Today Crosby Stills Nash & Young released a massive live compilation of recordings from their huge and infamous "Doom" tour of 1974 (yes, that's right, forty years ago). Thirty-plus songs, from thirty-plus performances, before crowds averaging 50,000, we are told.
In the Wall Street Journal, in Rolling Stone, on Jimmy Fallon, in Drowned in Sound, and no doubt in an almost infinite number of venues we'll see the old would-be left coast beatles discussed and interviewed. Maybe we'll even hear some of the music. Despite the band's tendency to go over the top lyrically, the record -- over which Graham Nash in particular labored for years -- has won great reviews.
Crosby has blamed the jerkiness of the band at the time on cocaine, and from watching film of their talks backstage more than one insider admits that they sound like pompous jerks, and in particular the candid Graham Nash admits with regret that he was a terrible drug addict at the time.
Bassist Tim Drummond in an oral history today said that Bob Dylan happened to visit, and played songs from his "Blood on the Tracks" record to him and Stills in a hotel room. Drummond was in total awe. Stills sneered at it as "not good" to Dylan's face, which has to be about the crassest possible move, short of actually attacking Dylan with a stick or something. It's an interesting story.
But note that in this flood of talk, Neil is not saying a word. Not one word. Not to Rolling Stone, not to the Wall Street Journal. He's made his feelings about the tour plain for years. During the tour he split from the hotel penthouses, the jets, the free food and drink, the drugs, the groupies, the rip-offs.
Graham Nash to the WSJ:
During the tour, Neil's album "On the Beach" was released and he began traveling separately in a mobile home and then a bus. It was typical Neil. [Mr. Young wasn't available to comment for this article.] The timing of its release was probably part of the reason he did the tour. But Neil also was our conscience. One night after a show, we all went back to our hotel suite where we had the entire top floor. It was decadent. Every night there were huge plates of food set up, like cold lobster for dozens of people. Neil was disgusted by the excess. There were even pillows embroidered with Joni's tour logo as well as china and luggage. Hey, we didn't ask for all that. This soured Neil a bit and, in retrospect, he was right.
Plus, unlike many wince-worthy CSN&Y songs, most of Young's songwriting -- which is at its best at his simplest -- stands up to time's long gaze without apparent effort.
Here's an example of a forgotten classic from that l974 tour, with Neil on guitar and harmonica, Crosby and Nash harmonizing perfectly, and Stills playing an eloquent country-ish piano counterpart to Neil's plaint, from a last performance in Wembley England.