Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young: So Far

In 1974, Atlantic Records released this strange album, a greatest hits collection that spanned only two albums and the A and B sides of a single. It was also a bit misleading because Neil Young only played on four of the songs. The group was reportedly not very happy about the release, but it proved to be a huge seller and was the only greatest hits collection of the four until years later.

So Far was the first album I purchased from any member or configuration of the group. I have written about the turbulent relations of the group in other blogs. In 1974, after several years going their own ways, the group reconnected for a massive 31 city tour of stadiums and large venues. So Far was released to help cash in on the tour success. Incidentally, a live collection of the 1974 tour would not be released until 2014, 40 years later.

1280px-CSNY_Norfolk_Virginia_Aug_27_1974

After the tour, CSN&Y headed to Neil Young’s ranch to begin work on a follow-up to Deja Vu (1970), but guess what? Disagreements led to the project being cancelled, the first of several aborted efforts to record as a quartet.

I still have the vinyl version of this collection, but never bought the CD version, as I have versions of all the songs on the set.  The album cover is a drawing done by Joni Mitchell.

Side one

No.      Title     Writer(s)    Source    Length

  1. “Déjà Vu” David Crosby  Déjà Vu, 1970 4:10  Crosby demonstrated that he could write more than wistful ballads.  This song rocks and has great sonic layering of guitars.
  2. “Helplessly Hoping” Stephen Stills  Crosby, Stills & Nash, 1969   2:38  Stills on guitar and CSN on harmony vocals.  The power of their voices blending together is incredible.
  3. “Wooden Ships” David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Paul Kantner  Crosby, Stills & Nash 5:26    Written by Crosby, Stills and Kantner (Jefferson Airplane), although not credited to Kantner for many years because of a management issue.  This song has great imagery and a soaring guitar lead.  Stills plays most of the instruments on the song.
  4. “Teach Your Children” Graham Nash  Déjà Vu    2:53  Try and resist singing along, a bouncy Nash song that reverberates through the decades.
  5. “Ohio” Neil Young Non-album single, 1970    3:00  The single written by Young immediately after the Kent State shootings of student demonstrators.  A hard-edge and powerful song.
  6. “Find the Cost of Freedom” Stephen Stills  B-side of the “Ohio” single  2:01  A delicate, nearly acapella song showcasing the harmonies of CSN.

Side two

No.      Title     Writer(s)   Source   Length

  1. “Woodstock” Joni Mitchell   Déjà Vu   3:52  Joni Mitchell did not go to Woodstock, but with this song she is closely identified with the event.  It is a great song, a marvelous piece of rock and roll that stands the test of time.  Lead vocals by Stills, it has great harmonies and a muscular guitar lead.
  2. “Our House” Graham Nash  Déjà Vu   2:58  Speaking of Joni Mitchell, Nash wrote this song about the two of them who lived together for a couple of years.  A great song that reminds you of the hopefulness at the beginning of a relationship.
  3. “Helpless” Neil Young   Déjà Vu   3:34  A sad ballad by Young, augmented by steel guitar.  CSN help out on harmony vocals.
  4. “Guinnevere” David Crosby  Crosby, Stills & Nash 4:38  From the first album, Crosby tends to write meandering songs that let his wonderful voice soar.  Just acoustic guitar accompaniment, but that is all it needs.  A very personal song.
  5. “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” Stephen Stills  Crosby, Stills & Nash 7:24  Also a very personal song by Stills, about then-girlfriend Judy Collins.  The soaring harmony vocals are perfect.

If you only purchase this set, you would miss some other marvelous tracks off the first two albums, and the awesome live album, 4-Way Street. It’s a good sampling of their work from a very specific era. If you want a broader selection, listen to all of the albums and buy the ones you like, plus any individual tracks.

This boxed set covers mainly CSN through 1991. There is very little Neil Young, just the material on So Far, but lots of CSN solo material and alternate versions. It is a good value.


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