The Reason Neil Young Struggled With CSNY’s Career
Neil Young in a 2014 interview - q on cbc / Youtube
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young was a force that was hard to be reckoned with. With the breakup of Buffalo Springfield, Neil Young set out to establish himself as a solo artist. Sadly, it didn’t have the intended impact on the masses until he joined the foursome, which ultimately altered the trajectory of his career.
As Young had played with Stephen Stills in Buffalo Springfield, he was a simple catch for Stills to make, who wanted to expand their career to new heights. Their original moniker had to be changed because he refused to become a session musician and demanded equal control with the rest of the band. So CSNY was born, aside from Young’s newly formed group Crazy Horse.
Interestingly, Young’s contract allowed him to continue working with both CSNY and Crazy Horse simultaneously. When performing with CSNY, he would perform in front of thousands of spectators, whereas Crazy Horse concerts would be smaller and more casual. The latter achieved only moderate success, which was well below that of the foursome. These made Young struggle with grasping the reality of what he was dealing with both as a performer of his group and with CSNY.
“It’s like living two different lives,” Young told Rolling Stone. “People who see me and come over and want to talk to me because of Crosby, Stills and Nash are weird compared to the people I know through Crazy Horse; and then there’s the people I know who don’t have anything to do with either one of them, who are a whole other trip, and by the time the day’s over I’m just completely screwed up.”
For Young, CSNY’s success totally blew his mind. “The tours we’ve done have been pretty successful. I don’t know, it’s blowing my mind – a lot of the applause, a lot of the reaction and everything. I don’t know how it got so big – I knew it was gonna be big and everything because when I joined them they had a lot of hype out and everything.” After his brief stint with the band which built the support of his career, Neil Young decided to go solo which, thankfully, became the icon that we know today.