You see that title? It’s a quite a handful. Most evenings during the past week of my life have been consumed by reading this book, which was written by Rolling Stone editor David Browne. I just finished up a review of this gem for Paste.com, and now I’m sort of taking in what I just read and reviewed. I think my problem is this: I love Neil Young. I was playing “Heart of Gold” on the piano when I was seven. The last time I visited my parents, my Dad played “Harvest” on his guitar, and I sang along. I know every word to his Harvest album, and I know every word to CSNY’s Déjà vu. I know this doesn’t make me the biggest Neil Young fan in the world, but I like the guy. The problem is, after reading Fire and Rain, I can’t help but think that he’s kind of a selfish baby. Here are some facts I already knew about CSNY, John Lennon, Paul Simon and James Taylor, and others I just learned:
- Neil Young joined CSNY to gain some traction for his solo career. And let’s not kid ourselves: The man had an impressive solo career. Buffalo Springfield derailed in part because Young couldn’t get along with Stephen Stills, but the two reunited when David Crosby and Graham Nash wanted to form a Folk-Rock group with Stills. Somehow, Young got in on the action, but then mostly resented the rest of the band because he felt like his talent for songwriting was carrying the group. The group formed in late 1969/early 1970. They consequently imploded after their summer tour in 1970.
- After retreating to Denmark with Yoko Ono, missing The Beatles’ January recording session in 1970, John Lennon talked about a few future projects, including a free peace festival which was to be held in Toronto later that year. Because his label wouldn’t pay for 2 million people to attend for free, he let the idea die. He released a song called “Instant Karma,” which didn’t go very well because of his heroin habit, and then he spent a lot of time watching television.
- Graham Nash wrote “Our House” about the house he shared with Joni Mitchell. While he was writing romance ballads to her, she was harboring the fear that if she married him, he would make her stay at home as his housewife. Eventually, she ended their relationship by a telegram delivered to the house she shared with Nash. It said: “If you hold sand too tightly, it will run through your fingers.”
- James Taylor wrote “Fire and Rain” after a girl he had met once overdosed on drugs and died. Most likely, her death affected him so much because of his own addiction to heroin. He wrote the second verse of the song in a psychiatric ward at a New York hospital.
- Paul Simon couldn’t read music in 1970. I’m sure can now.
The article hits the Internet on Monday. I’ll post a link for you when I see it. How exciting!