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Posted: 2010 05-30


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A song that never changed — but changed a lot

This is Chief Crazy Rust riding the range without his Horses — blasting his anthem of accountability across the land — evolutions after the revolutions — and we’re with him on the trail.

How it all got started:

As Crosby tells it in the “Sounds Like A Revolution” film, and his autobiography “Long Time Gone” —

“We were at a friend’s house near Santa Cruz, just me and Neil. We had that Life magazine with the picture of the girl kneeling over the dead kid on the ground in a pool of blood, and her looking up at you with that expression of, ‘Why?

“I watched him see, really see that picture. He picked up his guitar and started writing.  He wrote it right in front of me. I called Nash and told him, ‘We need a studio, now.’  He said, ‘Well, we can get one in a couple of days.’

“I said, ‘Nash — we need a studio tonight. Now.’  He got Stephen. We met at the studio, recorded it, put “Find The Cost of Freedom” on the back of it, and we had it on the radio and out on the street in a week.

“The reaction was pretty strong because — it’s a pretty strong song. It names names and points fingers. And it was powerful how we did it. We were enraged.”

They recorded it live in two takes, and after the one that was released with Crosby’s vocal testifying in the climax, Neil noted on Decade, “David cried after this take.” And the song has never changed — but it sure changed a lot.

It was the first time a song had been written about a national tragedy that was on the radio within a week of the event — something that’s now much more familiar. As powerful and influential as “Masters of War,” “Eve of Destruction” or even Country Joe’s “Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-to-Die Rag” had been, they weren’t about a specific event and specific deaths that were on the front page of every newspaper and the playlist of every radio station at the same time.

And now Neil, touring solo, recreates the song on electric guitar, much as he wrote it solo in front of Crosby that afternoon in 1970.

Dig the crazy primitive passionate assault. If there’s one song you wanna hear Neil play solo ... electric — this is it. If it ain’t his biggest hit, it’s sure one of his greatest.

Dig how it drops from the loud arena distortion — to the quiet living room riff.

Dig the sparseness of Tonight’s The Night — with the anger of Cortez The Killer.

Dig the hollow-bodied sound of the full-bodied soul.

Dig the hand-held verete in all its raging glory.

Dig the shitty sound, just the way Neil planned it, and that’s the way Neil wants it to be

Dig the chaos and the clarity of all that is Rusty.


Ben Marshall's picture

Thanks for this..the review and the clip..and putting it all into perspective.

YouTube Uploader: Jim McQuaid
Jim McQuaid

Twisted Road tour

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