The latest musical journey down the folksy back roads of Americana by such fresh new artists as Mumford & Sons, Fleet Foxes and the Lumineers is due in part by the earlier pioneers of this genre. Though, this time around Folk Rock is missing a little something; something edgy.
When David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash got together (with sometimes fourth member Neil Young), the times "they were a'changing." Abroad, America was embroiled in the darkest days of the Viet Nam War, while back at home she struggled with the strife and violence of the Civil Rights Movement and the loss of direction that seemed to follow the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Crosby, Stills and Nash seemed to be born of similar frustrations. Prior to the trio's formation, each member had been a part of other recognizable acts. David Crosby had a falling out with his bandmates in the Bryds and found himself on the outside looking in. Stephen Stills had been a guitarist, vocalist and songwriter for Buffalo Springfield. When the band fell apart in 1968, Stephen was out of a job. Graham Nash left his band the Hollies over creative clashes. Fresh from these disappointments, the three met and began a collaboration of melodic, lyrical and activist folk rock that continues to perform today.
The trio released their first album, eponymously named Crosby, Stills & Nash, in the spring 1969. The album spawned two Top 40 hits in "Marrakesh Express" and "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes." The band followed up with Deja Vu in 1970 with 3 top 40 singles, most notably the hit "Teach Your Children"; a song whose message has as much cautionary meaning today as it did during the Counter Culture revolution of the early 1970's. Crosby, Stills & Nash went on to record songs with anti-war messages such as “Chicago” - a song protesting the indictments of anti-war activists – and “Ohio” – a song of flagrant rage naming and shaming the likes of Richard Nixon in its lyrics. The band’s performance at Woodstock and its continued association with political causes has given its music the sort of authenticity that today’s artists are missing. While the current folk rock rival is welcome sound to the ears of a new generation, now is a good time to rediscover both the roots and the causes that made folk rock great.