With Mother’s day having just passed, and Father’s day coming up shortly, my mind is on family. Music has always been a shared passion for everyone in my family and a wonderful bond for us. My parents raised my siblings and me on great music and we’d play the “who sings this” game every morning on the drive to school. Sometimes when we’d all be cooking together, we would blast CSNY and dance around while we worked. It is no surprise then that this Tunesday I’ve picked two of my favorite CSNY songs:
“Teach Your Children”, and “Our House”
“Teach Your Children” has so much more history and meaning than most people are aware of. It was originally written by Graham Nash, when he was a member of The Hollies, but never recorded and ultimately used on this CSNY album, Deja Vu. Like so many other songs from that collaborative decade, it features another famous musician; Jerry Garcia. He offered to play pedal steel guitar on “Teach Your Children,” if CSNY would teach the members of the Grateful Dead how to sing harmony for two of their upcoming albums. What makes this song even more special to me, Graham Nash attributes his inspiration for this song to Diane Arbus’ photograph: “Child With Toy Hand Grenade in Central Park.” If you’ve never seen the picture before, it is of a young boy with an angry, almost confused look on his face holding a toy grenade. This song was Nash’s reflection on, and reaction to, how children are exposed to, and effected by, war and other political issues.
Nash, who also wrote “Our House,” said it “was born, out of an incredibly ordinary moment that many, many people have experienced.” When I close my eyes and listen to this song, I envision my childhood home, and my house in the future. Despite being based on Nash’s activities during one particular day, it has the power to belong to anyone who listens to it. I hope everyone experiences at least one of those moments in life where something as simple as putting flowers in a vase, or lighting a fire brings extreme joy and happiness.
Fun music fact: It was written one morning while Nash was living with Joni Mitchell.