As rock’s first supergroup, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young captivated listeners with their soaring harmonies and glowing acoustic arrangements. Joining forces in 1968, the four songbirds— David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, and occasional member Neil Young— seized the American music landscape during the Vietnam era. Their timely, vivid lyrics flew over the airwaves, urging peace and affirming protest during a period of intense political turmoil.
Tensions particularly mounted in 1970, following the May 4th massacre of student protestors at Kent State University. CSNY responded accordingly, releasing one of their most magnetic tracks, “Ohio,” a few weeks later. Recorded in just a few takes, the song is a rugged anthem of the counterculture. The mellifluous acoustics featured on the group’s earlier album, Déjà vu, were of no use here— on “Ohio,” CSNY instead traded their warm strums for thumping electric riffs and a searing refrain, a fitting transition for an embittered America.
CSNY began performing the song immediately thereafter in a six-night run of shows at the Fillmore East in New York City. Here at Paste, you can hear the uncut original version of “Ohio,” recorded at that concert on this day in 1970. Listen to the historic, stormy track below.