Sure, I could have said After The Goldrush because it was the first Neil Young album I listened too. Or the first CSN album because of the beauty of Wooden Ships. However, it's Deja Vu that I keep coming back too. It had been in the stack of LPs given to me by Dad for a couple of years, but I never really got around to listening to it.
In my final year of college, I was compiling songs for an American History project about the Vietnam war. I had decided to write some fictional letters from an American soldier, and to accompany these writings I made a tape of songs to be played whilst the letters were being read. As you can guess, the tape included artists such as Buffalo Springfield, Bob Dylan, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Country Joe and the Fish, and Crosby Stills Nash and Young. This last choice was suggested by my father who simply said ' Listen to Almost Cut My Hair and Woodstock'. So I did, and he was right. Almost Cut My Hair, written by ex-Byrd David Crosby, shows how going against the wishes of 'the man' in the late 60s/early 70s simply meant letting your 'freak flag fly'. Crosby states that although it increased his 'paranoia, like looking into a mirror and seeing a police car', he wasn't scared of the conseqences.
But I'm not giving in an inch to fearWhile Woodstock was originally written by Joni Mitchell, and played in an accoustic fashion, CSNY transform it into an electric wonder, complete with lush inter-woven harmonies. I decided to use Mitchell's version for my project, but hearing CSNY's version was a minor revelation. The rest of the album contains songs murdered by television advertisments for teachers and real estate agents (Teach Your Children and Our House), a Neil Young career highlight (Country Girl) and a cameo from the Lovin' Spoonful's John Sebastian (Deja Vu).
Cos I promised myself this year
I feel like I owe it to someone
So, I guess American History was useful after all. Oh, and in case you're wondering, the project got an A+ too. Learning about history while making mixtapes. Strange, huh?