Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young are a bit of a guilty pleasure with me, but I'm not convinced that they should be. Sure, it's easy to scapegoat them for the general folk-rock malaise that began in the waning moments of the 1960s and carried on into the 1970s -- until punk motherfucking obliterated that shit. But take "Deja Vu," their debut as the complete CSNY -- Side A of that album is just chock full of awesome. "Carry On" is a nice Stills guitar piece, with a psyched-out interlude that is letter-perfect; Nash's "Teach Your Children" stands up against the best of the Byrds' folk harmonies; "Helpless" is classic Neil Young (although the live version in "The Last Waltz" really outshines the album version here); "Woodstock" is a solid, driving tune, if a little dated. And even if Side B is a little forgettable (if not regrettable: see the execrable "Our House"), that doesn't make Side A any less an indispensable document of the folk-rock era.
But I'm coming in here with this David Crosby bullshit, this anthem for a generation of drugged-up, burned-out longhairs? What can I say, I like it -- it's got a raw, visceral sound to it; coming right after "Teach Your Children," it's a nice palate cleanser; when Crosby snarls "Separate the wheat ... from the chaff," it gets me every time.
And I do have an ulterior motive: I shaved my beard. It happened just the other day. I didn't wipe it out completely, but I really sort of went from this to this. For the best.
CSNY: Expect lava lamps.
All five of their albums released between 1969 and 1977 went multi-platinum, which makes CSNY an exceedingly easy find on vinyl -- I picked up the three I own for a total of $2. (If you're keeping score, Deja Vu was a whole dollar.)