Last week, David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash came by the Rolling Stone offices to have lunch, chat about their new film CSNY: Déjà Vu talk about their past and current musical relationships. For more on CSN — including news on their new album — check out the Smoking Section in the new issue of Rolling Stone, on newsstands tomorrow.
On Their Current Relationship
Nash: We have what marriages don’t have. It’s called music. We’ve always realized that music is by far the most important part of our relationship. No matter how we feel about each other, about the two of us, about the three of us, about the four of us, it’s the music. And we always try to focus on keeping that as pure as we can.
Crosby: But we’ve been doing better at it than we used to.
Nash: The things that used to piss us off a few years ago are meaningless.
Crosby: Hopefully it’s because you get a little smarter as you get older. You know, we try to treat each other a little better, be a little more respectful, be a little more friendly. And most especially not to rag on each other, and give each other stink eye.
Crosby: Not to sing his praises too much but one of the main people who told me “Stop giving Stephen stink eye and be his buddy and it’ll work about a hundred times as well” is Neil. He understands Stephen pretty well. Stills: I mean we laugh at each other all the time. We needed to take that to the stage, and we started doing that.
Nash: Then once people realize that we’re feeling comfortable with each other, it gives them license to feel more comfortable. I mean our fans already love us obviously. But when they see us comfortable with each other, it releases something in them that they don’t have to wonder if we’re going to start fighting or we’re going to start stabbing each other in the back.
On Neil Young
Nash: We have unbelievable respect for Neil. He’s a father, a farmer, an advocate for alternative energies. That’s the shit that he really does, and then he’s already written four hundred songs before four o’clock.
Stills: That pisses me off. Crosby: Somebody counted and said that CSNY’s got like 900 songs. 450 of them are Neil’s. At least.
Nash: He’s a remarkable human being. Truly brilliant.
Crosby: That really pisses me off.
Nash: I’ll tell you this about Neil. I don’t think I know a musician on this planet who follows the muse closer than he does. He has been true to that ever since the day I met him.
On Their Old Bands
Nash: Somebody just sent me a disc of 60 Hollies tracks from the BBC radio. Now when you did the BBC on the radio — this was between ’63 and ’67 — it was one take. It’s live on the BBC radio. Somebody just sent me 60 tracks of the Hollies and it’s amazing. They were a great band. We can all debate what the death of their meaning was, but as a band? They were just shit hot.
Crosby: The thing we didn’t like was that they had more hits than we did.
Nash: I think “Bus Stop” has got to be my favorite because we recorded it in an hour and 15 minutes and it was a huge hit. We had a manager named Michael Cohen and he says “You know, I got this little Jewish kid who lives down the street, he said he’s a song writer. Would you come and see him?” His name was Graham Gouldman, and later became a very famous man in his own act, but at this time he was only a 16 year old kid. So we go in and we go “Ok, so what do you got?” He goes, “Well, I got this one” and we went “Okay, we’ll definitely take that one. What else do you got?” It was a truly and astounding thing to see this 16 year old kid who was a fabulous songwriter.
Crosby: The Byrds is such a thing for me. I’m very proud of it. I really think that band broke some ground. But it’s a very sore subject with me because I would like to do it some more and Roger [McGuinn] doesn’t like me. It’s a real problem for me because Chris [Hillman] and I could still do really good music and we should. We could go out and do a tour and we don’t have to be the best of buddies, we have to make great music, so it’s very frustrating to me.
On Performing at Woodstock
Crosby: You know, I can’t remember.