Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Crosby & Nash 3: Whistling Down The Wire

Less than a year after the relatively successful Wind On The Water, Crosby & Nash were back, but it wasn’t necessarily because they had tons of terrific tunes. The story goes that they were briefly part of yet another CSNY reunion. The immediate end product of that was the Stills-Young Band tour and album, neither of which included Crosby or Nash, so they went off and did Whistling Down The Wire with the same guys from the year before. Which left us with two less-than-stellar albums by people we really, really want to like.
“Spotlight” is pretty ordinary (okay, bland) for a mid-‘70s L.A. production, but “Broken Bird” at least has harmonies throughout and a nice “Helplessly Hoping”-style guitar part. “Time After Time” is very brief, over almost before it can sink it. “Dancer” begins like a typically pleasant Crosby strum, but goes way off course when he gets “heavy”. It has the potential to be one of those wonderful wordless Crosby epic, but it’s exactly the type of song that doesn’t need an electric piano. Graham closes the side with “Mutiny”; despite the title, it’s about a sailboat (what is it with these guys and sailboats?) and not about Stills and/or Young.
“J.B.’s Blues” is not a blues per se, but rather appears to be something of a Nash apology to longtime CSNY groupie/cohort Joel Bernstein. A little better is “Marguerita”, which describes a bar encounter in the barest of terms. The best song is “Taken At All”, which is the only song that appears on the box set, but in a full CSNY version that’s even better. Hearing Crosby bemoan his plight as a “Foolish Man” is a little comical considering all the trouble he got himself into over the next decade, although a glimmer of hope is offered in “Out Of The Darkness”, written with go-to keyboard guy Craig Doerge. It’s actually a nice ending to the set.
Whistling Down The Wire is a pleasant Southern California album, impeccably played and kinda dull. Because it doesn’t really have any of the high points as witnessed the year before, it’s docked half a point. If only they weren’t so mad at Stills and Young that they refused to work with them again.

David Crosby/Graham Nash Whistling Down The Wire (1976)—


  1. Love your insights on *most* of the albums you write about - and this blog is a *must read* every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. However, I have to disagree on this album - at least in the details. I've always preferred this one to 'Wind' ... and always have felt 'Margarita' is a classic slice of Nash's work. As for 'Mutiny,' it is most specifically about the insult C-N felt after the 'Long May You Run' debacle; bluebird is Stills, of course, and farmer refers to Young; added to it the monkeys and others who wanted a S-Y Springfield reunion more than a CSNY project. It's about as specific as it can get in CSNY World. Samples of the work have been released on box sets - 'Black Coral' in the CSNY version puts the S-Y version to shame. All that nitpicking aside, I love your blog, recommend it often, and keep on going, Waldo!

  2. And there you go -- I'll have to listen to the song again. Thanks for the insight, and the endorsement!