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Crosby, Stills & Nash – Crosby, Stills & Nash (1969)

February 24, 2017

unnamed

Splendid Artist of the Week logo by Sarca @ caughtmegaming

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[Album 519/1001].

There’s something to be said for making a debut album eponymous.

If it’s self-titled, confusion should be minimized.220px-crosbystillsandnash

Though curiously with Crosby, Stills & Nash’s album Crosby, Stills & Nash (CSN), on the album cover, looking left to right, they are arranged as Nash, Stills, and Crosby.

Which I gather was unintentional but nonetheless, it got me thinking: does the order matter?

And if so, which order best reflects the trio’s actual contributions on CSN?

On the cover, are they visually sorted by descending order of importance? By ascending order of excellence?

Only one way to find out: a thorough, graphical analysis.

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song-writing

1. Based on song-writing credits

If song-writing is paramount, the album really should be named “Stills, Nash & Crosby (with a collaboration between Stills/Crosby/Kantner)” – think of the marketing opportunities!

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lead-vocal

2. Based on lead vocal credits

With 3 individual credits, it would appear that Nash deserves to be on the marquee. But with 3 lead credits (as supported by the others), Stills may also be deserving. Whatever the group/album is called, the font size on Nash & Stills should be somewhat larger.

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nash

3. Based on most frequent vocal appearances

Crosby and Stills each make 5 appearances in some sort of lead vocal capacity. Compared with Nash’s 7, they would be tied for second billing (Nash, with Crosby & Stills / Nash, with Stills & Crosby).

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csn

4. Based on quality of individual performances

Which is probably best left to individual listeners.

So consider this final visual a ‘fill-in-the-blank’ graph, as I’ve struggled to assign a specific performance score to each member.

In this album’s penultimate song, Long Time Gone, there’s the lyric, “you got to speak your mind, if you dare.” So I suppose, this week, I’m not all that daring as my mind doesn’t have any strong opinions to share on the subject.

In a typically/disappointingly Canadian way, I’d say all 3 performers made valuable contributions on the decidedly non-disappointing CSN.

Or NCS. Or NSC, SNC, SCN, CNS.

I think that covers all the permutations.

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Verbalize the Positive

Cheers to all my fellow bloggers who have encouraged me to use charts & graphs in my reviews, I appreciate that my nerd-enthusiasm for excel is becoming increasingly socially acceptable!

From → 1960s

19 Comments
  1. The charts really help.

  2. If you made a graph based on who recorded the instrumental tracks, Stills would dominate, and Dallas Taylor would be second.

  3. I think order does matter. Famously, Lennon-McCartney vs McCartney-Lennon. To avoid disputes, the Ramones named all four for every songwriting credit, which I’m guessing other bands have also done. In this case it makes sense however, because each one has an individual showbiz name in their own right, and it being a genre that emphasizes singing-songwriting, pie-charts are especially helpful in understanding who did what. I’m sure even CSN (or NSC, or SCN…) will appreciate it, just to be sure about who did what!

    • Thanks Amrita – I’d never seen Lennon-McCartney inverted like that, though the pairing’s the same, the order does make it seem like a different partnership balance.
      And I’ll leap at any excuse to use pie charts!

      • Maybe a pie-chart for who did more of the songwriting on Lennon-McCartney? I think McCartney, purely on the basis of the fact that he wrote more songs. McCartney-Lennon was something they were bickering about towards the end of The Beatles, and I guess it’s a big deal when there was so much interest in the band. I bet if they sneezed, it would get documented.

  4. Perfect timing for this series as I’ve been revisiting the CSN box set during my workouts & commutes this week. I love the way you’ve broken down this album in so many unique ways. Even though they’re a great example of “the whole being greater than the sum of its parts,” those parts are so good individually that it’s almost unfair so much talent could gel so effortlessly. I don’t have a favorite track or band member, although I’ve never tired of the beauty that is “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.” I used to think Stills was the most gifted of the three, but over the years I’ve realized what a unique talent David Crosby is, and his CSN(Y) contributions jump out at me more than they did when I was younger.

    Have you ever noticed that some movie posters featuring two stars often have the names reversed at the top? There must be a reason for that, unlike the misleading positioning on CSN’s debut.

    On a semi-related note, did you ever hear Barenaked Ladies’ version of “‘Tis The Season” which only uses the words “Crosby Stills Nash And Young”? It’s quite fun to listen to every holiday season.

    • Thanks Rich, much appreciated.
      It’s funny, I hadn’t noticed that movie poster billing before – I immediately looked up a La La Land poster, sure enough as you predicted, the written order is opposite the photographed order!
      And speaking of looking things up, somehow I hadn’t heard that BNL track before, I immediately played and enjoyed Deck The Stills!
      I think that will quickly become a holiday tradition at our house, cheers!

  5. Interesting observation! These distinctions are probably at the heart of many disputes.
    I enjoy your charts and graphs.

    • My thanks Danica – hopefully the charts can help rather that further muddle the disputes, enjoy the weekend!

  6. Phew! Almost charted out on this one Geoff! Seriously, though, lots of fun.
    This was one of the very first albums appearing at Vinyl Connection and still holds a position of great affection (despite some of Graham’s contributions).

    https://vinylconnection.com.au/2013/06/28/csn-long-time-gone-but-still-fresh/

    • Thanks Bruce – I contemplated a 5th graph to round it up to a ‘top 5’ but that most definitely would have qualified as charted out!

  7. Great use of graphs in this one, Geoff! Definitely an album I need to be in the mood for, though I don’t revisit it all that often as I generally opt for the addition of Young.

    • Cheers J!
      And of these 2 (the only CSN/CSNY LPs in my collection), I’d likely prefer the 4-letter band acronym too!

  8. I’m with the others Geoff…Real cool use of the Graphs! I have no idea how u do it but it looks damn impressive especially when describing a band with a bunch of writers/singers etc!
    Great work Young Man!

  9. This is like movie posters. They never put the actor name above the person. It’s usually reversed. Maddening!

    Haha typically Canadian. Sorry! 🙂

    I haven’t heard this album but I wanna!

    • I hadn’t noticed that inverted actor name/photo until this week – but I have a feeling that’s what I’ll be looking for everytime I see a movie poster now!

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