[Review] Crosby-Nash: Whistling Down The Wire (1976)

I’ve listened to this album dozens of times. There’s probably a time-management lesson in there somewhere.

CroNaMyth 3.0: Wasted on the wait.

Each Crosby & Nash album seems a little less magical than the last, as if with each rubbing of the lamp their collective genie-us grew weaker. There was still enough magic left to produce a gold record out of Whistling Down The Wire, but not enough to produce a hit single from “Out of the Darkness.” I’ve listened to this album dozens of times (it was the first C&N album I owned) and, even so, rarely walk away humming any of it.

The two Crosby-Nash songwriting collaborations—“Broken Bird,” “Taken At All”—are the obvious highlights, as they deliver on the promise of pretty harmonies and thoughtful pacing. I also enjoy Graham Nash’s bittersweet “Marguerita.” The rest of the record could accurately be described as mid 70s studio rock, of which there was hardly a deficiency during the decade. The subsequent CSN reunion revealed the Crosby & Nash collaboration for what it was: a gold solution to a multiplatinum phenomenon. When CSN dissolved again, Nash continued the experiment on his own with Earth & Sky while David Crosby wrestled with his demons.

Given the troubled history of CSN&Y, there’s no reason to believe that the Crosby-Nash affiliation was motivated by anything other than money. Of course, lots of things are motivated by money, and some of them still have benevolent consequences. As I’ve mused elsewhere, the Crosby-Nash albums were a kindness to fans because they put the pair’s best feet forward, one foot from each, so fans didn’t have to slough their way through two mediocre solo albums. And the pair had the support of the Mighty Jitters, one of the best backing bands this side of Muscle Shoals. You’ll want the proper CSN albums before this, the first two solo albums from Crosby and Nash individually and the first two C&N albums too. If you’ve acquired those and still wish for Wire, have at it. [Note: There’s also a remarkably thorough and thoughtful review of this album on a site called Alan’s Albums Reviews, which I encourage you to visit.]

Original LP Version

A1. Spotlight (Danny Kootch/Graham Nash) (2:49)
A2. Broken Bird (Graham Nash/David Crosby) (2:42)
A3. Time After Time (David Crosby) (2:30)
A4. Dancer (David Crosby) (4:48)
A5. Mutiny (Graham Nash) (4:44)
B1. J.B.’s Blues (Graham Nash) (2:40)
B2. Marguerita (Graham Nash) (4:11)
B3. Taken at All (Graham Nash/David Crosby) (3:06)
B4. Foolish Man (David Crosby) (4:27)
B5. Out of the Darkness (Craig Degree/Graham Nash/David Crosby) (4:22)

Original 8-track version
A1. J.B.’s Blues
A2. Marguerita
A3. Time After Time
B1. Dancer
B2. Out of the Darkness
C1. Foolish Man
C2. Mutiny
D1. Spotlight
D2. Broken Bird
D3. Taken at All

The Players

David Crosby (vocals, acoustic guitar), Graham Nash (vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar & harmonica), Craig Degree (Doerge) (acoustic piano, organ & glass harmonica), Tim Drummond (bass), Danny Kootch (electric guitar & dobro), Russell Kunkel (drums and percussion), David Lindley (electric guitar, slide guitar, violin, viola, pedal steel) with Laura Allen (zither), Lee Holdridge (string arrangements on A4/B5), Sid Sharpe (orchestra leader). Produced by David Crosby & Graham Nash; engineered by Stephen Barncard and Don Gooch.

The Pictures

Art direction and design by Gary Burden for R.Twerk & Company. Photography by Joel Bernstein.

The Plastic

Released on elpee on July 10, 1976* in the US (ABC, ABCD-956), the UK and the Netherlands (Polydor, 3210 468) and Japan (Polydor, MPF-1016) with lyric sleeve; reached #26 on the US charts (RIAA-certified gold record). Also released on 8-track in 1976 in the US (Alantic, TP 18184) with different track listing. (*First appeared in 7/10/76 Billboard ad.)

  1. Re-issued on remastered compact disc in 2000 in the US (MCA, 811 203).

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