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Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young

Fifty by Four: Half a Century of CSNY DVD

Review by Gary Hill

I’ve always been a fan of Crosby, Stills and Nash, but I’ve also especially liked the stuff they’ve done with Neil Young. This has always been an unusual outfit, though. I mean, different combinations record here and there and it’s a lot about individuals. This documentary makes that even  more clear. I learned a lot, even though I also knew a lot. 

This documentary is about two and a half hours. As one might guess, that makes it extensive. This serious of DVDs sometimes has problems. The fact that they are generally unauthorized is often glaring. That generally means no artist direct interviews specifically for the set and no music used as the background for the narration. They generally pull it off with public domain items and interviews with some people related to the group along with licensing previous interview and music clips. Some times that doesn’t work all that well. In this instance it works great. Another problem these videos have is that the narrator can sometimes drone on a bit much and seem rather boring. Again, this one avoids that problem.

I will say, though, that it isn’t entirely successful. I mean, in order to really tell the story of this outfit, you have to go pretty deeply into the history of where each of these guys came from and the scene in which they emerged. I personally think there is a bit too much about that here. They could have probably trimmed at least a half an hour and had it not negatively impact this documentary. Still, this is quite a good film, anyway. I’d highly recommended to anyone who has ever enjoyed CSN&Y or any of the individual musicians.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2014  Volume 2 at

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