Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young: “It’s not a democracy, it’s a dictatorship”

On the road for the controversial 'Living With War' tour

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For all the sparring, however, there is a strong sense that these four men have gone beyond the age when they can sustain ancient hostilities. Young, having suffered that aneurysm, says his outlook on life was affected in the sense that, “I just think I became more thankful.” But he hasn’t slowed up: as well as his recent series of brilliant live show drawing from the dark corners of his career, he’s also just announced his groundbreaking 10-disc Blu-Ray collection of archive material, spanning 1963-1972, scheduled for release later this year.

There’s a sense in CSNY:Déjà Vu of a redemptive search, these people trying to get right what in the past, because of the drugs, the pathological rivalries, they did wrong – 40 years after Woodstock, do CSNY still think music can change the world in the way they did, so idealistically, back then?

“I think, looking back,” says Graham Nash, “we were naïve. We did think we could change the world. We all expected the Vietnam War to end when the American people said it should end, and it didn’t end until almost 10 years later. But there was a tremendous feeling then of possibility, of openness, of ‘Yes, we can make our music, we can go into the studio, we can make records, we can sell records, we can go and do for people what it is that we have trained all our lives to do. Wake up in the morning, take your first breath, get on with life, express yourself, tell people how you feel, get on with it.’


“I think we misinterpreted the amount of energy it would take to move this planet. Societal movements are very incremental. It’s very rare that a society moves in any giant way immediately. It takes a lot of energy to move people, to educate people, and to make people aware of what’s going on around them and hope they will change their individual lives to affect the world a better way.”

How did he think people would react to four balding millionaires telling the world what to do?

“We’re not telling the world what to do,” he bristles, momentarily. “And we’re not balding,” he laughs. “It’s so funny what people say about us. We’re not trying to control the world. We’re not trying to tell the world what to do. All we’re saying is, ‘Hey, this fucking president is killing us. This fucker is driving the country into insanity. This fucker is responsible for America being the most hated country in the world right now.’ That’s what we’re saying. All I’m saying is: ‘This is what I think about this idiot. What do you think?’”


“It’s a different world now than it was in the 1960s,” Neil Young adds ruefully. “And I’m a different person than I was in the 1960s. I have more experience. I am not under any misconception that my next record is going to change the world.
“I’m a realist. So I just say what I feel, and that’s where the Living With War record came from. Those are my real feelings. That’s how I feel. So whether it’s 2008 or 1968 or 1919, it doesn’t matter to me. This is it. I’m still standing. I’m strong. I know my strengths, what I can do and what I can’t do. I just go forward.”

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