Ever since I’ve been involved in music, it’s seemed there’s been one crowd or another telling me who I’m supposed to like.
In college, the music majors all dug the Alan Parsons Project. “It’s like…above rock”, they mewled. Perhaps it was; it was also beneath interesting.
There were others.
(Below the jump, because of all the videos)
Back in high school, and running at least part way through college, one of the “Yougottas” was the various incarnations of Crosby, Stills and Nash (sometimes with, sometimes without Young).
And in the days before music videos and ubiquitous internet reporting about all things celebrity, all I had to go by was the tale of the vinyl or the tape; I didn’t know so much what an insufferable bunch of flower children they were; I didn’t see Graham Nash’s constant mugging, David Crosby’s smug Malibu politics and eternal hippie-dippiness, Steven Stills’ pointless prickliness.
But I did hear Stills’ interchangeable, meandering guitar style (on the electric, anyway – he’s always been a very capable acoustic guitar stylist). The endless procession of minor-to-augmented-seventh chord progressions. And always, always the music – as over-ornamented in its 3-4 part augmented-key harmonies as any Mariah Carey obligato-ing, and Crosby’s ninthing and Nash’s way-too-high, way-too-nasal, annoyingly-perfect harmony:
Yeah, yeah, I know – it was the prototype of a whole decade’s worth of “California” pop; the Eagles’ roadhouse-ier take, Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne, America, JD Souther, both of the most successful incarnations of Fleetwood Mac, yadda yadda. It’s all duly noted.
Problem is, most of that genre always bored me stiff, too. More on that later.
Except occasionally when it didn’t – as when Stills would cut back on the “oblique” and write in the indicative, and the harmonies would turn from fussy, augmented/minor noodling to glorious, wide-open, almost choral majors:
Or when Neil Young would join the band and stir up CSN’s complacent pot with a dollop of frantic, biplolar, inspired chaos:
So it’s not like I don’t like CSN (and occasionally Y); it’s just that the stuff I like comes so few and far between.
As with everything in this series, it’s never simple…