Each member of Crosby, Stills and Nash had an impressive resume before assembling in the living room of Joni Mitchell, or Cass Elliot, depending on which member you ask. Crosby had been the " Bad Byrd", Stills was the hub of Buffalo Springfield, and Nash headlined The Hollies. Each talent was restless and in search of support for their respective artistic visions. Never has a blending of styles, as well as vocal harmonies, been so compatible.
CSN released their debut in the spring of 1969, just in time to fly up the charts before Woodstock. One of the special features about this recording is the stamp each artist places on his work, while allowing the other two to join in for a unique sum that's more than it's parts. Taken apart these men are talented, but something is missing after hearing them together.
Crosby is the rebel, Stills the perfectionist and Nash the heartbeat. "Suite Judy Blue Eyes", a classic rock staple/tribute to Judy Collins, opens the album. Stills makes it his by trailing off into speaking Spanish at the end, leaving Crosby and Nash to provide the pretty melodies. Graham Nash's " Marrakesh Express" is a hold-over from his days in The Hollies, but fits in perfectly here. It rolls along like a train, giving the listener a sense of being high on travel and in love.
Crosby gets in a word with " Guinevere", a beautiful ballad written as a composite of Joni and another girlfriend. One of the greatest compliments a song can receive is providing inspiration for another great song; "Wooden Ships" gave Jackson Browne the desire to respond in his superior work " For Everyman". I must admit that " Wooden Ships" sounded like a song dedicated to Holocaust survivors to me when I first heard it, and in some ways I found it more poignant in that vein than it's real meaning, thoughts from refugees in a nuclear stand-off.
" Lady of the Island" is another highlight; wouldn't all ladies like to have a Graham Nash in her life? " Helplessly Hoping" is another timeless classic. In fact, not a one of these songs begs to be removed. They all come together to make a very satisfying experience, especially on a summer day. This is a fantastic summer album.