Revolving in the ‘rock room’ and the focus of this edition of ‘Take One’ is the relatively unknown 1972 single released by Neil Young and Graham Nash featuring backing by the Stray Gators. The ‘War Song’ was an attempt by Nash and Young to align themselves with George McGovern’s 1972 presidential campaign and its valient attempt to unseat Richard Nixon. Never ones to shy away from voicing their political opinions, Young and Nash recorded the song at Broken Arrow Ranch in Spring of 1972, with the usual stellar backing group of musicians assisting. The track also has the distinction of being the only song penned together by Nash and Young.
The ‘Harvest’ band made up of of Ben Keith (Pedal Steel), Kenny Buttrey (Drums), Tim Drummond (Bass) and Jack Nitzsche (Piano) lend the melodic detonation needed to begin the battle. For the longest time the track was only available on the original long out of print 1972 7′ single. It was only in recent times that the song was included on the first volume of the erratically released Neil Young Archives Collection. While never a mainstream success the ‘War Song’ still caused a ruckus at the time and was in some cased banned on radio, illustrating Young and Nash’s always uncompromising artist aesthetics.
flashing red warning light of Young’s constant one note buzz saw drone. Drummond and Buttrey join in on a determined forward footed stomp that kicks into the vocals.
taking such a forward public stance alone. Nash would always come to the musical aide of any of his colleagues and for Young he was the perfect recruit for the mission. Both are very forward thinking politically.
would pirouette on a central axis in Young’s ‘Last Dance’ found on 1973’s Time Fades Away. Ben Keith over the chorus is stellar, his deliquescent steel, thick and sweet as the THC soaked honey slides Young used to procure on the nearest stove. Keith really is a highlight of this particular statement, usual practice for the legendary musician. Young then proceeds to blast some breathy and creaking harp blasts and for a moment this shady, Shakey single from the early 1970’s sheds its political skin and soaks of the utopian sun of a hypothetical musical hope built of freedom and dreams.
and rough hewn guitar stomping slam the lid on the tune, working out an improvised riff that ends much too soon.