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Music

Revisit the arresting Crosby, Stills and Nash cover of 'Everybody's Talkin''

As far as supergroups go, it does not get much better than Crosby, Stills and Nash. With or without the presence of Canadian troubadour Neil Young, the band create a sound that is among the most magical in existence. 

A countercultural version of The Harlem Globetrotters, together, the trio managed to turn the sentiment of the hippie movement – with the mix of emotions that it precipitated – into an emphatically harmonious force, capable of transporting the listener away from whatever challenges the day might bring. They gave fans a number of stellar moments over their career, and one of the best is their eponymous debut album, which was released in May 1969.

Arriving during a tumultuous period, the album has remained one of the highlights of a prolifically creative time. Ostensibly one of the greatest debut albums ever released, the three put their former bands behind them, Crosby, The Byrds, Stills, Buffalo Springfield, and Nash, The Hollies, to create something utterly refreshing.

Alongside The Byrds’ Sweetheart of the Rodeo and The Band’s Music from Big Pink, both of which dropped the year previous, Crosby, Stills & Nash helped to change the musical landscape from blues-based rock music on noisy guitars to a more subtle form that drew on a variety of genres such as folk and jazz.

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The three blended their voices and different strengths, creating a multi-faceted nature that underpinned all their success. David Crosby was a master of writing social commentaries and mood pieces, Stills had a diverse skillset with a penchant for country rock, and Nash could pen radio-friendly pop melodies with ease.  

Duly, the album contains some of their best songs that include ‘Long Time Gone’, ‘Suite: Judy Blue Eyes’, and the masterpiece that is ‘Wooden Ships’. Famously, the latter was written as a collaboration between Crosby, Stills, and Paul Kantner of psychedelic heroes Jefferson Airplane. 

Whilst the aforementioned tracks are highlights, I’d like to turn your attention to what is perhaps the best cut on the album, and by far the most overlooked. This is their mellow cover of the Fred Neil song ‘Everybody’s Talkin”, which Harry Nilsson had popularised earlier that year when it was featured on the now-iconic drama Midnight Cowboy

Nilsson’s version is the most prominent, but what the trio did with the subject material, deconstructing it into an emotive piece that magnifies the desire to retreat from city life to a more peaceful place, really is quite something, and if you haven’t heard it before, you’re certain to be blown away. It’s a testament to the combined power of Crosby, Stills and Nash that they were able to deliver such a unique rendition of one of the era’s biggest tracks as if it were nothing, an afterthought. A masterclass in the trio’s team spirit, there’s so much to love about it. 

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