Random Access: Daylight Again

Crosby   Hello again, and welcome to another Random Access where I randomly pick out an album from my collection and do an in-depth review of the album. Hope everyone had a good 4th of July, I know I did,I got to see some fireworks, eat some good food, and drink some beer, whats more American than that right.

Anyways tonight I have picked Daylight Again by Crosby, Stills, and Nash. Crosby, Stills and Nash is the folk-rock supergroup that came out of the late 1960’s. Comprised of David Crosby, Stephen Stills, and Graham Nash, the group came together after all three members other bands fell apart. David Crosby had been in the popular group the Byrds, but due to disagreements within the band he was kicked out in 1968. Stephen Stills from the band Buffalo Springfield was also let go in the late 60’s and began playing and writing songs with Crosby. Their first song “Wooden Ships” came about after jamming on Crosby’s boat. Graham Nash who was in The Hollies decided to leave in the summer of 69 and after meeting Crosby during a tour in the UK decided to join the other two members. With all three making it big in previous bands the trio soon realized that they had something special. Their rich harmonies and deep personal songwriting made it easy for the group to come up with material and after failing to be picked up by the Beatles label Apple Records, the group was snatched up by Atlantic and by May of 1969 their first album “Crosby, Stills, and Nash” was released. The three decided to go with each of their individual names rather than a band name so as not to complicate the situation. With both Buffalo Springfield and The Hollies continuing to record after the departure of Stills and Nash, the group wanted to makes sure the same didn’t happen here. With their first album and two Top 40 hits under their belt the three brought in a fourth member Neil Young. Young being a former member of Buffalo Springfield with Stephen Stills was almost passed up because of the two’s continued animosity towards one another, however the two were able to put aside their differences and make some incredible music together.

Daylight Again is the bands 4th studio album and is without Neil Young, coming out in 1982 it peaked at number 8 on the Billboard Top Pop Albums list and was the last one since.  Although this album ranked rather high when it came out and spawned 3 singles on the Billboard Top 100 list, this album is a far cry from the well written folk songs of the groups past. The album starts off with “Turn Your Back on Love”, written by Stills and Nash this song is the embodiment of 80’s music. The music on this track is way over produced and the lyrics(you guessed it) which are about turning your back on love just don’t do anything for me. I mean these two are well established songwriters and this sounds like it was written by some up and coming pop artist. However, with the song “Wasted on the Way” which peaked at number 9 on the Top 100 list, I was brought back in. This is an acoustic tune that reminds me more of the CS&N that I know and love. Written by Graham Nash this song deals with getting older and looking back on the life you’ve wasted. Although I don’t think the lyrics on this particular track are all that great it’s a step up compared to the opening song, I feel like at least in this song he had something to say and both musically and lyrically Nash makes me want to pay attention. By track three I was starting to feel that maybe my initial reaction of this album was a little to harsh. “Southern Cross” peaked at number 18 and is really the only so-called hit on this album for me. Although two other songs made on the Billboard list, this was the only song I recognized and in my opinion the best song on the album. Written by Stephen Stills, this song talks about a man who is sailing the world looking for a lost lover. The title describes a constellation sailors use to navigate in the southern part of the hemisphere. Again this is another acoustic song that has very soft pop elements and a very good storytelling quality to it.

unfortunately, after “Southern Crossing” this album takes a huge dive. Aside from a few good songs at the very end of the record, the album becomes a collection of  bad love songs with the occasional song about the water. One such song titled “Delta” which is the first and only other song written by David Crosby on the album, is yet another track that uses rivers as metaphors for roads not taken or times that have drifted by. This song like many of the others on the album just doesn’t do anything for me, the music is awful with its piano like ballad and the lyrics are even worse. I do however feel for David Crosby, it must have been difficult for him on this record. “Daylight Again” was originally supposed to be a Steven Stills and Graham Nash production, but because Atlantic records wanted that familiar CS&N sound they opted to have David Crosby on the record for a couple of tracks. Although most of his parts were added in later after the other two members laid down theirs.
Love must have been on Stills and Nash’s minds during the writing process for this album because it is definitely a recurring theme on this album. The second half of this record is all about the love. Songs like “Since I Met You”, “Too Much Love to Hide” and “Song for Susan” deliver yet again bad over produced music with cheesy, and unimaginative lyrics. I can’t stress this enough I don’t know how such three talented songwriters could come up with these songs, they just seem uninspired. I mean even Bob Dylan has written bad songs, but even his worst songs usually don’t leave you disappointed lyrically. Maybe it was just the 80’s and everyone was still coming down from their cocaine high and the neon lights were having some sort of chemical reaction in their heads.

After almost drowning in bad pop music and lyrics with no substance, the album once again starts to get its footing back, unfortunately it doesn’t happen until the final two tracks on the record. On “Might As Well Have A Good Time” David Crosby is given a chance to redeem himself and we see the group doing what they do best for the first time on the whole album, harmonizing. On this track all three musicians lend their voices at the same time, whereas before Crosby was usually left out of the loop and forced to record his harmonies at a later time. “Might As Well Have a Good time” once again is a song about being close to the water and compares the sea to an old man playing the piano. The chorus, I belong on the shore/Hustling nickles and dimes/Because it ain’t long/Before it’s gone/Might as well have a good time describes how nothing lasts forever and if you’re gonna live have a good time. The closing track on this record is definitely my next favorite song along with “Southern Cross”. “Daylight Again,” written by Stephen Stills is a story about a solider coming back to camp just as the daylight is breaking, he lays down for some rest and starts thinking about the consequences of war. For me this song is very familiar too a lot of CS&N’s earlier songs that were very political and antiwar. The line, I think I saw a valley/Covered with bones of blue/All the brave soldiers that cannot get older/Been asking after you describes this soldier maybe dealing with all the life he as taken and what kind of man this will make him. My only real complaint about this song is that it’s just too short, I mean on an album that was really lacking in substance and storytelling ability this last track was a real refreshing way to end this record. It also pissed me off because these guys are great and this could have been a much better album then it was, but I guess not every record an artist makes is going to win over everyone.
When I bought this record for 50 cents at my local antiques mall and saw the cover with UFO’s and mountains with weird-looking buildings on them, I knew that this wasn’t going to be an album that was going to change my life but it was by a respectable group who have done amazing things in the past so I thought why not. I am sorry to say that although it was worth the money, this album is much worse than I was expecting it to be and after the second and third songs were so good I was disappointed at how bad it got after that. Aside from a handful of decent songs this whole thing was a wash and I wonder looking back on it now if the band might feel the same way. When space begins to become a real issue in my collection, this album might be one of the first to go. I’ll hold on to it for now but doubt if it ever gets spun again except to hear “Southern Cross” or Daylight Again.

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