March 11, 1970: CSNY Release ‘Deja Vu’

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This ad for the “Woodstock” single appeared in the March 28, 1970, issue of Record World

Just how pivotal was Deja Vu in the careers of its members: David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash and Neil Young? It is the best-selling album that any of them were ever involved in – and that is more than 100 LPs – with total sales of eight million copies.

But the album’s significance goes beyond just commerce. It was what was already a supergroup, Crosby, Stills & Nash, becoming a mega-supergroup with the addition of Young. The foursome played their second show ever at Woodstock and on the album is their definitive version of Joni Mitchell’s song “Woodstock,” which became a #11 pop hit. Hence the foursome became symbolic of the counterculture, its primary troubadours.

Related: Joni Mitchell’s “Woodstock”: Behind the Song

Young’s addition to CS&N was suggested by Ahmet Eretgun, the head of their label, Atlantic Records. Stills was initially reluctant due to the friction between he and Young when they were in the Buffalo Springfield. Nash was hesitant because he didn’t really know Young. But after meeting Young for breakfast one morning in New York City, “I would have made him king of the world,” says Nash. “He was funny, he was dry, he was dedicated and he was a special man.”

A reported 800 hours was taken to make the album – which breaks down to an average of 80 hours per song. On the other hand, the last number tracked for it was Crosby’s “Almost Cut My Hair,” which he says they cut in a single quick take. The title track took some 100 takes. “Carry On” was cut and completed in eight hours. “So you just never know,” explains Stills.

All four members recorded most of their contributions individually, utilizing the others where and when they needed them. Young contends that three of the numbers – “Helpless,” “Woodstock” and “Almost Cut My Hair – were recorded by the four together. It was released on March 11, 1970, with the sensational tactile cover, designed by Gary Burden.

Related: Gary Burden, designer of the iconic album cover (and dozens of others), died in 2018

After the album came out it went to #1, and also yielded the hit singles “Teach Your Children” (#16), with Jerry Garcia on pedal steel guitar, and “Our House” (#30), both by Nash, the latter an account of domestic happiness when he and Mitchell were in a relationship.

The disparate and scattered nature of the group led it to fall apart by 1976.

Related: Tour listings for 100s of classic rock acts

They reunited many times over the years. In late January 2017, we reported on a quote that Young gave to Mojo magazine. “I think CSNY has every chance of getting together again. I’m not against it. There’s been a lot of bad things happen among us, and a lot of things have to be settled. But that’s what brothers and families are all about. We’ll see what happens. I’m open. I don’t think I’m a major obstacle.”

On March 10, 2017, Showbiz 411 gave further credence to the talk. Noting the four “are considering a mega reunion tour,” Friedman wrote: “Nash and Young have been hobbled financially by massive divorce settlements,” among other reasons to get back for the cash that a CSNY tour would generate.

In recent years, Crosby was the most vocal about reuniting, even noting that Young remained the lone holdout. There was speculation that the foursome would perform in 2020 to raise funds for the Democratic Presidential nominee, but nothing materialized. Croz died on Jan. 18, 2023.

Related: Our Album Rewind of Deja Vu

The band’s recordings are available here.

Best Classic Bands Staff

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  1. Rte313
    #1 Rte313 12 March, 2022, 07:35

    Great respect for Neil Young, but of the four he is my least favorite. With that said, I just love the “Country Girl” medley.

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