Saturday, March 27, 2010

'Going down to Yasgur's Farm, gonna join in a rock 'n roll band. Got to get back to the land & set my soul free'

So went the line on one of the classic songs - 'Woodstock' - on this album 'Deja Vu' from Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young... This 1970 classic is great because it brings together influences from all members, has some classic tracks -- 'Teach Your Children,' 'Woodstock,' '4+20,' 'Our House' -- and is like sonic bridge between the 1960s and 1970s, musically speaking. And that album cover!

I hadn't listened to this album in I don't know how long, but gave it a spin today and it got me thinking about how I ended up with it and its place in its own era. I found this gem in Uptown Minneapolis' own Cheapo Records... it was rated in 'Good' condition and was selling for $4.20 -- perfect price. What's great about my copy is it's in fine playing condition, but just beat up enough to have a little hiss/static throughout. Some of the audiophiles out there might cringe at that, but in this sense it makes the listening experience. The dirty sound of 'Woodstock' coming over the speakers grasps what was, of course, an incredibly dirty festival.

The static running through 'Almost Cut My Hair,' exemplifies the era. In flux, uncertain, loud, challenging. The scratchy, hissy sound completely matches the album cover and the subject matter. I mean, it looks like the old west, Crosby with what appears to be a rifle and that dog just sitting in the foreground of the photo. The lyrics on 'Our House' -- 'I'll light the fire while you place the flowers in the vase that you bought today' -- are just so simplistic, but carry some kind of vivid imagery. And that very simplicity is the contradiction of the time this album was made. Social upheaval coupled with a certainty self-identified righteousness among a a segment of the movement.

The album is better for it. I had this on CD (and, as such, MP3) before I landed the vinyl, but I haven't listened to it in either of those formats since I got this record. The music itself on this album is a relic to a very specific period of the past -- just think of how different 1968 was from, say, 1972, from music to politics to culture. It's a snapshot of the past, musically, and listening to it in all of its dirty, scratchy, vinyl glory is like a worthwhile adventure on the greatest time machine of all time.

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