Flashback: Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young Perform ‘Only Love Can Break Your Heart’ in 1970
Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young were less than a year old as a band when they did a six-night stand at New York’s Fillmore East in June of 1970, but they were already falling apart. Few people on the outside the group knew anything was wrong. “Ohio,” their furious response to the Kent State massacre, had just hit radio, and their LP Deja Vu was selling just about as quickly as the plants could press new copies. The band played “Ohio” for only the third time during the Fillmore run, and Bob Dylan even snuck in largely unnoticed one night to see what all the fuss was about.
Right around the time of the Fillmore stand, Neil Young was putting the finishing touches on After the Gold Rush. He had also just wrapped up an East Coast tour with Crazy Horse and was clearly focused on his career outside the confines of CSNY. Stephen Stills was heading to London to begin work on his self-titled solo LP (which featured “Love the One You’re With”), and Crosby and Nash were also planning their own albums. The recording of Deja Vu was extremely difficult, and everyone was looking forward to future creative projects in which they didn’t have to compromise.
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The bigger problems were personal. Graham Nash was still reeling from his breakup with Joni Mitchell, and old tensions between Stills and Young were heating up backstage. There’s a reason supergroups rarely last long. CSNY limped on for another few weeks, but they went their separate ways after a Bloomington, Minnesota show on July 9th. It was less than 11 months after they first performed together as a four-piece.
CSNY reformed for highly lucrative reunion tours in 1974, 2000, 2002 and 2006, but those were unabashedly nostalgic affairs. Their tenure as a true creative unit was extremely brief. Thankfully, cameras were rolling when they played the Fillmore on June 5th, 1970. Check out this stunning rendition of “Only Love Can Break Your Heart,” a song that wouldn’t hit shelves for another five months.
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