Barrels of Pain
The four of you tried to re-convene in 1973. What happened?
Nash: Same old shit. I remember at one point, Stephen was so high — in my home studio, we were working on one of his songs called “My Angel” — and he asked me to sing a major melody through a minor set of chords. Instinctively, my body wouldn’t do it. I’m very good at what I do, but I couldn’t do it. I kept getting halfway through the phrase, and it just sounded so horrible to me that I had to stop. I did that two or three times, and I said, “Stephen, I just can’t do this.”
Well, we ended up having a flaming row. He actually found the master of “Wind on the Water” and cut it in half with a razor blade.
I called a friend of mine, who lived next door, to throw Stephen out of my house.
By 1974, the quartet hadn’t been seen together in public for four years. The pressure was intense. That summer, they became the first rock act to play exclusively in stadiums, for big crowds, for big money.
Things had changed since the days of The Frozen Noses. After the massive success of his Harvest album, Young had become the superstar and the major draw — and his manager, Elliot Roberts, took control of the proceedings early on.
And Crosby, Stills and Nash didn’t have a lot of say in the matter.
Nash: Elliot had dollar signs in his eyes and persuaded us to throw away our whole production team and go with Bill Graham. So everything kind of changed.
Then Neil didn’t want to travel with us, and drove himself across America in his own little tour thing. He was kind of isolated from us.There was too much cocaine around.
Even in the blizzard of lies, as I call it, we were pretty good. I’m going through all the two-tracks right now, but I can hear the drugs screaming off the tape. There are some good things, and I’m sure I’ll be able to find a good record… but it makes me so uneasy to listen. It makes me crazy to listen to it. It’s part of why I wrote “Wasted on the Way.” We wasted a lot of time and a lot of music behind ego and drugs.
At tour’s end, another attempt at a studio reunion failed, and the four again went their separate ways. Stills recorded and toured with his new wife, French vocalist Veronique Sanson, while Young took off on an extended road trip with his trusty backup band, Crazy Horse.
Crosby and Nash made Wind on the Water, their second album together. “We thought, we have all these songs, and if Stephen and Neil aren’t into them, f**k ’em, we’ll do them ourselves,” says Nash.
“We fell back on a situation that was much more controllable, and much more sane.”
Wind on the Water was a critical and commercial success in 1975. As Crosby and Nash were in San Francisco working on the followup, Whistling Down the Wire, Stills and Young were hunkered down together at Miami’s Criteria Studios, making a project of their own.
Young turned up unannounced at Nash’s door with a cassette of four songs — including “Midnight on the Bay” and “Long May You Run” — he and Stills had roughed out for their first-ever duo project. Why not fly down, he said, and make this a full-blown CSNY record?
Nash: David agreed that they were great songs, and we knew we had good songs, since we were in the middle of a record. So we went to Miami to sing with Stephen and Neil. We completed the record — it was done. We sang on every single track. And then we went back to finish Whistling Down the Wir