Friday, January 18, 2013

Crosby, Stills, & Nash: Long Time Gone

Some albums in their own right are considered to be seminal works – the debut Crosby, Stills, & Nash LP is one of those. Recorded in 1968 and 1969, the album brings together three well known musicians: David Crosby, formerly of The Byrds; Graham Nash, ex member of The Hollies; and Stephen Stills, one of the driving forces behind Buffalo Springfield.


The album brings together outstanding songwriting, excellent harmonies, and a musicianship that had not yet previously been seen out of three individuals. “Long Time Gone,” written by David Crosby, was his response to the aftermath of the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. Typically when one thinks of Kennedy assassinations, we tend to think of where we were when heard about the death of his brother JFK. I was in third grade at the time and during the day of the shooting we were sent home early due to the tragic events.

With the Robert Kennedy assassination, it happened late in the evening and I heard about it while waiting for the bus to school the next morning. I was in eighth grade at the time. The senseless violence that led to the Kennedy and the Martin Luther King, Jr. assassination put our country in turmoil. Had Kennedy lived, he likely would have been the winner of the 1968 election; however, we never got to see that. As Crosby lamented, “The darkest hour is always, always just before the dawn. And it appears to be a long, appears to be a long – appears to be a long . . . time before the dawn.”

“Long Time Gone” was the flipside to “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” – a song Stephen Stills wrote about Judy Collins. The single charted at #21; however, as with many B-sides, “Long Time Gone” failed to chart on its own merit. The song features only two musicians: Dallas Taylor on drums and Stephen Stills on everything else. All three members of the band sing harmonies.

The song appears to fall apart at the end – something that would have been faded before the rather haphazard ending. That’s the beauty of the song – it ended as the band had designed it. Who knows – the ending may be a reaction to the turmoil of the times.