Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
First Appeared at The Music Box, March 2000, Volume 7, #3
Written by John Metzger
Admittedly, upon first hearing Looking Forward, the latest disc from Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, one is left wanting something more. Let's face it, the quartet does have a lot to live up to — even with only a handful of albums under their belt and only one certifiable classic (Déjà Vu). However, setting aside any preconceived notions and allowing the music contained on Looking Forward to wash over oneself will certainly prove to be a rewarding experience, and the album reveals itself to be not nearly as bad as some would have fans believe. There's no question that this is a bit of a departure from the standard fare offered by CSNY, but 30 years have passed since Déjà Vu was released. Simply put, get over it — the band certainly has, and Looking Forward is a welcome return to the studio.
Looking Forward carries with it the hopes and dreams of aging hippies looking back on their lives and reflecting upon how America has changed during that time. Consequently, there's a sense of disillusionment that pervades the album. CSNY have kept up the fight, but is anyone listening? Neil Young sings on the title track, "Writing a song, won't take very long/Trying not to use the word ‘old'," and not surprisingly, David Crosby delivers a socio-political commentary (Stand and Be Counted). In addition, Graham Nash sings on Heartland, "People come and go/Living other lives/Running everywhere at such a speed/Never taking time to open up their eyes," to which Neil Young counters on Slowpoke, "When I was faster I was always behind." Just what has America become as we race forward to nowhere in particular at a rapidly increasing pace?
Looking Forward is a two-tiered message — a song cycle that speaks to the generation that grew up in the '60s as well as it does to the one growing up today. On No Tears Left, Stephen Stills addresses the '90s adolescents — "So things have gotten weird for you/The foolish do the things they do/Mostly talk right at you without speaking," and later adds "So go ahead and rage and fight/Insist on finding your own light/As wisdom cannot be confused by freedom."
The problem, of course, lies in the fact that much of today's youth will probably never hear Looking Forward, except as it plays on their parent's stereo. Yet, CSNY are still determined to carry forth the torch of their classic hit Teach Your Children, and looking at it from that perspective completes the cycle — they seem to be saying to parents, "Let go of your children. They're just doing what you did," and therein lies the hope that hides behind the quartet's disillusion.
Looking Forward is available
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2000 The Music Box