Today marks the 43rd anniversary of the release of Deja Vu, the classic debut album by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young (the second by CSN). The heavily anticipated record hit #1 on the pop charts, spawned three Top 40 singles, and went 7x platinum. Rolling Stone ranked it #148 on its list of the greatest albums of all time, and Vh1 ranked it #61. Let's take a closer look at the classic release.
The album starts with the rocker "Carry On," which shows the supergroup at its most powerful. The vocal harmonies and Stills' lead guitar just add to this concert staple. Jerry Garcia plays steel guitar on Nash's "Teach Your Children," which hit #16 on the Billboard hot 100. The agreement was that Garcia would play on the record if CSN&Y would teach the Grateful Dead how to sing harmony on their upcoming albums. The longest song on the record is Crosby's hippie-anthem "Almost Cut My Hair," which features excellent interplay between the three guitars of Young, Crosby, and Stills. Originally recorded with Crazy Horse, CSN convinced Young to re-record "Helpless" with the new band, and the result is quite legendary.
The other cover on the record is Joni Mitchell's "Woodstock," which surely overshadows the original. The starts and stops before "We are stardust..." also make this arrangement special. The title track is a number (which took 100 hours studio hours to record) by David Crosby that almost is almost free form in its style. He chose to abandon a fixed rhythm and instead give the listeners different tones and moods-you be the judge. One of Nash's best loved songs is "Our House," and although it may be simple, the touching lyrics strike a chord with every family member.
The band strays into the blues with Stills' "4 + 20," a style that he would continue to use on his solo record. A typical Neil Young suite, "Country Girl" is actually three parts that explore different themes and keys and eventually brightens to a broad, dense arrangement in the coda. The album ends with "Everybody I Love You," that tries its best to sound like a great Buffalo Springfield record.