Wednesday, May 18, 2011

THE ROCK SONG OF THE DAY IS: CROSBY, STILLS, NASH & YOUNG - OHIO

"Ohio", by CSNY
"Ohio" is a protest song written and composed by Neil Young in reaction to the Kent State shootings of May 4, 1970, and performed by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

It was released as a single, backed with Stephen Stills's "Find the Cost of Freedom," peaking at #14 on the Billboard Hot 100. Although a live version of the song was included on the group's 1971 double album Four Way Street, the studio versions of both songs did not appear on an LP until the group's compilation So Far was released in 1974. The song also appeared on the Neil Young compilation album Decade, released in 1977.
It also appears on Young's Live at Massey Hall album, which he recorded in 1971 but did not release until 2007.

Young wrote the lyrics to "Ohio" after seeing the photos of the incident in Life Magazine. On the evening that CSN&Y entered Record Plant Studios in Los Angeles, the song had already been rehearsed, and the quartet with their regular rhythm section recorded it live in just a few takes. During the same session they recorded the single's equally direct B-side, Stephen Stills's ode to the war's dead, "Find the Cost of Freedom." The record was mastered with the participation of the four principals, rush-released by Atlantic and heard on the radio with only a few weeks delay.

The lyrics help evoke the turbulent mood of horror, outrage and shock in the wake of the shootings, especially the line "four dead in Ohio," repeated throughout the song. "Tin soldiers and Nixon coming" refers to the Ohio National Guardsmen who killed the student protesters and Young's attribution of their deaths to the President of the United States, Richard Nixon.

Crosby once stated that Young keeping Nixon's name in the lyrics was "the bravest thing I ever heard." The American counterculture took the group as its own after this song, giving the four a status as leaders and spokesmen they would enjoy to varying extent for the rest of the decade.

After the double's release, it was banned from some AM radio stations because of the challenge to the Nixon Administration in the lyrics, but received airplay on then-illegal underground FM stations in larger cities and college towns. Today, the song receives regular airplay on classic rock stations on both FM and on Sirius XM's various channels. The song was selected as the 385th Greatest Song of All Time by Rolling Stone in December 2004.

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