March 1970 Classics from CSNY and Delaney & Bonnie

3/11/70: CSNY – Déjà Vu

Continuing with my makeup homework, this album has been a fan favorite since the day of its release 50 years ago. There was a great deal of anticipation for the group’s followup album after the Crosby, Stills & Nash release the year before earned the group a Grammy for Best New Artist. Neil Young’s addition to the group only increased expectations. Certified gold 14 days after its release, Déjà Vu eventually attained septuple platinum status.

Neil Young News: NO MORE SECOND BILLING: CSN&Y Bass Player Greg ...

All four produced it, but Neil is only on half the tracks. His addition to the group might be looked at as a blessing and a curse. There’s no doubt he was, and still is, a prolific songwriter. But things were, and perhaps always have been with this quartet, a little off. Nash has stated Young recorded his songs alone in L.A., then brought them to the band in San Francisco for their contributions. Additionally, there was a dark undercurrent at the time: Nash and Joni Mitchell had split, as had Stills and Judy Collins. Much worse, Crosby was mourning the loss of his girlfriend Christine Hinton, who had recently been killed in a car accident. The stress of their personal lives spilled over into the studio, and as a result of all of these factors it took six months to record the album.

Why It Mattered: Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's 'Déjà Vu'

Though I think it’s a great album, I can feel that separation between Neil and the others when listening to it. Helpless and the Country Girl suite sound like they should be on solo Neil records despite the harmonies from the other three, much like Neil’s contributions to the third Buffalo Springfield album were basically solo efforts. Déjà Vu spawned three Top 40 singles: Woodstock, Teach Your Children, and Our House. While I don’t dislike these tracks, they are probably my least favorites. I’m partial to Stills’ 4+20 and Carry On, Neil’s Helpless and Country Girl, and Crosby’s title track. All four would take advantage of this album’s commercial success by following it with fantastic solo albums very soon after.

Last fall I visited a friend in L.A., and we took a drive up into Laurel Canyon so I could play shameless tourist. Laurel Canyon Blvd. has to be one of the more dangerous and busy roads I’ve been on, and by the time we pulled into what was at one time Joni Mitchell’s driveway I felt so conspicuous that I jumped out of the car and quickly had my friend snap a picture before we split in a bit of a rush. The result was a photo of me standing in front of the gate, but without the house, a.k.a. Our House, in the frame. A palm to forehead moment.

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March 1970: Delaney & Bonnie and Friends – On Tour with Eric Clapton

This live album encapsulates so much of what is, to me, good about music from 1970. It just  sounds like everybody on stage is enjoying themselves to the hilt, which is why even George Harrison joined the tour for a few gigs. (His performances, credited under the pseudonym “L’Angelo Misterioso,” are available on the super-deluxe-crazy-expanded-four disc release from 2010 which contains multiple shows.) The album and tour may have received a boost from Clapton’s association with it, but the rock ‘n boogie ‘n Southern gospel blues on this recording stands on its own merits. It’s also quite amazing to think that this coming together of various musicians spawned much of Harrison’s All Things Must Pass as well as Clapton’s Derek and the Dominos lineup on Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs. Not to mention the cross-pollination with Joe Cocker’s Mad Dogs & Englishmen tour and Dave Mason’s solo debut, Alone Together.

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Fun trivia: The photo used for the album cover is a Barry Feinstein pic from Dylan’s ’66 U.K. tour. Those are Bob’s feet sticking out the window of the Rolls-Royce.

Random fact that has nothing to do with this post: I’ve got music on YouTube playing as I write, letting it go to whatever is “Up next.” I had no idea the full-length version of Rare Earth’s Get Ready is over 21 minutes long. Or that there even was a full-length version other than what I’ve heard on the radio all my life.

-Stephen

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D%C3%A9j%C3%A0_Vu_(Crosby,_Stills,_Nash_%26_Young_album)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crosby,_Stills_%26_Nash_(album)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_Tour_with_Eric_Clapton

May 15 – R.I.P. Astrid Kirchherr

Sadly, Beatles author Mark Lewisohn has reported that Astrid Kirchherr, friend (and for a time, girlfriend of Stuart Sutcliffe) and photographer of the Beatles during their per-international fame days in Hamburg, passed away this week on 5/12/20.  She was just shy of her 82nd birthday.  She seemed like a very gentle soul.  God speed, Astrid.

From Real to Reel: Still Photographers at the Movies Astrid ...

Below is a sample of Astrid’s iconic black and whites of the Beatles in Hamburg.

John Lennon Hamburg, Germany 1960 | Astrid Kirchherr

Astrid Kirchherr: Paul McCartney, funfair portrait, Hamburg – Snap ...

Astrid Kirchherr – Snap Galleries Limited

Pop Art: Astrid Kirchherr and the Beatles - Los Angeles Times

It was 20 years ago today… Stuart Sutcliffe, Astrid Kirchherr ...

Astrid Kirchherr | Nostalgia Central

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astrid_Kirchherr

Young, Talented, & Free: Laurel Canyon in the Late 1960’s

Is there a historical time and place you’ve ever thought might’ve been great to have been around for whatever reasons?  The combination of the lens of history and the imagination can make the grass appear quite green in different bygone scenes.  For me, Paris in the 1920’s, Greenwich Village in the late-1950’s/early 60’s, and Swinging London in the mid/late 60’s are a few which stoke my imagination.

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Another is Laurel Canyon for that brief moment in the late 60’s when the music world was shifting faster than people could keep up with.  Thankfully there were artists and record company executives willing to take chances.  Granted, the “free” in my title is subjective; artists enjoyed leeway to record and perform as they liked, but massive egos are a hinderance to freedom in the spiritual sense, and there was no shortage of those in the Canyon.

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But it was a snapshot in time just before the money got absurd and the drugs too hard,  and it’s not likely to ever be repeated.  Today it’s snapshots I’d like to share in a manner which deviates from my usual format.  Rock photography became a major art form itself and crucial to the music industry around this time, and in L.A. Henry Diltz, among others, was a major contributor among the emerging folk and rock glitterati.  Perhaps I’ll explore that topic another time.

For now, picture yourself in a canyon in 1968 L.A., with tangerine trees and smoggy skies…

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Frank Zappa with daughter Moon Unit.  Getty Images
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The unofficial hostess of Laurel Canyon, Mama Cass.  Henry Diltz photo

Mama Cass may have been the unofficial hostess, but pictorially and musically speaking, to me the most interesting road in the canyon led to Joni Mitchell’s house:

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Joni Mitchell, David Crosby, Eric Clapton, and Mama Cass’s baby.  Henry Diltz photo
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Crosby, Stills, Nash, Dallas Taylor, Young, and Greg Reeves.  Henry Diltz photo
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Jim Morrison, standing outside his Laurel Canyon home.  Paul Ferrara photo
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Jackson Browne in his ’57 Chevy.  Henry Diltz photo
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Linda Ronstadt, then of the Stone Poneys.  Henry Diltz photo
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Stephen Stills and Peter Tork.
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Judy Collins and Joni in Mitchell’s Lookout Mountain home, Laurel Canyon.  Rowland Scherman photo
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James Taylor and Joni.
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John Mayall
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The Canyon Country Store, where the ladies (and gentlemen) of the canyon gathered.

I recommend the following books to anyone interested in learning more about the Laurel Canyon scene in the 1960s and 70s:

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Laurel Canyon:  The Inside Story of Rock-and-Roll’s Legendary Neighborhood – by Michael Walker
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Canyon of Dreams:  The Magic and the Music of Laurel Canyon – by Harvey Kubernik
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Hotel California:  The True-Life Adventures of Crosby, Stills, Nash, Young, Mitchell, Taylor, Browne, Ronstadt, Geffen, the Eagles, and Their Many Friends – by Barney Hoskyns

-Stephen

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/p/laurel-canyon-michael-walker/1100946905/2660582144646?st=PLA&sid=BNB_New+Marketplace+Shopping+Textbooks&sourceId=PLAGoNA&dpid=tdtve346c&2sid=Google_c&gclid=Cj0KCQiA2o_fBRC8ARIsAIOyQ-nUr5rGOVMQysznRYWWeGKw0AyV9FYd9GtYNVJnKKuhsr4oNzFz474aAumGEALw_wcB

https://www.abebooks.com/Canyon-Dreams-Magic-Music-Laurel/30110395251/bd?cm_mmc=gmc-_-used-_-PLA-_-v01&gclid=Cj0KCQiA2o_fBRC8ARIsAIOyQ-kNGadghEctBnpcpBkIc6ZO4citQKhM2YH4GY7xmO6i_oF5PT47dmAaAmowEALw_wcB

https://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-471-73273-0