Now Playing: Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young – ‘Black Coral’ -The Deep Cuts

by | Feb 10, 2019 | 2 comments

Throughout their various tumults , whether it be over creative or
personal differences, drugs or missed musical opportunities: Crosby
Stills Nash and Young have still managed to develop a discography of
impressive songs, even if they’ve only erratically come together as one
unit.

While this output has been inconsistent and somewhat limited at
times, the discography of the four principal members, solo and together
contains significant pieces of music that are vital elements to seeing
the entire image developed from their collaborations. Regardless of
their numerous battles, one must get past the insults, the erased
tracks, the destroyed sessions and public arguing to examine the music …the only thing that should really matter.

Today in the ‘rock room’, I will gaze beyond the silhouettes of massive hits bobbing on
the surface of their respective careers, well known songs that have seeped into rock history like ‘Ohio”’and ‘Our House.’ but also beyond the constraints of the three studio
albums created over 45 years….because there is more music to be had.
There remain songs that are only nestled on the flip sides of solo
recordings that contain input from all four principal members.
Diving even deeper into the blue depths of history, we can find
unreleased takes of familiar songs, which due to stubbornness and
miscommunication never became an official Crosby Stills Nash and Young
release.

The songs compiled below, through often unfortunately and woefully
overlooked, individually contain the unique alchemy that manifests itself only
when the four musicians join together in a celebration of creation. That
they’re not more celebrated within the core of the members’ respective
catalogs remains somewhat shocking, but I encourage you to decide for yourself:



“BLACK CORAL,” (CARRY ON, 2013): Long-time fans will
remember an earlier version of “Black Coral” that first appeared on the
1976 Stephen Stills/Neil Young project Long May You Run. The
track later surfaced on this Stills-focused box set, featuring a unique
CSNY arrangement. One of the stronger tracks off of the 1976 album, this
new take features the streaking Crosby Stills and Nash vocal blend,
completed by Young’s Stringman Synthesizer additions. Built around a
percolating and percussive Stills piano core, the song is a
claustrophobic drift through mystical seas. Stills’ approach shows a
quintessential gritty throat vocally, while lyrically the song touches
on environmental issues leaving the listener to contemplate the line:
“Don’t take more than you need, because heaven just might be the sea.”




“THROUGH MY SAILS,” (ZUMA, 1975): The closing song on
Young’s 1975 album with Crazy Horse, “Through My Sails” is a perfectly
encapsulated Crosby Stills Nash and Young moment. The CSN vocal blend
elevates the ocean sway of the track up and through the clouds, making
it one of the quartet’s finest moments on tape. They are accompanied
only by light percussion, acoustic guitar, leaving the vocals feeling
naked, pure and real. It’s woody respite from the electric music from
Crazy Horse that came before, and is representative of the relief nature
provides after a bright, all night bender in the fast lane.



“SEE THE CHANGES,” (CSN, 1991): Originally in the running for the unreleased early-1970s Human Highway project, an updated take on “See the Changes” ultimately appeared on 1977’s CSN.
This earlier version, however, was recorded in the studio by Crosby
Stills Nash and Young in 1973, training a new spotlight on one of
Stills’ most honest and true lyrical creations. In contrast to its more
laid back officially released counterpart, the 1973 edition road trips
on silvery rapt acoustics and slightly rough-hewn vocal blends. A hint
of sadness prevails, however, since this version could have become a
vital piece in an unrealized CSNY full-length.





“PUSHED IT OVER THE END,” (Italian import b-side, 1974):
Considered by many to be the great lost CSNY track. A smoky umbrageous
song with differing movements, the lyrics deal with Young’s
deteriorating relationship with Carrie Snodgrass. Reaching past seven
minutes, “Pushed It Over the End” opens like a junkie waltz, balanced
precariously on Young’s razor sharp Les Paul stabs. The clandestine trap
door then falls out from under the performers amidst a wash of
feedback, exposing the classic Young melody residing at the center which
CSN drape their lacy veil of harmonies. The extended soloing over the
jerking groove mid track is essential listening. Set aside for a
discussed and unrealized early-1970s Crosby Stills Nash and Young
project, “Pushed It Over the End” made a few extended appearances during
the 1974 concert tour. Unreleased in the states, “Pushed It Over the
End” actually did appear on a pricy Italian-issued box set of Young
albums. That version hails from August 27, 1974, and contains some vocal
additional studio touch ups.



“SOMEDAY SOON,” (LOOKING FORWARD, 1999): Coming from
the group’s last studio offering, ‘Someday Soon’ harkens back to
the heady days of Crosby Stills Nash and Young, eliciting all of the
elements that make the group so special. Penned by Graham Nash, the
acoustic mid-tempo song highlights Nash’s innate ability to compose
melodies for the ages. All four members appear and are invested in the
song, revealing the band’s recognizable fingerprint of quality vocal
arrangements, empathetic instrumentation and damn good songs. Stills and
Nash’s harmonizing on the middle eight seems to sum it all up for me.
It’s chill inducing and awe inspiring.



This truncated list is only a sampling of the prolific and unique
musical creations developed by Crosby Stills Nash and Young. There are
numerous songs that meet the criteria to be included in this list of
rare tracks. I simply tried to distill it down to a reasonable number,
representing all eras. As mentioned, there is an entire album tentatively titled Human Highway that contains CSNY songs that were never fully developed in the studio, though many of those songs
stretched their legs in concert appearances. What this list does
illustrate is that regardless of the temperament and condition of the
principals, the music could slice through the thick pretense and always
deliver the goods. Whether or not the musicians could notice the magic
themselves at the time is irrelevant, because the sonic gifts have been
captured for eternity for all to enjoy.

2 Comments

  1. Unknown

    Thanks for this. "Through My Sails" is an absolutely gorgeous, underrated track. There are also two lovely CSNY "Human Highway" takes on Neil's Archives Vol. II.

    Reply
  2. talkfromtherockroom

    Thank you for stopping by and commenting! The Archive II is something special!

    Reply

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