Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (1970)

Q (UK) - - 50 Greatest Revolutionary Songs -

On 15 May, 1970, , David Crosby handed band­mate Neil Young a copy of Life mag­a­zine that ad­dressed the re­cent deaths of four stu­dents killed by Na­tional Guards­men as they demon­strated against the Viet­nam war at Kent State Univer­sity in Ohio. A shocked Young dis­ap­peared for a few hours. When he re­turned, he had writ­ten one of the land­mark protest songs of the decade. Ohio was both a lament for the pro­tes­tors and a seething in­dict­ment of the gov­ern­ment that sanc­tioned their mur­der. It saw Young switch­ing be­tween stark dis­be­lief (“Tin sol­diers and Nixon com­ing/We’re fi­nally on our own”), blunt re­portage (“Gotta get down to it/Sol­diers are cut­ting us down”) and an omi­nous warn­ing: “This sum­mer I hear the drum­ming.” But its real power came from the fact that it never pointed a fin­ger in judge­ment. It didn’t need to.

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