room - CSN might not be quite as tight on this version but still have an almost supernatural blend already - but not quite down on tape. Still, a fascinating moment of musical history and what box sets like the superlative CSN one were made for. Find it on: the CSN box set (1991) and compilation 'Carry On' (1991)
B) Only CSN could kick-start a four disc box set with an unreleased alternate version - and for that alternate version to sound fabulous. [10c] 'Suite: Judy Blue Eyes' is staggering in any version but particularly this one, which is both better recorded and slightly tighter than the finished version. In truth the arrangement isn't all that different (there's just a few subtle differences like less sound of Stills whacking his guitar during the middle, slightly heavier drumming from Dallas Taylor, a slightly new vocal line on Stills' 'Tear in yourself' section and a few slight alterations using echo on the voices, which is less psychedelic on this version). While not actually faster when played side by side (ah the things I do for Alan's Album Archives!), this alternate version sounds as if it is, thanks to the extra emphasis on rhythm and a bit of extra guitar-work from Stills on electric, dubbed discreetly in the bottom of the mix. The harmonies are exceptional, CSN navigating Stills' tricky song with aplomb (Nash, awed by what they've just done, adds an involuntary 'beautiful!' after the 'ruby throated sparrow' section and I can't say I blame him; even compared to the finished version this is sublime!) So good is this version you wonder why the trio went to so much trouble re-recording it (especially as it 'sounds' so much better - admittedly it's a 1990 mix using better technology but even in the 21st century no one seems to be able to re-mix the first album as well as this), but then CSN in 1969 had energy and enthusiasm to spare. Find it on: 'CSN' (box set 1991) and 'Carry On' (two-disc reduction of the box set, also 1991)
C) I can't wait for CSN to release an entire album of Crosby demos. Reduced to their basics, the released demos of songs like 'Guinevere' and 'Deja Vu' sound even more mesmerising than the finished products, stranger and more other-worldly before everybody else's contributions were added on top. [22a] 'Games' is perhaps the 'one that got away' the most from the demo, recorded here astonishingly early (three years before the finished version on 'Graham Nash, David Crosby') and probably written even earlier (the copyright date is 1968, dating this to the post-Byrds pre-CSN period alongside 'Guinevere'). The finished version is similarly acoustic but builds to the point where it's positively operatic by the end, more than nice enough in its own way but this delightful demo passes on all the possible distractions and simply delights in the space of one of Crosby's prettier melodies and more poetic lyrics. David's voice doesn't sing, it purrs and his acoustic guitar playing is pretty spectacular too. One of the highlights of the 'buried treasure' disc from... Find it on: David Crosby box set 'Voyage' (2006)
D) Crosby's demo for the future title track of [23a] 'Deja Vu' is already 90% of the way to glory, Crosby and Nash navigating his unusual and groundbreaking chord structure with, if anything even more aplomb than the finished version. The only thing lacking is the odd group harmony, John Sebastian's harmonica and the slightly rockier section where the electric guitars finally kick in. The piece's mood of spooky ambiguity is already here, though, with Crosby and Nash clearly revelling in each other's company. This version does sound as if we know it all before, but the impressive thing is just how much like this song's future incarnation it really is. Find it on the Crosby box set 'Voyage' (2006) and CSN set 'Demos' (2009)
E) Back in the early days of recording the CSN album they'd had half a mind of getting it released on the Beatles' label Apple, going so far as to set up a meet8ing with George Harrison that came to nothing. The cover of [24] 'Blackbird' - taped during the first album sessions and a live regular, though not heard on record until the box set in 1991 - sounds like CSN casting around for a CSN-ish Beatles song they might impress their new bosses with. 'Blackbird' as it turns out is a better fit than they could ever have expected: it wasn't until the 1990s that Paul McCartney finally revealed that he'd written it, not about a blackbird, but about a civil rights protestor 'taking broken wings' and 'learning to fly'. That instantly makes it the sort of thing CSN would do, although performance here is unusually wooden and 'proper'  (Stills' militaristic discipline coming through on the speech at the start: 'we'll do it once more and we'll go all the through and get it all right. Right?...') It's also rather slow, with McCartney's wonderfully pinging guitar work strangely passed over by Stills (who was pretty good at this sort of thing, as 'Suite: Judy Blue Eyes' attests). Later live versions by CSN  are much more fun, with a spark and wit this early version really doesn't have. You can almost hear George listening to this song (and most likely already cross the trio haven't bothered learning one of his songs: CSN would have done a fabulous 'Here Comes The Sun' or 'Long Long Long'!) getting bored and glancing at his watch. One other thing to note: whose the mysterious 'Arnie!' who crashes through the studio door after the trio have finished singing and greeted by Nash like a long lost friend? None of my sources (well, the internet: that's a source) seem to have anyone named Arnold connected to CSN at this time.  Find it on: 'CSN' (box set, 1991).
F) [25] 'Who Ran Away?' is an unusually poppy 'Deja Vu' era outtake that turned up without comment or backstory on Stills' box set 'Carry On'. The song must surely be another tale of Stills' on-off affair with Judy Collins, dealing with a character who blows hot and cold. However this song is a tad ordinary by Stills' standards, sounding a little anonymous compared to 'Suite: Judy Blue Eyes' and other songs about Collins. The backing track is a final return to the poppier Latin style used with the Buffalo Springfield and sounds not unlike 'Uno Mundo'. Modern ears would probably be able to hear Ricky Martin doing this song while dancing the vida loca - which sadly shows how ordinary the song is by Stills' standards! Find it on: Stephen Stills box set 'Carry On' (2012)
G) The CSN Atlantic CD re-issue series of 2006 sadly only lasted two albums, the debut album (on something like it's seventh re-release in 20 years) and the more obscure 'Daylight Again'. The goodies on 'Crosby, Stills and Nash' this time around included some lovely demos taped shortly after the album was made, back before Neil Young joined the band and the trio were still speaking to each other. The best of these is surely Stills' delightfully folky [26a] 'Do For The Others', which sounds all the better for some golden Crosby/Nash harmonies on a song that must have been uncomfortable for them to sing (not to spoil the party for when you get to the review of the finished version on 'Stephen Stills' but it was written about Crosby as a song of support after the death of his girlfriend Christine). This version is even closer to folk than the Stills solo track, taken at a faster lick and with only Stills' acoustic guitar for comfort. It's a fascinating glimpse into what that second record might have sounded like without the need to have electric songs for a touring band to play, darker and sadder than the first record, like the resulting 'Deja Vu' album, but maintaining the beauty of the first LP. Presumably this song was still in the running for 'Deja Vu' until the others heard and fell in love with Stills' similar sounding '4+20' from slightly later in the year. Find it on: the CD re-issue of 'Crosby, Stills and Nash' (2006)
H) One of Nash's better loved songs, the Crosby-Nash acoustic demo of [27a] 'Teach Your Children' sounds charming but somehow less substantial without Stills' country-tinged re-arrangement added at a later date. This version is folkier, more like the future live versions of the song will be, with an extended ending with Nash shrieking 'and know they love you!' like a gospel singer. The song is clearly still fresh, with Nash asking Crosby at the start if he can 'remember the words' - Crosby is his typical word-perfect self as it happens. The joy isn't with this as a performance so much (the chords are basic, the tempo sluggish, the performance tentative) but the joy of hearing a song Crosby and Nash will perform together more than perhaps any other for the very first time. 'It sounded ok' Nash quips. True - but it will sound glorious pretty soon. Find it on: bizarrely, the CD re-issue of 'Crosby, Stills and Nash' (not 'Deja Vu'!)
I) One of Stills' all-time favourite songs was Freddy Neil's witty [28a] 'Everybody's Talkin' aka 'Everybody's Talkin' At Me', a song that suits both his deep growl and intensity and his all-or-nothing personality ('I can't hear a word they say!' is the next line). He re-recorded it several times, including here in demo form in 1969 shortly after the first album sessions where Nash invites him to sing it (so he's clearly been doing it for a while) and both he and Crosby add some lovely harmonies to the second and third verses. While this version didn't come out till as late as 2008, Stills often revived it for his concert shows, including a bare-bones version for 'Stephen Stills Live' in 1975 and a similar studio re-recording for all-acoustic album 'Stills Alone' in 1991. This version is clearly the 'one', however, thanks to some natty guitar picking and Crosby-Nash's contribution. Find it on: the 2006 CD re-issue of  first album 'Crosby, Stills and Nash'
J) Crosby's solo demo for one of his better known songs [29a] 'Almost Cut My Hair' couldn't be more different to the fiery angry rant of the 'Déjà Vu' version. This one is a slow moody acoustic song with distinct blues overtones, with Crosby already turning in a powerful vocal performance. Less direct than the finished product and with a rather rambling instrumental section in the middle, this song is going for smoky contained power rather than all-out rant. Find it on: David Crosby box set 'Voyage' (2006)Non-Album Recordings #3 1970
A) [46]  'Ohio' is the song I always used to play people whenever they asked why CSNY were such an obsession of mine. It demonstrates everything that made the band great: entranching melodies, enriching harmonies, superb musicianship - and the guts to speak their mind during a time when speaking your mind could get you killed. Written by Neil the day after Richard Nixon ordered the first shootings of civilian protestors on American soil since the American Revolution (theirs was a peaceful demonstration against the Vietnam War held at a university, so were only really preaching to like-minded souls anyway), it was recorded the next day (a scattered CSNY all dropping what they were doing to meet up and record it) and out in the shops within the week - quicker than some magazines. The best example of Neil's 'first thought, best thought' motto held throughout most of his working life, you can still feel the rage and anger dripping through the song. Even at their most political there's usually something 'fun' about CSNY (even 'Long Time Gone' has a hopeful middle eight and a twinkling organ part) but not 'Ohio': it's the most deadly serious song in their canon. You can tell the band are moved to tears and Crosby has something of a nervous breakdown over the fade-out, howling 'Four?...How?...Why?...How many more?!' that shows just how affected the quartet were over the shooting of 'their own'. I've always been amazed that more wasn't made about this event (by anyone other than CSNY) because it really drew a line in the sand from Nixon being a bit old school and un-hip and being intrinsically evil (or at least paranoid to shoot anyone who disgreed with 'his' idea of democracy). While everyone else ummed and ahhed and made excuses (not till 'Watergate' was dissing the president something Americans did as a matter of course), CSNY absolutely drew the line, naming names and shaming shames: 'Tin soldiers and Nixon's coming, we're finally on our own...' Neil's vocal is one of his best, so cross he sounds as if he's about to punch someone; CSN are the perfect backing band, as ragged as they'd ever been u[p to that point while the backing is superb: the way the whole record lifts during Neil's passionate solo to the point where it feels as if it's flying, only to thud back to earth with a crash, would be tremendously affecting on its own even without the words. It's the opening rush that still hits me every time though, especially when this song comes on after something else: Neil plays his sad head-hanging riff before the band join in  by one, like a bank of protestors piling in behind the head marcher, with Stills upping the tension and accelerating off to goodness knows where, hinting at all the sadness and anger only just concealed behind Neil's gentlemanly vocal and guitar part. You can tell that all the band pull together on this one like never before, forgetting their differences in their desperation to tell the story (Nash even ordered Atlantic to pull 'Teach Your Children' - inevitably heading into the top three that week - so that fans wouldn't get confused and would only have the one single to buy), despite the fact that the writer is Canadian and one of the four an Englishman. That makes no difference though: this is CSNY at their absolute best, giving a voice to those who don't have one and standing up, articulately, for a whole generation of peaceful protestors outraged at the actions of their elders who seemed convinced that violence was the only answer. While only barely containing it's own violence, 'Ohio' is a special song, one that made people feel that at least somebody out there noticed and was speaking up for  'the truth' (most of the papers of the times stuck up for Nixon and claimed the un-armed teenagers were a 'threat' to America' stability- yeah and the guy who orders soldiers to shoot on sight isn't?!) What a shame, then, that this is CSNY's last great moment as a four-piece before the split, with just one posthumous live record and two patchy reunion albums to come. CSNY were never braver, stronger, more powerful or more important than they were here. Find it on: all good CS compilations including 'So Far' (1974), 'Greatest Hits**' (2006), 'CSN' (box set, 1991) and Neil's solo compilation 'Decade' (1977).
B) Needing a B-side in a hurry, Stills offered his song [47a] 'Find The Cost Of Freedom' which had been doing the rounds for a couple of years. An unfinished track submitted to the 'Easy Rider' film, it would have been the perfect accompaniment to the end scene where the hippies are shot off their motorbikes. The 'finished' version (improvised at a Manassas concert in 19723 - which unbelievably exists and should get a release right away - before being pared back to become the equally superb title track of CSN's 1982 LP 'Daylight Again') is more about the American Revolution: of brother fighting brother 'with muskets and claws'. However Stills is too clever a writer to tie his statement of the inevitability of death to one event and the one stark verse that exists here is a neat coda to 'Ohio', dealing not with finger-pointing and flag waving but the sad death of those who went too young. Re-writing the biblical tale of 'ashes to ashes, dust to dust' a full decade before David Bowie mangled the sentiment, the one verse is powerful even by Stills standards, with a directness mingled with philsophy that's among his better lines and powerful stuff when first spoken in a whisper and then yelled with a scream. CSNY's voices are spookily together, almost joined, horror and grief uniting them as never before (the full lines on this version: 'Find the cost of freedom buried in the ground, Mother Earth will swallow you - lay your burden down'). The opening is quite magical too, with Young playing the main tune frill-less on the right channel while Stills rises from the ashes like a phoenix on the right, worrying his way all over his partner's phrases as if searching for answers he can never find. The end result is one of CSNY's most bare-bones recordings but all the more powerful for it and the ultimate accompaniment to Ohio's specifically time-centred moment, suggesting that 'we have all been here before' and have to stop, now, in the name of humanity and peace. Find it on: 'So Far' (1974), 'CSN' (box set, 1991) and the full version on 'Daylight Again' (1982).
C) The full unedited nine minute take of [29c] 'Almost Cut My Hair' is more of CSNY at their best. Opening with a false start that's a tad too slow and features first Stills, then Crosby, then Young grinding to a halt, Crosby re-counts them in for the take that ended up on the 'Deja Vu' album that explodes out of nowhere. The 'new' part of the song starts at around the 5:30 mark (the original simply fades at this point) and continues the excellent jamming session going on between the three guitarists, all chomping at the bit to have their say (if you're wondering where Nash is, he's holding the track together on organ). Neil starts up with a typically turbulent solo, before the quartet all mutually slow things down and Stills starts up one of his typically bluesy low runs to fill up the space. This then inspires Neil to join in and the rest of the band to swell up to absolute mayhem. The result is one of the mothers of all jam sessions by anyone anywhere, a world away from the Springfield's last attempt (on Stills' original seven minute version of 'Bluebird', something that only came out by accident on a compilation LP in 1973) and better even than CSNY's in-concert jams (as heard on 'Four Way Street'). While using this full recording would have unbalanced 'Deja Vu' terribly, it's a great shame this full length- version couldn't be used: the tension and drama doesn't lessen for a single second and even after the song has collapsed nobody wants to go home, with Dallas Taylor still keen to re-kick the song back in with a roll around his drum-kit. Do track it down and listen to it if you can and are already in love with the original. I feel as if we owe it to someone! Find it on: 'CSN' (box set, 1991)
D) Still worried about what they might sound like with Neil added to their established sound, CSN took things gently during the second half of 1969. The first song recorded by the full CSNY quartet wasn't a classic rock song, an elaborate prog rocker or even a simple acoustic but a re-make of a song already out on the first album.  [11c] 'Helplessly Hoping' is re-cut with oodles of lovely guitarwork and a 'live' feel quite at odds with the polished precision of the original. It's nice, though, Neil keen to add his signature sound without getting in the way and Dallas Taylor adding a nice ba-boom-chick drum part that keeps the song rattling onward. You can understand why CSNY never released this version of the song at the time - the original is far superior and this was solely an experiment they probably never played back more than once - but what's odd is that CSN/Y never returned to this arrangement in live concert as with a bit of work 'Hoping' could have sounded every bit as good done like this. The love in this song isn't lying, it's in every loose guitar lick that lingers. Find it on: 'CSN' (box set, 1991)
E) [48] 'Horses Through A Rainstorm' (Man With No Expressions)' was a 1968 vintage Graham Nash song first submitted to The Hollies when they asked for something a bit 'poppier' then the psychedelic gems Nash had been creating throughout 1967. Still eager to please, Nash even brought in a new collaborator to keep on the straight and narrow: his new protégé Terry Reid (whose first album he produced in 1968 - he wasn't yet the writer of the elongated murky swampy blues he's best known for; much of his first self-titled album sounds like this** seed full of memory nash produced?) The Hollies had a go at it during one of Nash's final sessions with the band but like a lot of Nash's 1968 material it stayed in the vaults when he left the band to become an American. That's a shame because their version (given the original title 'Man With No Expressions') was right up their street: Fun, catchy, light, enticing and with a neat message about no one ever being quite able to understand the people around them completely. (The Hollies version was released first in Germany as part of the excellent retrospective '30th anniversary' in 1963, which sadly we never got, although the track did appear on their 2003 box set 'Long Road Home'). The song suits CSN less well (Nash's comment in the box set sleevenotes about it 'smacking a little too much of the pop prisons we'd all just escaped from' is spot on) but they still do a good job, with Crosby especially doing the little twinkly high parts he always used to do with the Byrds (but never really bothered with for CSNY). Revived during the interminable sessions for 'Deja Vu' (and possibly knocked out of the track listing at the last minute when Stills came up with 'Carry On'), it was probably a right decision to dump it in 1970, but it made for a fascinating listen in 1991 when the world first heard it. The opening snatched conversation also appears to be where Crosby's line about '...proceeding to tangle the entire area..' heard before 'Almost Cut My Hair' on the original 'Deja Vu' album came from. Find it on: 'CSN' (box set, 1991).
F) Crosby's delightful [49a] 'The Lee Shore' used to be regarded as the most famous CSNY outtake. For starters, it's the one that fans knew best, a regular in CSN's set lists (a live solo version first appeared on 'Four Way Street' in 1971). An early example of Crosby singing about the healing properties of the sea, this nautical but nice song features Crosby at his most blissfully serene and content. If in truth the song turns into a little bit of a 'what I did on my holidays' song by the middle (sounding like one of those essays about sailing Arthur Ransome used to write in between Russian polemics and children's books - actually that's not a bad summation of Crosby's work too!), it's a hauntingly beautiful song that lesser bands would have turned into the hit single, not booted off an LP when it was found to be under-running. Recorded by the full quartet for 'Deja Vu' (making it one of only four songs to feature all of CSNY in the same room playing live), Nash turns in some typically excellent harmony work while Stills and Young bounce off each other nicely (that's Neil talking about his worry of getting 'carried away' when the recording starts - he does indeed!) The song was particularly popular with Stills, himself a sailor ('Southern Cross' is like a slightly sped up version of this song) and for a time when he knew this song was still up for grabs he recorded it himself, loosely intending to record his heavier, electric version on 'Stephen Stills II'. Typically, Stills turns Crosby's laidback bliss into an uptempo exercise for his favourite Latin rhythms although he adds a lovely bluesy guitar part too.  In the end that version didn't appear either until his solo 'Carry On' retrospective of 2012. Find it on: The 'Crosby' version appears on 'CSN' (box set, 1991) and Stills' version appears on his 'Carry On' box set (2012).  
G) There aren't all that many songs tried out by CSNY that went entirely unreleased and unused on their solo or joint work. [50] 'Sea Of Madness' is a rare case of a Neil Young song that fell through the gaps, a surprisingly poppy track that the band never did record in the studio. The version readily available is, ironically, one of the most widely bought records CSNY appeared on: the various artists Woodstock compilation. Only some research done in the 1990s suggest the version performed by CSNY on the album was actually taped a few weeks later at Big Sur (memories - suffering from age and drug fumes - differ as to whether CSNY even featured the song in their set at what was, after all, only their second gig). Nash adds a delightful second vocal (his voice blends with Neil's even more than Stills' does) and Stills turns in a fine, almost gentlemanly guitar solo which almost seems to look down it's nose at the mayhem of the ragged performance around it. However the song is one of Neil's 'cryptic crossword' songs that would have been better suited to Crazy Horse than CSNY (Danny Whitten would have been perfect for both the harder-edged harmony and staccato guitar playing) and seems at odds with their typical 'honesty' and straightforwardness. The song was announced at the occasional gig as 'coming from our next LP', suggesting it was intended for 'Deja Vu' (the same fate announced for other non-shows like 'Bluebird Revisited'), but the band don't ever seem to have taped a proper studio take of the song. That's no great loss in the sense that it's weaker than all the tracks that made the albu, but it's too good a song to have gone unclaimed for the better part of 50 years with a great riff and a fiery performance. Find it on: the Various Artists set 'Woodstock Volume One' (1970)
H) Stills' wonderfully energetic demo for [37b] 'Love The One You're With' is the revelation of the past ten years of CSN collecting. Ragged and less polished than the first version it might be, but this fully acoustic version is tremendously exciting and Stills' vocal purrs with barely contained energy throughout. Light years better than the 'acoustic' version taped on 'Four Way Street', it sounds more like a hit than ever with Stills' paean to free love hypnotically catchy and already full in place (all its missing is the 'doo-doo-doos). Stills open the demo by claiming 'this is a really fun game' - he's not wrong there; I don't know if anyone's sounded as if they're having as much fun as here. Oh to be Stills in 1970, firing on all cylinders, with music pouring through your veins so fast you barely have time to get it all down on tape! Find it on: CSN 'Demos' (2009).
I) Recorded late in 1970, a stark reading of Crosby's [51a] 'Song With No Words (Tree With No Leaves)' was taped with him and Nash sparring off each other, a few months before the 'solo' (ie all-star cast) version that appeared on Crosby's 'If Only I Could Remember My Name'. Nash was rather fond of this eccentric wordless instrumental (the 'Tree With No Leaves' subtitle is his very poetic take on Crosby's composition and sums it's stark bare-bones beauty up well) and excels here even more than the song's composer. The pair's flying-information harmonies are exquisite and almost telepathic here, Nash switching around so that he's never quite doubling or directly harmonising with Crosby anywhere. A 'thankyou' for Crosby's delightful unplanned singing on his own 'Lady Of The Island', it's the biggest proof yet of just how many levels of brotherhood the pair are working on in this period. While perfectly respectable, the re-recorded Crosby version which made the record (basically featuring just him) is a pale replica of what the pair achieved so brilliantly here. Find it on: 'CSN' (box set, 1991).
J) Still unsure what to do with one of his loveliest songs, Stills returned to [2b] 'So Begins The Task' in 1970, recording a second demo to his first in 1968 with a folkier, more laidback flavour that's a stepping stone to the full and final countryfied version recorded another two years later on the first Manassas album. Stills' song sounds magical on any version, but this version doesn't quite have the impact or the passion or the other two. We do get an extra verse though, fitting in between the third and final rather over-wordy verse and not featured on either the first or third version that runs as follows: 'Then perhaps it is I who is trapped by illusion, for the first time in quite a while I doubt myself, all of these words are like any other words, only echoes of shadows within myself'. It doesn't add much to the song but does give Stills another verse to explore his pysche. Find it on: Stephen Stills box set 'Carry On' (2012)
K) Don't be fooled: this may be an early version of it, but [52] 'No Name Jam' was only very briefly a jam and certainly does have a name, although you can see why Stills might be sensitive about releasing a song named 'White Nigger' in today's climate. A highlight of many a CSN bootleg, the 'finished' (but unreleased) version intended for the 'Stephen Stills' LP contains such lines as 'My brother's help me move, bow your head to no man, it's enough to make you shiver, and that's why I guess I figure you can call me a white nigger!' The reasoning behind the bluesy song (and the jam) makes more sense if you know that this was a long-awaited originally full-length collaboration between Stills and his old friend Jimi Hendrix (heard here in an earlier, faster version before Stills re-wrote and re-worked the song to be slower and with words). The pair played together long before anyone knew who they were, a fleeting but important friendship for the young Stills before his ever-restless family moved yet again and the pair lost touch. Legend has it that Stills was readily accepted by the 'black' community for his bluesy ragged voice and that in turn the young Stephen helped open his white friend's eyes to the African-American community in the deep South. Stills is clearly remembering his past here, remembering 'how there's nothing worse than having no friends' before finding a new community where he least expected, 'the minute I let my guitar fly'. Anyone who wants to know what the original wordy version of the song sounded like should look for the Manassas song 'High and Dry' (from 2009's outtakes set 'Pieces') which keeps the sentiments and drama whilst losing the controversial title. However it's a shame that record companies are so squeamish today - while the title would no doubt raise eyebrows (and does when spotted on CSNY bootlegs) in context it makes perfect sense: this is Stills commenting on himself, throwing in his lot with a group of musicians his strict Southern family told him do him no good and finding they're among the most nicely brought up, talented, charismatic people he's ever worked with and how much identification he has with them. In other hands this might have been crass, but you can tell Stills means every word, with his and Jimi's fantastic guitar duel (far better than the released one on 'Old Times Good Times') proof of how sympathetic and indeed similar the two old mates are (it's hard to work out where one ends and the other begins - unlike, say, Neil Young's guitar duels where the differences between the two usually shine out at you).  Find it - well the instrumental 'No Name Jam' version anyway - on the Stills box set 'Carry On' (2013)
L) One of the reasons Neil Young later gave for leaving CSNY was that he'd heard Stills sing a blistering raw first take of [32b]  'Woodstock' and then he and his partners had conspired to re-work it in the studio until it lost all its fizz and fire. This is all a part of Neil's mind set of the time, that after a difficult overdubbed-to-death debut album and a sparkier second record with Crazy Horse he's figured that his 'first through' is his 'best thought' and that he'd rather have the muse with the mud than miss out on the magic (or something like that). Fans have often wondered what that alternate Stills vocal might be like - and to their shock they heard it in 1999 when a 30th anniversary 'Director's Cut' of the film first came out, with 'Woodstock' the song a natural choice for the re-made closing credits (it almost, but not quite, made up for the lack of extra CSNY in the new edition).  The verdict is that Young was right: there's a real power and commitment about Stills' vocal which sounds oh so joyous to be alive - exactly what you need as a celebration of a time and a place on a film revisited three decades on. However you can also see why CSN didn't like it: it's in danger of making Stills look simple rather than joyful at times and is clearly not intended as a 'proper' vocal - it's just the singer having fun. It would have sounded out of place on 'Deja Vu', an album all bout shadows rather than bright sunlight and would have mucked up the order too, coming so soon after Crosby's similar squeals on 'Almost Cut My Hair'. Still, that was then - this is now and a 'proper' CD release would be highly welcome. Find it on: The DVD 'Woodstock - Director's Cut' (1999) or the four disc 2009 edition.
 Non-Album Recordings #4 1971
A) The alternate take of Crosby's fiery [54b] 'Cowboy Movie' is one of those recordings that would sound horrible if you didn't already know the original: the tempo is slower and the bursts of guitar that bit more unrehearsed, so that Neil and Jerry Garcia often clash with Crosby and with each other. However as the chance to hear a legendary recording fall into place it's fascinating: Crosby already knows exactly what he's doing with the vocal and hearing Jerry and Neil play is always a delight - so the chance to hear them play more together is a real treat. However there's no getting away from it: the band are struggling with the riff, which is more awkward and less fluid here, with only Crosby's rhythm part where it should be. There's also an extended jamming session that puts even the version on the album to shame, with an extra two-minute burst of guitar between the last couple of verses. This extends the running time to a full eleven minutes instead of the already pretty lengthy eight. There's no way this is better than the finished version but it's still good to hear. Find it on: 'Voyage' (David Crosby box set 2006).
B) The Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra, as members of the Dead, Airplane and CSNY dubbed themselves, spent a lot of time jamming in between recordings and had the bonus of being able to pay for as much session time as they wanted. Bootlegs reveal an awful lot of acoustic jamming sessions (almost all involving Crosby and some with Nash), some of which were later turned into songs - and some of which should have been. [81] 'Kids and Dogs' is a nice folky acoustic melody Crosby and Garcia came up with one day. The creators clearly took a shine to it: Garcia's appreciative chuckle at the 0:35 mark is exactly the laugh he gave when he was having fun. Crosby too seems to have spent more time on this piece than he did on, say, 'Music Is Love' (another improvised fragment, this time time overdubbed by Nash and Young)  at some stage overdubbed all sorts of gorgeous multi-layered wordless harmonies over the top. This turns the mysteriously titled 'Kids and Dogs' (accompanied in the Crosby set by a picture of him as a kid with the family dog - did the picture come first?) into a dreamy, hopeful, healing balm that Crosby's 'If Only' could have done with and it was a lovely find for fans desperate to hear anything useable from these album sessions. In truth, though, it's not quite as inventive as other wordless Crosby songs ('Tampalpais High' 'Tree With No Leaves' 'I'd Swear There Was Somebody There') and four wordless Crosby instrumentals may well have been one too many. Find it on: the David Crosby box set '#Voyage' (2006) and the CD re-issue of 'If Only I Could Remember My Name'.
C) As we've seen already, Nash's [64b] 'Be Yourself' is a lovely song, but it's a surprise to me that this simple and understated tune seems to have taken on a life of it's own in the past few years or so, to the point where it's many fans' favourite Nash song. This is mainly thanks to the clever use of the demo of the song in the 2009 comedy 'Up In The Air' , which is effectively one of those 'on a journey finding the self' films that had it been made in the 1960s would undoubtedly have featured motorbikes and Dennis Hopper. A parable that says nothing new but does so in a rather gorgeous and spiritual way, you can see why Nash's so-simple-it's-profound song struck a chord with movie-goers. Luckily CSN had a demos album in the works and Nash managed to sneak it out on that, even though the differences between it and the finished version are pretty minimal: basically all that's missing is the power chorus of Rita Coolidge et al on backing harmonies. Find it on: CSN set 'Demos' (2009)
D) Virtually identical to the 'Four Way Street' live version, you dread to think what Joni Mitchell made of her beaux Nash thumping her beloved piano as hard as this when he was writing [69b] 'Chicago'. A paean to the Chicago Seven/Eight put on a mock trial for daring to be rude about Nixon (and jailed not for that - there wasn't any evidence - but for contempt of court until the charges were overthrown), this simple demo still has the taste of injustice in the air and in Nash's lungs as he launches himself into one of his better known protest songs. He stumbles a little on the last verse (so the song is clearly still new), but even so I rather prefer this simplified version to the dressed-up version that ended up on 'Songs For Beginners' later in the year. Oh all except for that curious last comment 'help us make some more', later changed to the almost-as-bad 'throw 'em all out the door', Nash's muse deserting him right at the end. Find it on: CSN set 'Demos' (2009)
E) The first Crosby-Nash session - held at the start of 1971 - ended in dissarray and bad blood between the pair, who wouldn't get back together until the following year. The only song completed was, typically, a Joni Mitchell song (Crosby discovered her in 1968, Nash lived with her between 1969 and 1970). [82] 'Urge For Going' is one of her greatest songs: a poignant reflections on changing seasons and comparing the inevitable changing nature of a relationship to the seasons outside. In a way it's also an update of her other CSN cover 'Woodstock', with Joni reflecting on how the sunshine and happiness and solidarity couldn't last forever (it's like her better name 'Circle Game' but better, strangely relegated solely to a B-side in Joni's own canon). The song must surely have been at least partly about Nash and the switch of personal pronouns (to make the narrator 'male') makes it sound ever more like a conversation between the pair ('She got the urge for going - and had to let her go'). The pair cleverly decide to split up the vocal chores between them: Nash takes the first verse, all frosty and wintery (he added it after the row as a 'sorry' gesture to Crosby and doesn't sound his usual ebullient self, although he could of course just be a great actor!); Crosby takes the second, all light and summery and the pair combine on the final verse (where in one of Joni's most poetic lines the 'Warriors of Winter cast a cold triumphant shout; all that stays is dying - all that lives is getting out'). The result is one of the more interesting period recordings by either men that would have made a nice addition to the under-running 'Graham Nash, David Crosby' album. Find it on: 'CSN' (box set, 1991).   
F) [83a] 'My Love Is A Gentle Thing' was clearly a song close to its composer's heart and one he struggled to get right. The sleevenotes to the CSN box set call this a 'love song' to the Hawaii islands and their healing effects Stills cooled down from a tempestuous 1970 CSNY tour when he hurt his hand and the band broke up the first time round. However it sounds more to me as if there is a 'person' at the heart of this, Stills perhaps taking a leaf out of Nash's 'Lady Of The Island' as he sings to the only person who knows how to reach him and calm him down (my money's on Judy Collins). In total Stills recorded it three times - as a demo for an unspecified project but presumably 'Stephen Stills II' in 1971 (released as 'CSN Demos' in 2009), for Manassas in 1973 (as released - and reviews by us separately - on 'Pieces', also in 2009!) and in 1975 for 'Stills' (as released first, on the CSN box set of 1991). All three versions are similar, acoustic and intimate, though are subtlety different: the 1971 demo is my favourite, a Dylanesque still inner debate where Stills' guitar hops from note to another with restless impatience and there's the addition of a whole rather lovely counter-part dropped from the other versions ('Come to me silence lover, quietness brings us close together, oceans hover, floating love - is there anything else?') The Manassas version and the 1975 recording are very like each other (they may well be different mixes of the same recording, in fact, although that's not what the sleevenotes for either set suggest), with a slightly more polished but still gentle sound of Stills rattling the back of his guitar (as he didn't have any bongos with him!) and plucked bass strings for atmosphere. These versions are more like reggae than folk, with two extra Stillses joining themselves on the choruses. All three are dreamlike, remembering a blissful time before things went wrong in a paradise island, although only the first sounds truly memorable, Stills singing with a 'wasn't-it-all-better-then?' sigh that's more intense and moving than the peaceful bliss of the other two. It's also more developed, at two and a half rather than one a half minutes, not exactly a long lost missing classics but still a perfectly acceptable song that would have sounded nice on the first Manassas set especially (where this song would have nestled onto the third folkier side with songs mainly about loss and heartbreak rather nicely). Find it on: 'CSN Demos' (2009), Manassas 'Pieces' (2009) and the CSN 'Box Set' (1991)
G) Stills returned to [76b] 'Singin' Call' several times down the years suggesting it was one of his favourite songs, although all three versions (recorded between 1971 and 1991) are all remarkably similar (compare to, say, 'Word Game', which sounded different every time he played it). A sweet serenade to nature, this demo lacks the sweet harmonies of the 'Stills I' version or the stark authority of the 'Stills Alone' version but in many ways is the best of the three, combining the best of both worlds. Stills' hasn't yet written the lines about 'weary of the travelling' and simply blocks in the lines with a bluesy moan that's entirely in keeping with the feel and texture of the song. Delightful. Find it on: CSN 'Demos' (2009)
H)The early version of  [84a] 'The Treasure' taped during sessions for 'Stephen Stills II', on the other-hand, couldn't be more different. A smoky double-tracked Stills vocal, some hammy piano and a shortened, compact feel makes this future prog rock jamming highlight of the first Manassas album sound distinctly ordinary. The biggest difference is a curious counter-verse structure that makes the song a little muddled and harder to follow, despite containing some more fascinating insights into Stills' chase of Rita Coolidge (sample lyric: 'When she moves it was a dance, we opened ourselves and I had no chance, and the life fell on another, she was born to discover...the treasure'. The whole piece is missing that vital spark the as-live Manassas take possess however, fading at the four minute mark at the point where the finished versions' seven minuter has only just got going. The difference between the two is that on 'Manassas' Stills sounded like someone who would got to the ends of the earth to retrieve the 'treasure' he knew to be there; by comparison the 1971 model sounds as if he's about to nod off to sleep. Find it on: Stephen Stills box set 'Carry On' (2012)
I) Any lesser writer would have stayed put with [73b] 'Little Miss Bright Eyes', a first stab at what will become 'Sugar Babe'. Harder-edged, with two lots of fuzz guitar, this version is fascinatingly different, with the same theme ('stop playing games Rita Coolidge and marry me!') but a very different way of going about things, with only the stinging 'so close...then again so far away' tag line in place. Some of Stills' alternate lyrics are great and more than deserved to make the final cut: 'I loved her so and gave my soul, I didn't have much else to give her heaven knows, she looked at it once wondering what it could do her...I'm on a train to nowhere and she gonna pay the fare!' , while the line 'she never looked my way' makes more sense of the whole 'Little Miss Bright Eyes' metaphor. I still prefer the finished version, with all it's under-stated beauty and cold hard logic, but I'd have been more than happy had the ever-thinking Stills simply settled for his first idea. Find it on: The Stills box set 'Carry On' (2013)Non-Album Recordings #5 1972
Clearly it's no repeat of 'Ohio', but I have a soft spot for [120] 'War Song', a Neil Young song recorded with Graham Nash and released as a flop single in 1972 (Young fans tend to regard it as a CSNY work and CSNY ones as a solo piece so it's been all but forgotten since; in case you were wondering Neil released 'Sugar Mountain' for the umpteenth time as the B-side and Nash doesn't appear; in protest at this song being airbrushed out from history for so long I'm going to include it in both, so there!) By now the fire in the belly of 'Ohio' has slowed to a dignified waddle, the out and out war between generations reduced to a wary disrespect of Nixon and hope that after an ugly period America will finally have a leader worthy of its constitution. The last political Neil Young song of any kind until 1980 (I'll quietly ignore the improvised 'Goodbye Dick!' if you will), it's so out of kilter for Neil in the 'Harvest/Time Fades Away' period (the Stray Gators are the backing band, as per both projects) and so clearly crying out to be a CSNY song you wonder why all four aren't on it (perhaps Young was still feeling the burn-out from the last reunion, or perhaps he just didn't want the 'fuss' of a full reunion at such a 'low' point in his life and career?) Ostensibly Neil wrote the song 'for' George McGovern's democratic campaign against Nixon in 1972 - one he lost, badly (perhaps that's why this song got lost so quickly?!) However even if Neil failed to move anybody but himself at the time, it's still an extraordinary song, picturing himself as a soldier in Vietnam in a scene that goes all surreal and Dylanesque('In the morning, when you wake up, you got planes flying in the sky, flying bombs, major break-up, of the lines in your eyes') The tune -  a highly pretty one though treated with heavy weight here, like a gloved iron fist -  is not unlike Neil's astonishing vindictive against 9-5 workers everywhere on 'Last Dance' which also starts with the words 'Wake up!' hinting that one morphed into the other. The chorus gets things moving, although weirdly enough most modern listeners who hear the lines 'there's a man who says he can put an end to war' will immediately think of another democrat (Obama's campaign - which CSN raised money for long before most people knew who he was - also used 'yes we can', just in case generations in a century from now need a reminder). The song then veers off sideways into a rant about how 'they shot George Wallace' (Democrat Mayor of Alabama'), though the real assassination attempt took place in Maryland not 'Mirauwakee' as Neil appears to sing here (or is he singing 'he'll never walk again' - if so Neil's diction is terrible!) and left Wallace confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. The anger of the end of that middle eight ('Get in and kill those Vietnamese' when the 'real' dangerous assassin is America's own president and the killers who take shots at world leaders under his watch) is palpable, a crescendo of madness in a weary song so desperate to find a solution. The last rousing verse and chorus put a brave spin on things though: love really is coming to us all because McGovern really will put an end to war and victory is assured just as soon as we vote him in. Showing off his typical ear for arrangements Neil somehow manages to make it so that his lone guitar growl, hurling off snarled insults throughout most of the song, is joined by everyone else by this last verse as if isolated voters without a voice really are coming together. Nash doesn't get a lot to do in truth but you'd miss him if he wasn't there, adding a soft gentlemanly part to Neil's snarling lead throughout the song. Throughout Neil sounds as if he's rather be doing anything but writing and recording another protest song - he thought that job was done and dusted - and the recording has the same world-weary weighty feel of much of his  1972 material (the last few songs for 'Harvest' and the 'Doom Trilogy' to come), but he's still ready for one last knockout fight and the plodding song bares it's teeth nicely across it's three-and-a-half minutes. A song that misses out on the great CSNY irony (the worse the world gets and the more there is to complain about, the 'better' and more alive their songs), this poorly publicised and rather ignored track sounds as if it's been made out of duty rather than hope, a last message from public cryer Neil Young before he throws down his church bell for good.  The result is a quiet triumph: OK it failed at its main objective of beating Nixon in '72 and will never live as long in the memory as 'Ohio', without the same line-drawing and how-dare-you slap in the face politics and far blunter and less eloquent. But Neil had a real knack for writing these sorts of pretty little protest songs and this is one of his most unfairly overlooked songs of the 1970s, senselessly missing from the 1977 'Decade' compilation. A subtle performance and mix, bordering on non-descript (Nash is hard to hear despite his co-billing), suggests that Neil doesn't really want us to hear it - but he should; 'War Song' is one of the more under-rated moments in his canon, an 'I told you so' sung without glee or need for revenge, just sadness and tiredness. Find it on: the Neil Young box set 'Archives' (2009)Non-Album Recordings #6 1973
In 1973 CSNY shocked everyone - including themselves - by reuniting at the end of a Manassas show at San Francisco's Winterland Theatre on October 4th 1973. Typically CSNY they appeared unbilled, both out of humility (they admit they hadn't had much rehearsal time) but also to avoid the spotlight they knew would be thrown on them when they weren't too sure about getting back together again themselves. That Winterland half hour is a marvellous show, though, full of CSNY at their best, all four in very good humour and casually throwing out one great newly written song after another. Hopefully they'll release the show one day - while rougher even than 'Four Way Street' it's the best existing tape of what CSNY meant at their peak and the crowd reception was phenomenal. That good humour carried on in the studio where the band rushed to prepare their next move, banging down a hurried version of a brand new Stills song [141a] 'See The Changes' (curiously not a song they performed that night) before agreeing to go their separate ways for now and come back next year (the reunion lasting for one long epic world tour and half an album - what will become the unfinished 'Human Highway'). Released years later on the box set, this first attempt at Stills' haunting classic is a case of right band wrong song, with a funky rhythm and a fast tempo not really suited to Stills' glorious song of growing older but not necessarily any wiser. Re-recorded for 'CSN' in 1977 in fully acoustic form, this song is a meticulously crafted stunner with some of the best CSN vocals there is - this take is simply too happy, the band too impatient to get going with the art of creating and enjoying each other's company (turn the song up LOUD and you can hear all sorts of things going on in the backgr4ound, from Crosby's delightful laughter at around the 1:30 mark and what sounds like a heated debate at 1:40). Interestingly Neil sings along with the other three - the first real time this had ever happened to a non-Young song and it sounds rather good, adding a brittled edge to the track somewhere between Crosby's and Nash's parts. However a curious 'do you?' tag line at the end of each chorus and an improvised section where a future guitar solo will go sound scrappy by CSNY standards. Presumably the song would have changed a lot had the band chosen to release it on 'Human Highway' (it may even be here that the song developed into a slow ballad for the first time). However even in rough form this take is fascinating - not since the debut album had the band sounded quite this alive and it's fascinating too that Stills should leave this song for so many years and solo albums (it would have suited 1975's 'Stills' particularly well), 'See The Changes' clearly already earmarked as a 'trio' song even back then. Find it on: 'CSN' (Box Set, 1991)Non-Album Recordings #7 1974
A) How ironic, how CSNY, that one of only two/three songs properly recorded for intended 1974 reunion LP 'Human Highway' should be Crosby's gorgeous, [160a] 'Homeward Through The Haze', a typically self-deprecating song about finding thinking you're God only to find out you're a bit of a mess (best line: 'It's 'my first hollow echo in halls of praise'). Later re-recorded as a slightly tighter pop song for Crosby and Nash's 'Wind On The Water' LP, this full quartet version is looser, slower and jazzier, making the most of Crosby's unusual time signatures. Oddly there's less of a 'CSN' sound in the harmonies here than in CN's version, with Crosby mainly singing via the magic of overdubbing with a bit of Nash near the end although there's some great guitar work from Stills, clearly relishing the bluesy mood of the composition (so similar to his own work). I'm not sure I prefer this to the finished version, but it is awfully good and shows again that 'Human Highway' might have been the best CSNY LP of all. Hear it on: 'CSN' (box set, 1991) and David Crosby box set 'Voyage' (2006).
B) A second song salvaged from the 'Human Highway' sessions is Neil's lullaby [161] 'Through My Sails', a song clearly written about the quartet's time in Hawaii. A sleepy, weary song, he later chose to make it the closing track of his reunion with Crazy Horse 'Zuma' where it sounded rather out of place following the harsh history lesson of 'Cortez The Killer'. Like many a Young song, it speaks of love of the countryside over the city (see 1968's 'Neil Young' in particular), Neil standing on the shoreline and feeling that despite his problems 'love takes care'. CSN take a highly unusual vocal line across this song, with Crosby singing Stills' usual part (very deep), Stills taking Nash's part (a delightful falsetto) and Nash singing Crosby's (straight in the middle). Was this a deliberate attempt to do something different or proof that Neil didn't have them in mind originally for the song? The loveliest part of the song is when CSNY split in two, Crosby and Young setting off for a wordless 'ahh' which see-saws across Stills and Nash coming in the opposite direction. The song is certainly lovely and deserves to have been revived by Neil a year later, but it's not as substantial or as emotional as the best CSNY songs. Hear it on: Neil Young album 'Zuma' (1975)Non-Album Recordings #7 1975
Stills' epic acoustic guitar medley [183] 'Crossroads/You Can't Catch Me' was often a highlight of his live shows, showing off just how easily Stills could blend from pure rock and roll to blues and proving once again that there's not that much difference between the two really. Stills' ever busy fingers are the highlight of a song that just won't sit still, finding a riff that between the two that has common ground and switching between the two and back again in a blur of strummed chords and 'Black Queen' style demented blues vocals, Stills at his showboating best. Find it on: 'Stephen Stills Live' (1975)A) Almost unbearably poignant, [203b] 'Taken At All' is Nash's sequel to Stills' 'Change Partners' about his worry over CSNY's direction and their many wasted opportunities over the years, painting 1976 as a crossroads in his life to staying as part of the CSNY family and going solo ('Lost it on the [Human] 'Highway...You were going your way, I was going mine'; Crosby gets a co-credit for adding a few lines to the song). Ironically, it became one of only three songs known for certain to have been completed at these sessions before the quartet split again (they clearly weren't listening to the lyrics!) Interesting this version is slower and sadder than the released version, re-recorded more or less straight away and added to the third Crosby-Nash album 'Whistling Down The Wire', which finds the pair in a much jollier mood (something that's always struck me as odd, given that Nash's bit of fortune-telling had just been proved to be accurate - and in 1976 CSNY seemed 'over' even more than it had in 1974). This lovely song sounds ever more lovely in this version, with Stills, Nash and Young's acoustic guitars all melting into each other as a fine reminder of everything lost over the years. Crosby and Nash take the lead in unison before Stills and Young kick on the chorus, the result being one of the most breathtaking short bursts of harmony the full quartet ever offered (and seemingly proving the message of the song: that the four are better together, if more argumentative too). Stills' falsetto ad lib (a second '...on the way' after Nash's lead) is a prime example of one of the four taking a song by the others and re-shaping it to the benefit of all. Can this road be taken at all? A resounding yes! Delightful and one of the highlights of the 1991 box set (as an added bonus, amazingly the bootleggers hadn't got to this one first!) Find it on: 'CSN' (Box Set, 1991).
To date only two songs have been released featuring the full CSNY harmonies from the 'Long May You Run' album (how did both of them survive Stills slashing them with a razor-blade, then? Is that story apocryphal? Or was he choosy with what he chose to attack that drunken night that CSNY nearly ended for good?) Both sound slightly fuller, as you'd expect from all that extra space, but both are rather woolly suggesting CSN never quite perfected what they wanted for the record (then again, neither did Stills/Young, who both admitted the album was rushed).  [209b] 'Black Coral' survived the better of the two, with Crosby and Nash only joining in at key moments and with a part that sounds properly worked out rather than just 'let's sing it all' (the soaring upward harmonies on the line 'she'll show you glimpses of the stars' is majestic). However all three sound in ropey voice, suggesting that Nash's comments that the songs were 'un-singable' (especially the glorious 'Guardian Angel') may have not been far from the truth after all. Find it on: Stills box set 'Carry On' (2013)Non-Album Recordings #9 1977

A powerful alternate mix of [224b] 'Cold Rain' was included on Nash's 'Reflections' set in 2009 - not normally the sort of thing we'd cover on this site but worth mentioning because this bleak ballad sounds even more lonely and starkly beautiful shorn of the Crosby-Stills harmonies. The result sounds even more like a Lowry painting, with stick figures navigating their way through the rain, as opposed to the stark broad strokes of a master painter trying to equate this solitude with something holy as per the finished product. On this mix Nash really is 'all alone' and the effect is deeply powerful. Find it on: Nash box set 'Reflections' (2009)Non-Album Recordings #11 1979
A) With Atlantic unwilling to finance a solo album and finding himself slightly estranged from Nash, Crosby looked elsewhere to release his long awaited follow-up to 'If Only I Could Remember My Name'. He turned to CBS, mainly because he had half an eye on joining in with the three-way McGuinn-Clark-Hillman reunion taking place on the same label (Crosby appeared with the trio at a couple of their 1978 gigs but never got an invite to join them full-time, a recently born again Christian Roger McGuinn reportedly less than pleased with the state his old sparring partner was in). Undeterred, Crosby ploughed on with his solo record, reputedly getting as far as two-thirds of the way through it before CBS, alarmed at increasing reports in the press about Crosby's ill health and his many publicised motor-bike crashes asked to hear the album. They refused to release it, claiming that the album wasn't what they wanted and that it was too out of touch with the times and refused - although this seems in retrospect like an excuse to drop a difficult client before he embarrassed himself. Crosby's album quickly got the reputation amongst fans for being 'weird' as a result, especially as fans increasingly realised just how sick Crosby was across the 1980s with drug abuse taking an awful toll on what had once been (and thankfully will go on to be) one of the world's brightest, most charismatic, erudite and inspirational stars. However a quick listen to the record this shelved un-named un-loved album became ('Oh Yes I Can!', released in 1989 for A&M Records) reveals an album that if anything is a little too straightforward by Crosby's standards, lacking his distinctive edge in favour of a more commercial sound. In fact Crosby hadn't been as in tune with the times since at least 1970, with a harder-edged sound to his music that sounds like a sort of new wave choral album! (For the record the tracks recorded for the album include 'Distances' as released in 1989, the Craig Doerge cover 'Might As Well Have A Good Time' as overdubbed with Stills/Nash harmonies for 'Daylight Again' in 1982, plus earlier takes of 'Drive My Car' 'Melody' 'Flying Man' 'Delta' and  'Samurai' and possibly 'King Of The Mountain' and 'Kids and Dogs'  as well, first taped in 1974 and 1971 respectively).
This early take of [239a] 'Drive My Car' is particularly interesting, full of verve and fire compared to the finished take whose slick over-production rather robbed it all of the drama. It could be that Crosby, having come out the other side of the mess his life was in, felt simply too alarmed at the intensity of this first version of the song for comfort. The song is about taking control of your life when it's spinning out of control ('At least a car goes where you steer it - sometimes it's the only thing that does'). However even Crosby's love of driving was proving hazardous, following a series of accidents - most likely caused by sleep deprivation from being up all night taking drugs - that almost cost him his life. Here Crosby sounds wired, as if he's been smoking hundreds of cigarettes and guzzling coffee the whole day of the sessions and you can understand why his perfectionist tendencies prevented him from simply releasing it as-was at the time, even though it's clearly the superior take. Arrangement wise the biggest difference is a lack of 80s synthesisers, the dramatic sound effects at the beginning that make the start of 'Oh Yes I Can!' sound like the start of a Phil Collins record and a curious extra tag line in the chorus that runs 'I needed to roam...to all those people...alone!' Find it on: the box set 'CSN' (1991) and CSN compilation 'Carry On' (1991)
B) Recorded a full quarter of a century before the finished product on 'Crosby*Nash', Crosby's first stab at the a capella [240] 'Samurai' eventually turned up as one of the most eagerly awaited extras on the Crosby box set 'Voyage'. Like 'Shadow Captain' and 'Delta' though not quite up to either, this song is painful and poignant; is Crosby's sub-conscious telling him that he's lost, with surreal drug-hazed lyrics about being an old fighter 'looking for the light' and 'tilting at windmills' going off at a tangent to the rest of the world. The difference between the two recordings though is that between day and night; the 1979 version has Crosby as a lost little boy, adrift in a world without a 'compass' and very much alone; the 2004 is a man who knows his way and has Nash for company. I don't know how a song that's sung a capella can be affected by production values but the two are very different too: the 1979 version is loose, bordering on improvised, the latter rather over-rehearsed and fussed over. Crosby sings rather better in 19790 but the effect is still uncomfortable, his voice breaking under the strain at times and the echo bouncing off the studio walls just that little shade too long to be comfortable. The difference is the difference between waking up from a bad dream and being trapped inside one and points more than any other recording to the pain and isolation Crosby was in across 1979, a 'Where Will I Be?' for the end of the decade without the support of 'Page 43' to soften the blow. Goodness knows what fans would have made of it had it been released at the time - even the 'softened' version in 2004 left fans scratching their heads a bit. Find it - the 1979 version that is - on Crosby box set 'Voyage' (2006)
C) [241] 'King Of The Mountain' is the one that got away, unreleased till 2006, a lovely acoustic lament that sounds as if it belongs in the same sense of 'fallen idol' Crosby songs as 'Homeward Through The Haze' and 'Long Live The King'. Actually, Crosby's sleevenotes for his 'Voyage' box set reveal that it was written for Stephen Stills and was 'an attempt to feel my partner's pain'. You wonder if Neil heard this song before writing his own Stills tribute 'Stringman' (itself not released until his 'Unplugged' show in 1993) as the two are very similar. Returning the tribute Stills once gave to him on 'Do For The Others', Crosby portrays his partner as alone in a crowd, searching for the roar of appreciation from a crowd in an empty 'grandstand, alone' (Crosby added that he thought of this line as a pun: his stubborn friend being in a 'grand standalone', increasingly unwilling to communicate to the world outside, making this a pun worthy of the Two Ronnies). Crosby could have portrayed Stills as a figure of pity, the king of a world with a population of one, but he's cleverer than that: Stills lives apart from everyone else's feelings 'with a big smile on his face...having finally found his place'. He even 'borrows' some of his partner's usual style and lexicon, picturing him 'hiding from life and littleness' (although Stills would have added a line about 'walls'). Given the state Stills was in across 1978 (see our review for 'Thoroughfare Gap' a confessional set to disco music in a desperate attempt to change style), this song shows again just how well the quartet of CSNY seemed to understand one another on a deeper level than most friendly musicians. The song is arguably the best to have been recorded for that abandoned Crosby album of 1978 and it's a great shame it wasn't re-recorded along with most of the others for 'Oh Yes I Can!' in 1989. Find it on: The David Crosby box set 'Voyage' (2006) and a curious demo/live incomplete yet somehow longer version as part of the 2000 CD re-issue of the 'Crosby-Nash Live' album (originally recorded in 1977).
D) Meanwhile, while Crosby was trying to keep it together long enough to make an album the Stephen Stills band was out on the road. [227] 'Cuba Al Fin' is another of those 'Latin' numbers Stills loved adding to his catalogue in the 1970s. More upbeat and less autobiographical than most, to date only a live version has ever been known to exist: a noisy powerhouse version taped during the 'Havana Jam' three day festival in Cuba in March 1979 and first released on the various artists record of the event (also titled 'Havana Jam'). It used to be the rarest official Stills release until resurrected for the 'Carry On' box set (it's first appearance on CD, though it's trimmed of a couple of minutes, sadly). Legend has it that Stills leapt into the audience with a specially adapted 'leadless' guitar and sang this serenade to the crowd by remote, the only artist to sing 'cuban' to the crowd that night which went down particularly well (the song title translates as simply 'Cuba...finally!') Rita Coolidge also performed at the festival, which might be why Stills goes the extra mile to impress here, adopting a nicely gritty vocal (all in Cuban!) and some terrific guitar playing. Find it on: the Stills box set 'Carry On' (2013)Non-Album Recordings #12 1980
A) How do you release a second compilation album when a) you've still only released three albums and only one exclusive non-album single b) you've been asked to replicate as little as possible from your first compilation album ('So Far', 1974) and c) record company shenanigans means you can't use many songs from the second because Neil Young's lawyers have been on the phone? The answer, you do what Stills did and spend a night in the studio re-working one of your songs until Neil is entirely removed from the track. [30b] 'Carry On' is such an obvious choice it seems odd that it was ever missing from the first compilation and the band clearly weren't going to leave it off a second, so Stills got busy with the scissors and came up with a fascinatingly different edit of the song. The chief casualty of this is the 'Questions' segment with it's lovely Stills-Young guitar interplay: this version has a false ending where the 'love is coming to us all' section should be and simply ploughs back into a repeated mix of that classic 'dur-der-de-der, dur-der-de-der-dee-dee' guitar riff over and over, Stills adding a new guitar part and upping Dallas' drums in the mix to create a hypnotic instrumental break that eventually leads back to that 'love is coming' a capella break a second time. Most fans feel a little queasy about this, as if someone's just carried out needless surgery on an old friend, but taken on its own merits it's another thrilling insight into how this song could have gone. To date this edit of the song has never appeared on CD. Find it on: 'Replay' (1980)
B) The second remix from the 'Replay' album is less daring but still changes the tone a great deal. [226a] 'I Give You Give Blind' is basically the same as one the 'CSN' album but minus the dramatic strings. This turns the track into more of a rocker (and arguably closer to the default sound of the punkish 1977), with Russell Kunkel's drumming sounding especially good and with a few extra fiery bursts of Stills guitar. This version of the song, unavailable on CD for decades, made a sudden shock return back to the catalogue in 2012 when it appeared on the Stephen Stills box set 'Carry On' (2012).  Find it on: 'Replay' (1980) and the Stills box set 'Carry On' (2013)
C) At one stage Stevie Winwood was all set to be the fourth member of CSNY. Stills especially was a big fan - Winwood has a voice not unlike his own and a bluesier style he wanted to take the trio in, whilst his fiery keyboard playing would have been a great sound to bounce off live without treading on Stills' toes. Winwood was also used to be with 'all-stars' after a stint in Blind Faith and Traffic following the Spencer Davis Group and success wouldn't have gone to his head the way of some newcomer bands. However Winwood wasn't interested - at the time the band asked him, in late 1969, he was fed up with bands after seeing Blind Faith effectively crumble after Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker butted heads too many times and he also couldn't see himself as part of the CSN sound. [252] 'Dear Mr Fantasy' is the answer, the only Winwood song CSN ever tackled (although there are rumours that the band recorded this one song lots of times from 1970 onwards - alas a studio version from 1980 from the first tentative days of the 'Daylight Again' sessions (and thus without Crosby on board) is all that has turned up to date officially or unofficially). The song is a natural fit, a postmodern take on the art of writing in which Winwood calls out to himself in the third person, wondering why he leads such a lonely life until the moment he hits the stage and 'plays a tune - something to make us happy'. The song sounds remarkably like the many tales in The Hollies of unhappy clowns applying their make-up to mask their frowns (not just Nash's 'Clown' from 'For Certain Because' - 1966 - but the songs they did without him, such as 'Mr Heartbreaker' (out On The Road, 1973) and 'Harlequin' ('5317704' - try typing it out on a calculator to get the joke! - 1978)). As a result is suits both performers like a glove, giving Stills the chance to bring out his swampier side with a wonderfully grungy wailing guitar solo and dropping his already deeper vocals by another few notes. Nash too sounds right on the money on a song so similar to his own early style, his gentlemanly counter-vocal the 'sobriety' that Stills' narrator is desperately to cling to. However the real 'winner' here is longterm CSN keyboadist Mike Finnigan, who usually ends up sounding a little too wild and raw for the trio's live shows (and reportedly didn't get on with Young at all, hence his occasional 'retirements' whenever Neil comes on the scene) but is sensational here, busking away on the Hammond organ and offering an even worthier blues growl than Stills'. With Crosby's sickness forcing Stills and Nash's hand as a 'duo', they're clearly trying the blues out for their new destination - and on this evidence a parallel universe out there with a whole album of this stuff got very lucky indeed. Find it on: The CSN Box Set (1991)
D) [253] 'Welfare Blues' is a slightly less interesting solo Stills track, which sounds more like him messing around with a new guitar sound to be honest than a serious recording. The sleevenotes credit this song as 'live' but I sense only in the sense that it's 'live' in the studio. It's always good to hear Stills return to his blues roots and to his politics - amazingly this is the only CSNY song that seems to speak out against English politics, about how under Thatcher factories have all been closed, jobs have been lost and now 'the welfare money is all gone' as 'the seeds of discontent are all sown'. Sadly this rare combination of Stills blues and politics never really quite takes off and soon drifts into a cheap and easy blues target: 'My lady don't like me anymore'. The metaphor of 'welfare' must have seemed alien to the anglophile American (where the country pays for medical disability and unemployment via the equally complex process of insurance) and Stills doesn't seem to quite understand how it works ('Welfare is my father and I feel as if I ain't left home' he barks; on the contrary anyone whose ever been under the thumb of the British welfare system knows that its like an angry, rude, ignorant Great Aunt that has to be pleased with gifts every time you see them under threat of your legally-entitled inheritance being cut off any second). Find it on the Stephen Stills box set 'Carry On' (2012)
E) Returning to his beloved [38b] 'Church (Part Of Someone)' after a gap of 11 years, Stills re-christens his gospel original as a tight taut chugging rocker for an aborted solo LP. The song feels less 'special' like this somehow, without that marvellous booming organ, although the performance is a good one with another multi-voiced choir sounding more apt here somehow and less overpowering on the song. Presumably Stills was having a go at another album in 1980 but as things work out he won't be back in the studio until 1982 with C and N and won't be making any more solo recordings until 1984, by which time this recording had been long forgotten. Find it on the Stephen Stills box set 'Carry On' (2012)
                                                                                      
Non-Album Recordings #13 1981
One of the unexpected last minute highlights of the CSN box set was an unexpected re-make of Stills' charming ode to maturity [169b] 'As I Come Of Age'. The song must have seemed remarkably apt for the band at the time, with Stills peering down the hole that Crosby had found himself stuck in, a mere six years after the former's promise to behave himself better in the future. CSN loved returning to old material and as early as 'Deja Vu' were warming up with numbers from their first album in rehearsals and 'As I Come Of Age' is clearly ripe for returning to, what with the band's deeper, older voices. However why did CSN return to this record here - this came a full year before Stills and Nash properly returned to make 'Daylight Again' together and Crosby is a full member of the trio here - indeed Crosby's part is louder and more focussed than his guest spot on the 'Stills' 1975 original. The box set doesn't give any information (except for Stills' typical blend of ego/modesty that 'the lyrics are self-explanatory') but was there a whole abandoned album here we don't really know about? Taken at a slightly slower lick and with slightly more ragged vocals, this version isn't quite up to the devastating simplicity of the 1975 arrangement, but equally the trio have clearly been paying pain-staking attention to their vocals showing more discipline than Crosby or Stills had for years so equally this is not just a rehearsal by the sound of it. As far as we know, this was also the only CSN song recorded in 1981, suggesting that if this was a whole new project it ended quickly in defiance of this song's lyrics of working together better and turning over a new leaf. Find it on: 'CSN' (Box Set, 1991) and CSN compilation 'Carry On' (1991)Non-Album Recordings #14 1982
A) [264] 'Raise A Voice' was the first song attempted for a follow-up to 'Daylight Again' that never got further than three tracks and was duly abandoned and turned into a live LP. A rare show of solidarity sees Stills and Nash collaborating for only the second time in their career and finds Crosby adding his one cameo vocal to the sessions (and a good one it is too - chances are it's his last time in a studio until his release from prison in 1987**). The song displays elements of both writers, most likely combining Nash's folky opening (complete with Dylanesque harmonica) and lines about 'raising a voice against the madness', before Stills' heavy power cuts in on the middle eight ('Do we run? Do we stop? Do we lie down? I think not!' he snorts, before quoting the title of  his earlier song 'We Are Not Helpless'). Sadly the song never quite gels and - whisper it softly - is a little bit boring by CSN standards, with a predictable set of chord changes and a sleepy tempo on Nash's sections. Worryingly this song is weaker than even the worst that had appeared on 'Daylight Again', suggesting that the 1983 album wouldn't have been one of the high points of CSN's career had it been finished. Find it on: CSN's 1983 live LP 'Allies', the CD re-issue of 'Daylight Again' (2006) and Graham Nash's 2009 box set 'Reflections'.
B) [265] 'Feel Your Love' is a lovely bluesy Stills song that was all set to make the 'Daylight Again' album before the lawyers for Rose Royce got involved and claimed it as one of their own, forcing it off the album (you wonder how they ever got a chance to hear it - something that was never explained, nor have we ever been told the specific song they meant: to be honest all Rose Royce songs do sound a bit the same). The story that a band as average and poppy as Rose Royce got involved had always put me off this song before hearing it, but Stills has a real flair for the smoky passionate ballad and it's tailor made for CSN's smoky harmonies (including the single best harmony vocal of Crosby's during the 1982 sessions). Unable to stay passive for long, Stills turns in a fiery middle eight that charges out of nowhere with an angry guitar solo that cuts up the song nicely. Like much of 'Daylight Again' it's a song about the healing power of love after hard times and Stills' worry about whether it's still there (admitting that 'sometimes I doubt myself'). While far from the greatest song around it would have added a nice frisson of drama to 'Daylight Again' (perhaps in the middle of the weaker second side, which is nearly all made up of love songs) and the trio really should have put it on there even if they'd had to hand all the resulting royalties over (lawyers be damned!) Find it on: the CD re-issue of 'Daylight Again' (2006)
C) [266] 'Tomorrow Is Another Day' is arguably the weakest original song recorded at the 'Daylight Again' sessions, the song clearly dropped before Crosby came anywhere near to rejoining Stills and Nash. One of Stephen's songs, it finds him increasingly desperate to sound like what's in the charts in 1982 (clue: Rolls Royce might have had grounds to sue him for his song too), although a fiery performance half-rescues the song, with some dramatic dynamic switches between laidback verses and a noisy power chorus and lashes of Stills' glorious wah-wah guitar. Just as with his songs for Judy Collins and Rita Coolidge Stills pours out his heart and hopes his new love feels the same way in return, but adds that he'd hate to hold back, claiming 'I'll miss you girl - but I won't resist your curiosity'. The sudden violent switches in volume hint that the narrator is secretly furious at the thought of being single again, though. Find it on: the CD re-issue of 'Daylight Again' (2006)
                                                                                

Non-Album Recordings #15 1983
A) [267] 'War Games', another song recorded for an abandoned CSN album in 1983 before Crosby's ill health got in the way and included as a 'bonus' on CSN's live record 'Allies', is like the songs from 'Daylight Again' but more so, merging a strong pop bent with one of only two CSN songs becrying the mid 80s peak of the cold war (the other being Nash's 'I Got A Rock' from 'Innocent Eyes'). 'War Games' isn't one of Stills' best, borrowing it's title from a period Hollywood film ** and it's sneery bounce from Frankie Goes To Hollywood, but it's a fine enough war cry that deserves to be more widely known. At only two minutes, though, the song rather sells itself short and Crosby is sorely missed on the harmonies, while Stills' lyric (sample: 'Either your machine is a fool - or me') is hardly comparable to old classics like 'For What It's Worth' or the similarly titled 'Word Game'. Find it on: CSN's 1983 album 'Allies' or the Stephen Stills box set 'Carry On' (2012)
B) [268] 'For Free' is a Joni Mitchell song that was one of David Crosby's all-time favourites and cropped up in his set lists (mainly solo and Crosby-Nash, though occasionally with CSN or CSNY) more often than most of his own masterpieces. Joni's song tells of a tired rich songwriter dejectedly walking home concerned with money problems until she stops, entranced by the sound of a 'one-man band by the quick lunch stand', pouring his heart out for free, entranced by the music even though nobody seemed to be listening. Crosby first recorded this slice of whimsy on the Byrds reunion album of 1973 where it really didn't fit (this is very much a CSN philosophy than a Byrds one). This version is a near solo performance from a CSN tour in 1977  (the reason there's a sudden cheer near the end is that Nash has just walked on stage to join his partner, cleverly appearing spot on to sing the line 'maybe put on a harmony'). Left in the vaults for six years, it was disinterred in 1983 to give live LP 'Allies' the illusion of a fully functioning Crosby (who got very few lead vocals in the set) and made for a nice bonus for fans who'd always wanted a recording of Crosby singing it. To date the recording is one of CSN's rarest: there was a CD of 'Allies' briefly in the 1990s but it didn't sell and has been rather superseded by the 'Live in LA 1983' set which features the full CSN recording used for the album, whilst omitting the studio tracks and both this and 'Shadow Captain' (also taped in 1977 and the best thing on the record, with some ragged-but-right CSN harmonies enhancing the mystery of the song). Find it on: CSN's 'Allies' (1983).
  [228a] 'Clear Blue Skies' isn't many people's choice of greatest Nash song, although a rare CSN recording from the mid-1980s (with Crosby out on parole but about to enter prison for good - this could so easily have been the trio's last recording) is astonishingly even worse than the version that graced (disgraced?) 'American Dream'. Nash's vocal is treated with the same annoying artificial synths as most of 1986 record 'Innocent Eyes', although this is clearly a full three-way CSN record with major roles for a croaky Crosby and Stills adding some nice falsetto. The pace is slower, the backing even more filled with artificial synths that seem at odds with the song's message of 'purity' and there's an 'extra' repeat of the song's chorus which really does strain your patience. Composition-wise everything is here already, including an additional 'and I know...' line dropped from the finished product. The end result is one of the lesser moments of the Nash box set, but it's still preferable to have an alternate take over the real thing. Find it on: the Nash box set 'Reflections' (2009)

Non-Album Recordings #16 1986
A) Another tribute to wife Susan,  [288]  'Love Is The Reason' is heartfelt but rather forgettable, which still makes it automatically more listenable than most of Nash's artifixcal and forgettable album 'Innocent Eyes'. 'Now the old days are gone, what you gonna do from here?' sighs Nash, perhaps thinking back to his last project - a rather unhappy reunion album with The Hollies, while 'Innocent Eyes' is the sound of a man trying to rekindle a flame by copying what others are doing instead of listening to himself. Find it on: Nash's box set 'Reflections' (2009)
B) [289]  'Lonely Man' is a haunting song that would have sounded right at home on Nash's 'Innocent Eyes', with the same burbling synthesisers and almost the same riff as 'I Got A Rock'. This is a much better song than anything on that wretched record, however, Nash using the antiseptic stripped-of-emotion backing to pour out one of his more heartbreaking lyrics. Written in tribute to wife Susan, it recounts how he's 'waited a lifetime', Nash's typical upbeat sunny optimism suddenly upset by a wild change back to the minor key on the line 'it was only then this lonely man could love'. The sleevenotes to Nash's 'Reflections' box set list this as a CSN recording: while Stills is indeed present and correct (turning in a brief guitar solo), Crosby seems to have been replaced by Mike Finnigan, as per quite a lot of the trio's recordings from the first half of the 1980s. A shame as this is exactly the kind of soulful Nash song Crosby always connected with best and my candidate for Nash's best song of the troubled 1980s. Find it on: Nash's box set 'Reflections' (2009)
C) The alternate mix of [284b] 'Sad Eyes' released on the box set further backs up my prognosis that there's a good album trapped inside Nash's 'Innocent Eyes' LP kicking and screaming it's way out. With so many of the 1980s trappings taken out, 'Sad Eyes' sounds like a typically astute compassionate Nash love song, where Nash is able to talk about his dark side but has the upbeat message that love keeps him right. 'No more bringing myself way down!' Nash sings in tandem with special guest James Taylor (whose voice overpowers Graham's rather in this mix) on a special song that sounds all the better in this version. Find it on: 'Reflections' (Graham Nash Box set)
D) 'Wherever you are, you are here' sings Nash on his latest upbeat ecological ballad [290] 'Water From The Moon', which tells mankind to get on with solving their own problems because there's no higher deity around to solve it for them. Nash was inspired to write the song after an Academy Award acceptance speech by actress Linda Hunt in 1983, whose film 'The Year Of Living Dangerously' from the year before offered her a 'pulpit' to offer her views on  the environment. Nash was particularly taken with her image of the problems evaporating like water from the moon' - a line that doesn't make much sense to me but seemed to strike a chord with Nash who wrote a typical commercial Nash song around the theme. The highlight of the recording is undoubtedly David Lindley's fierce electric guitar - sadly it's his last appearance in this book, the end of a musical relationship that dates back a decade from here. However the song itself is rather forced, full of a rather trite sing-songy melody and the same irritating synths and booming drums from 'Innocent Eyes', the Nash album of the following year. Probably just as well it stayed in the vaults. Find it on: the Nash box set 'Reflections' (2009) Non-Album Recordings #20 1993
A) [343] 'Fare Thee Well' is a rare example of a non-album solo Crosby recording. Taped at the same sessions as 'Thousand Roads', this pretty ballad by Emily Saliers (best known from an Indigo Girls cover) is actually closer in style to Crosby's own work than most of that record, made with a simple 'Guinevere' style acoustic strumming and some gentle harmonies from his backing band. A lullaby well suited to Crosby's still-bright voice and to the loose album theme of 'saying goodbye', it would surely have been an album highlight and is well worth searching out the 'Hero' CD single for (although beware - my copy accidentally swaps this song round with 'Coverage', despite what it says on the sleeve!) In many ways this is Crosby's 'As I Come Of Age', the narrator bidding goodbye to his reckless youth as well as a loved one (the hint is that his dangerous ways have just got someone he loves killed - which must have struck a nerve with how far girlfriend Jan followed him down his drug road), giving one last sorrowful glimpse at 'the vanity of youth' as well as trying to remember 'the colour of your eyes'. Find it on: the CD single 'Hero' (1993) credited to 'David Crosby Featuring Phil Collins'
B) Nash's even rarer [344] 'Try To Find Me' is one of those songs in my collection that changes depending on my mood. At times its almost insufferably sugary, a trite tale sung through the eyes of a disabled child 'trapped in the web of a dark night' that would have made 'Band Aid'think twice. At other times its tremendously affecting: Nash's song is simple but heartfelt, inspired by attending the first of Neil's 'Bridge School Benefit' shows where from the stage he could see a child spend several painful minutes moving his wheelchair to put his hand out to the sobbing girl in the seat next to his. Nash's reflection 'I'm still in here' is a typically powerful uplifting song set to a vintage Nash melody of light and shade. You wonder what Neil thought of this song, after making a whole album of songs like this about his need to communicate with his cerebral palsy suffering son on 1982's superb 'Trans' (ignore what other critics say - it's one of his very best albums when you have the right key to unlock what it all means). Young would never be that sugary (or at least that's what I thought until 'Greendale'...) and the song will do nothing to ease the wrath often heaped on Nash that's he's a 'lightweight' composer. However there's always been a place in pop for heartfelt ballads when they're well made and, not unlike his old band's 1969 hit 'He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother' this song's heart is in the right place even if the sugar isn't. Find it on: Nash's solo box set 'Reflections' (2009). Non-Album Recordings #21 1998
A) One of Stills' live favourites across the 1990s and 2000s which never found a home on a proper studio record was traditional folk song [369] 'Girl From The North Country'. Most famously sung by Dylan on 'Nashville Skyline' (and later sung by AAA favourite Pete Townshend), this gentle English folk tale about love and loss may well be viewed by Stills as at one with his own songs about Judy Collins and Rita Coolidge, the teary narrator asking a friend heading to his old home to 'look for a true love of mine' and see how she's aged. Had Stills been recorded singing it when he was younger and his voice in full bloom this would indeed have been lovely (it's a surprise absentee from his 'Stills Alone' album in fact), but alas the two existing versions (a 1998 version with CSN and a solo version on 'Live At Shepherd's Bush' in 2008) are a little too rough and ready for repeated listening. Had CSN done it in the studio though - perhaps for their infamous abandoned 'covers' project in 2012' - it might still have been a good idea though. Find it on: the CSN version is on the Stills set 'Carry On' (2013) and the solo version is on 'Live At Shepherd's Bush' (2008)
B) Now we're inundated with a bunch of hokey musicals cobbled together out of songs that don't fit ('Mama Mia' must have been what Abba said when approached with such a terrible idea and the idea of a bunch of talentless non-singing actors performing them, however many millions of people went to see it at the cinema) thoughts turn to what a CSN-sponsored musical might sound like. Clearly there'd have to be heartbreak, with at least fifteen splits and reunions before the first interval in order to fit in all those back together/I hate you songs from their setlist down the years. However he closest song in the CSN canon is [345] 'Two Hearts' , a one-off collaboration between Nash and Carole King which just sounds like it belongs in some arch self-conscious musical (or failing that a 'Care Bears' movie - why does everyone laugh whenever I claim the first one to be Carole King's best work, beating 'Tapestry' hands down?!) Recorded between projects in 1998, the collaboration came about when the pair of singers met up at a tribute night for mutual friend Nicolette Larson (who'd sung some very pretty harmonies on some very pretty Neil Young records). Carole suggested the pair ought to work together - Nash replied that he didn't like writing with other people and didn't often write with Crosby or Stills. 'Right, I'll be at your house tomorrow!' she said - this sad and rather awkward song being the result. To be honest the song proves why Nash prefers working alone - when placed together the two writers are too similar to bring the best out in each other and imply multiply their faults, becoming mawkish and sentimental to the power of about three thousand. Vocally the pair are a better fit and it's unusual to hear Nash duet with a female voice (in fact, it's unusual for him to take the deeper part). However this song of two lovers coming together after their own bad experiences and then losing each other by not talking enough is not worthy of either great name. Perhaps sensing this, neither of them released the song for years, Carole just pipping Graham by including the 'finished' version of this song on the deluxe edition of her album 'Love Makes The World' (2007), while the superior demo came out on Nash's 'Reflections' box set (2009). Bet it would go down a storm on something trivial like 'X Factor', though. Find it on: Carole King's 'Love Makes The World' (2007) and Nash's 'Reflections' box set (2009)A) Alas the Nash tribute to Roy Orbison [346] 'Behind The Shades' - potentially a thriller as a singer as great as Graham tackles Roy's wobbly dramatic style - is rather ordinary. Written by Allan McDougal, one-time press officer for The Hollies (and sleeve-writer of the band's fifth album 'For Certain Because...' under the name McDoug, ssh! ssh!) Nash fell in love with it despite not being all that big a fan of the big 'O' - to be honest there aren't that many Orbison references here anyway and could equally refer to Johnny Cash or Bee Gee Maurice Gibb if Nash hadn't put a picture of Roy opposite the song in his box set artwork ('Behind the shades the man in black...') Taped at Nathaniel Kunkel (son of drummer Russell, a Crosby-Nash regular)'s home studio in 2000, in many ways this is a trial run for the 'Crosby*Nash' album of 2004 with the same nice-ideas-sterile-production of most of that album. It's a questionable addition to 'Reflections', though, all but sinking the strong work of the first two-and-a-half CDs along with most of the other unreleased material. Find it on: Nash box set 'Reflections' (2009)
B) A charity song without the excuse of raising money for a charity, the earnest [347] 'We Breathe The Same Air' is an oddly poppy song for the mid-90s Nash to cut. The story gets clearer when you learn that Nash was sent it on-spec by songwriters Marty Jourard and Jay Pinto with the potential of getting The Hollies to sing on it (the songwriters either didn't know about Nash's complicated, convoluted history with the band - or did know it and sent it to him anyway to pass on). Nash did indeed try to get The Hollies to record it for their long awaited return to the studio for a '#30th anniversary single' and frankly it's one hell of a lot less patronising than the song the band chose to record ('The Woman I Love' has hair of blue, a face like heaven and a body like you...' the way the band hadn't sounded since 1962!) I can even hear a Tony Hicks vocal on the middle verse when I hear this song now that I know the background behind it. However the Hollies, not accustomed to being sent songs by ex-members who left them in the lurch, declined. That's probably to the world's benefit although, ever one to help out a fellow songwriter at the beginning of their career, Nash recorded it anyway solo for an unspecified album that never got made (and got replaced by CSN record 'After The Storm', which contains far better Nash songs than the ones listed here), perfectly professionally and commercially, but a little low on charm. Still, far more gormless songs than this have made number one before now, so whose to say who was right? Find it on: Nash box set 'Reflections' (2009)Non-Album Recordings #22 2008
The last released Nash composition at the time of writing, [435] 'In Your Name' sums up the twin Nash themes of quiet rage and shimmering beauty rather well. Leading on rather nicely from 'Jesus Of Rio' on the box set, Nash unusually reaches to God and asks that 'if' he's out there could he place do something to stop the religious wars fought by both sides in his name. While religion as a factor in war goes back to at least The Crusades, it's certainly become a key topic of conversation in the 21st century as the 'war of the West' that treated so much paranoia and fear as a background to the CSN era slowly turned from one based on politics (capitalism v communism) to religion (Christianity v Islam, with the crux of the matter whether insults to God in this world damn us in the next and whether there is a 'next' world at all - which is why America was caught so on the hop by it, fighting a 'foe' that was all too eager to prove itself through suicide and murder rather than fellow humans ready to use all-out warfare only as a last resort. Far from being in the middle of a cold war that everyone pretended wasn't happening except when they needed to look 'tough', this one is a furnace with nowhere safe from the sparks whichever side is 'right' or 'wrong'). Nash's sweet country ballad sounds less defiant than usual for CSN, a weary plea of resignation rather than a demand for justice or a belief that 'we can change the world', Crosby's lovely backing vocal following him down the same road. As a result, it's quietly affecting, with Nash's quiet anger all the more fierce after years of hearing him musically-yelling his heart out. The melody is a pretty one too, neatly balancing the upright structured pop of The Hollies with the lazier jazz chords of CSN. Had this song been written at a time when Nash had an album to make, rather than being between projects, this song might well have become a fan favourite instead of a track that's been rather 'lost' despite being released three times to date (see also the similar live versions on 2011's 'An Evening With Crosby-Nash' and 2012's 'CSN In Concert'). Find the studio take on the Graham Nash set 'Reflections' (2009)

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