If there's one thing that can be said to characterize rock in the Seventies, it's that the business has come round again and is dominating the music, the artists and even the nature of the music. Bands are created, assembled and put together not because of the music they might make, but rather to appeal to a certain market. Such is not the case with David Crosby and Graham Nash, and we're all the more fortunate because of their 'music first' philosophy. Says David Crosby, "It is a theatre up there, and we're conscious of it, but what we've found is that our only act is to not have an act . . . I don't think that a lot of stuff that is based on theatrics, or on shock, or on overawing you with
volume . . . I don't think a lot of that's going to last."
One gets a comfortable feeling around these two performers, a sense of finely honed craftsmanship. Earlier on, when Crosby, Stills and Nash burst on the scene, they were marketed as a 'supergroup'; they accepted it for what it was, and integrated it into their personal philosophy:
.. the only thing we ever knew, among the three of us, was what under our arms in the two-track on the morning after bein' up for straight forty hours, a final mixing of the CSN album . . . we knew what we had under our arms, we knew what was on the 'A' side, what was on the 'B' side, and it was gonna kill people. We're not fools. Me an' him (Nash and Crosby) hear good music, and he gets a glint in his eye an' I know what he's thinking . . ."
Unlike a great number of groups that communicate to an audience, Crosby and Nash take great pains to communicate with their audience. Having been around so long, in various situations, both David and Graham have discovered the formula, if you will, for getting their audience off in the best possible manner: ". . . I didn't develop my antipathy for stadiums until that last CSNY tour that was all baseball stadiums, an' 50.000, an' 60,000, an' 80,000, an' 110,000 . . . and all of a sudden, you're sitting with one guitar and two voices tryin' to do 'Guinevere' ... the only thing is, there's a bunch of people that are a quarter of a mile away from you ... I don't care how big your sound system is, it's not happening, they can't see your face, they don't know how you feel, it's not real ... it's not good for communication . .."
Communication is the prime objective for Crosby and Nash; the songs they write, the attitudes they convey, are extremely close to them. Probably their best known cause is the risk of extinction of whales; ". . . you see whales, you fall in love with 'em . . . it's not a bullshit rap I do on stage, it's the truth .. ." maintains David. Graham chimes in that ". . we began to get really worried that that one particular part of the eco-system having been carelessly wiped out, to a certain extent, affects every other strata of the same system. It's a really central issue to us."
One of the main difficulties with the music business lies in acquiring the maturity to be able to handle success; living in a goldfish bowl is liable to bring out latent personalities within a given performer. The most successful artist is one who retains complete control over his various personalities, one who can retain his humanity in front of 50,000 people. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young became a 'supergroup' in the eyes of the media (who helped create the image to begin with, then propagated it) and the public (who fell in love with the image perhaps more than the people). Given such a past situation, where even the record company, for obvious reasons, pushed the 'supergroup' tag on CSNY, the question of a reunion becomes all the more difficult to assess. It remained for David Crosby to put the whole thing in as proper perspective as is currently possible: "It works like this—when we started it, we intended to come together and fall apart many, many times . . . it's much less stable than we thought it would be ... we disagree about a lot of stuff, we disagree about how to make music. At the same time, we've played an enormous amount of music with those guys, we faced an enormous number of people with them, we've been through a lot of life with them, and it's not the sort of thing you turn off like a faucet. you just don't. They matter to us, OK? ... Neither of us