HISTORY IN MUSIC: “OHIO’- CROSBY, STILLS, NASH AND YOUNG

 

Image result for csny ohio images

History in Music- “Ohio’- Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. 49 years ago today -Monday May 4, 1970-I can tell you where I was at what I was doing. I was nine years old and my grandparents had taken me on my first trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. We were at the Hall of Fame that day and afterwards when we got to the car and had the radio on the reports were coming in on what was happening at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio- about an hour and a half from where I lived.

Mary Ann Vecchio screams as she kneels over the body of fellow student Jeffrey Miller during an anti-war demonstration at Kent State University, Ohio, May 4, 1970. Four students were killed when Ohio National Guard troops fired at some 600 anti-war demonstrators. A cropped version of this image won the Pulitzer Prize.

Twenty-eight Ohio State National Guardsmen 67 rounds over a period of 13 seconds into a mass of unarmed college students who were protesting against the bombing of Cambodia by the United States military. Four students were killed and none others were wounded. Not all the students who were shot were involved in the protest- some were just walking by-going to class and happened to be observers. Of the four killed the closest one to the guardsmen was 265 feet away from them- the rest were well over 300 feet away- a football field. The four killed were Jeffrey Miller 20, Allison Krause 19, William Schroeder  19 and Sandra Scheuer 20.

https://slate.com/culture/2013/05/may-4-1970-the-kent-state-university-shootings-told-through-pictures-photos.html

Neil Young wrote the song “Ohio” after seeing photographs of the massacre in Life Magazine. On May 21, 1970 less than three weeks after Kent State- Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young went into the studio and recorded the song. “Ohio” was recorded live in just a few takes. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young had a single on the charts at the time “Teach Your Children” but the record company rush released “Ohio” was a single- backed by Stephen Stills song to the war’s dead “The Cost Of Freedom.” Neil Young would later say in liner notes to his Decade compilation that the Kent State incident was ‘the biggest lesson ever learned at an American place of learning” and that “David Crosby cried when we finished the take.” Crosby is the one you hear during the fade out of the song saying “Four, why did they die?” and “How many more?” The single would peak at #14 on the Billboard Hot 100.

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“Ohio” is a great example of Neil Young’s approach to life and music. He is a pretty spontaneous fellow. In his recording career he isn’t one who lives in the studio for a year and a half perfecting every note of every song. He has been known to quickly write an album of songs- get into the studio and record them and get the record out.”Ohio” is a raw sounding record in the Neil Young style.  Kent State happened on May 4, the song was written and recorded on May 17 and the single was released in early June. The Guardian has called it ‘the greatest protest record.

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2010/may/06/ohio-neil-young-kent-state-shootings

Tin soldiers and Nixon’s comin’
We’re finally on our own
This summer I hear the drummin’
Four dead in Ohio
Gotta get down to it
Soldiers are gunning us down
Should have been done long ago
What if you knew her and
Found her dead on the ground?
How can you run when you know?
Na na-na-na, na-na na-na
Na na-na-na, na-na na
Na na-na-na, na-na na-na
Na na-na-na, na-na na
Gotta get down to it
Soldiers are cutting us down
Should have been done long ago
What if you knew her and
Found her dead on the ground?
How can you run when you know?
Tin soldiers and Nixon’s comin’
We’re finally on our own
This summer I hear the drummin’
Four dead in Ohio
Four dead in Ohio (Four dead)
Four dead in Ohio (Four)
Four dead in Ohio (How many?)
Four dead in Ohio (How many more?)
Four dead in Ohio (Why?)
Four dead in Ohio (Oh!)
Four dead in Ohio (Four)
Four dead in Ohio (Why?)
Four dead in Ohio (Why?

 

 

 

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12 responses to “HISTORY IN MUSIC: “OHIO’- CROSBY, STILLS, NASH AND YOUNG

    • That is cool. Have you seen any other concerts the last month or so? What do you have coming up? I saw Dwight Yoakam in February- and will be seeing Steve Earle twice in the coming couple weeks… and in October have tickets for The Black Keys.

    • Thanks, it was fun. The Neil Young tribute band is called Decade. It’s really a Neil Young tribute artist I’m friendly with, who plays with different backing band lineups. I’ve included them in a few posts on tribute bands.

      As for other upcoming concerts, I have tickets for The Who with backing by a symphony orchestra at Madison Square Garden (May 13) and Joe Jackson at a midsize theater in New Brunswick, close to my house (May 18).

      Frankly, I’m not quite sure what to expect from The Who. Somehow I had completely missed the minor detail about symphony orchestra and only became aware of it after I had purchased my ticket! 🙂

      I’m also waiting on the rescheduling of my Rolling Stones show at MetLife Stadium in NJ, which initially was scheduled for mid-June.

      In-between the above, I’m planning to go to a bunch of additional tribute band concerts – luckily, these types of events are much more gentle on the wallet! 🙂

  1. Great song. I was only 13 when it came out and was fully expecting riots in the streets across the nation that summer. I remember distinctly hearing the song for the first time over the radio and thinking, wow, that is pretty raw, totally unlike CSN&Y’s other polished studio recordings.

    • Those were pretty bad times. May 4 is one of those dates like Nov.22, Sept 11 , Dec 7, July 20 [ a positive event} in which just hearing that date makes me think of the event that happened.

  2. I was always saddened that this song presented such a negative viewpoint of my birth state and the college nearby wherever I lived.

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