Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – Déjà vu (1970)

Yellow moon on the rise

“Déjà vu” is one of those very special albums that defies common sense. David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash and Neil Young together on an LP. The first bona fide  supergroups. 

This is an enigmatic collection of musical styles and strong personalities. How in the world could they cooperate so well? Ehh, well, the simple answer is that they couldn’t and they have been “on and off” in different constellations over the years. But back in 1970 however, they all played nice.

This is an album I have had in my head a very, very long time. I discovered Neil Young via the classic 1971 live-album “4 way street” covering the CSNY tour of 1970. It was the acoustic version of “Cowgirl in the sand” that drew me in. As a bonus I also got Crosby, Stills and Nash handed to me. Very soon after the discovery I bought this original LP in a used record shop. It is a magnificent album. I especially like the cover of thick paper pressed like some old leather, the letters in old font and gold and lastly the old picture as taken in 1882 glued on.

The first you recognize is the fantastic harmonies, they define CSN with or without Y. The album is a true collaboration. They each get two songs and added two outliers for ten songs. The first four tracks are no less than classic. Stills “Carry on” was added in the last minute and it is one of the best songs and a track that is even better in the long version on the live album. After the sweaty first track Mr Nash takes relaxes us with his sweet “Teach your children”, a perfect extra number with the whole audience singing along. The third is David’s classic rock tune “Almost cut my hair”. Lastly Neil adds one of his more personal songs, “Helpless”, about his home in Canada. The last track on the first side is “Woodstock” a rocker penned by friend Joni Mitchell sung by Stephen.

The second side of the album would of course not match the first one. How could it? It starts very nice anyways with David’s title track, another song that is expanded upon when played live. It is one of those complex songs only David Crosby can write. I love them. Next up are two softer songs; Graham’s “Our house” and Stephen’s “4+20”, two niceties. Neil’s second song is something of an power ballad, a precursor to “A man needs a maid”, a medley called “Country girl”. Never been my favourite but it is actually quite nice even if it is very strange for a Neil song.

The last song “Everybody I love you” is written by Stills and Young and Stephen sings the lead. I think the competition between him and Neil Young has always put a shadow on him. It’s a little sad and quite petty.

After discovery of CSNY I collected many albums, solo or collaborations. In the beginning I liked them all alike, I even preferred Stephen and Graham during a brief period. Nowadays I almost only listen to Neil and David.

This album will always be important to me as it was part of starting my obsession of Neil Young, and with it taking a liking for country rock and Americana.

My rating: 8/10

Side A:

  1. Carry on
  2. Teach your children
  3. Almost cut my hair
  4. Helpless
  5. Woodstock

Side B:

  1. Déjá vu
  2. Our house
  3. 4+20
  4. Country girl
  5. Everybody I love you 

Best songs: “Helpless”, “Carry on” and “Almost cut my hair”

Released on March 11, 1970

Media: Vinyl, LP, Album, CP-Pitman Pressing, Textured, Faux-Leather Gatefold

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