Protest 100: Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – ‘Ohio’

Artist:          Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

Song:           Ohio

Album:        So Far (1974, greatest hits)

Producer:    Bill Halverson

Label:          Atlantic

Year:           1970

Notes:
The Ohio National Guard opened fire on a crowd of students protesting the Vietnam War on the campus of Kent State University, May 4, 1970. The more than 60 rounds discharged killed four, paralyzed one, and left eight others wounded. Neil Young wrote ‘Ohio’ after seeing images of the scene in the next issue of Life magazine. It was recorded live on May 21, 1970, and released in June, despite the Graham Nash-penned ‘Teach Your Children’ (itself only released that May) still climbing the charts.

Pop-culture historian and journalist David Bianculli told The Cleveland (Ohio) Plain Dealer in 2010: “It was the quickest and best reaction to Kent State, with Neil Young acting as 50% songwriter and 50% journalist. And nobody stopped to think, ‘What will this do to our other hit? What will this do to our image? What will the advertisers think?’ They just thought, ‘This is important and needs to be on the air.’”

Bianculli continued: “After the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, you felt kind of helpless as a young person. It seemed that when someone had your voice, that voice was silenced, usually by violence. Then you have Kent State, and college kids are actually fired upon. And when you just might start to be thinking, you don’t dare have a voice or there is no voice, from the radio comes this voice of solidarity and outrage. It wasn’t just a pop song.”

A live version of ‘Ohio’ was released on 1971’s ‘4 Way Street.’ You can hear it at the end of the post.

Excerpt from ‘Unreality’  —
Oklahoma statute no longer prohibited such an establishment. But Johnson had been around the block enough times to realize that one of two things would seal the place’s fate: the busybodies would rise from their couches to close any legal loopholes, or some fool would shoot himself or somebody else.

Lyrics:
Tin soldiers and Nixon’s coming
We’re finally on our own
This summer I hear the drumming
Four dead in Ohio

Gotta get down to it
Soldiers are cutting us down
Should have been done long ago
What if you knew her
And found her dead on the ground?
How can you run when you know?

Gotta get down to it
Soldiers are cutting us down
Should have been done long ago
What if you knew her
And found her dead on the ground
How can you run when you know?

Tin soldiers and Nixon’s coming
We’re finally on our own
This summer I hear the drumming
Four dead in Ohio
Four dead in Ohio (four dead)
Four dead in Ohio (four)
Four dead in Ohio
Four dead in Ohio (how many more?)
Four dead in Ohio (why?)
Four dead in Ohio (oh)
Four dead in Ohio (oh)
Four dead in Ohio (why?)
Four dead in Ohio (why?)
Four dead in Ohio (why?)
Four dead in Ohio

 —

‘Protest 100’s mission is two-fold: dispelling the myth that heavy metal is a brainless, socially unaware music genre, and raising awareness of the issues facing our country in the Nov. 3, 2020 election. The path won’t be exclusively metal—some punk and rap and other stuff will be in here too, including the classics—and is not a ranking. All songs are songs I’ve heard while putting this list together, ordered in a manner designed to entertain and educate.

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