Bob Dylan and… Crosby, Stills & Nash

By Aaron Galbraith

Let’s start with David Crosby here. Crosby and Dylan have been friendly since the mid-60s since Bob dropped into an early Byrd’s session. But Crosby says he heard him before he ever even made a record:

“I first heard him in New York City and he was the hot new thing right then. My first thought was…’I can sing better than that!’ Then I started listening to the words…I had to think really hard if I wanted to try and stay in the music business! His songs took you on voyages and I was completely impressed by the time I walked out of there.”

Further adventures with Dylan followed as outlined by Tony in his review for “Day Of The Locusts”.

Here is a nice video of Dylan sharing a mic with Crosby during a version of “Mr Tambourine Man” with McGuinn and Hillman in the 1990 Roy Orbison Tribute Concert.

In the same year, Crosby was also asked to sing backing vocals on some of the tracks on “Under The Red Sky” – including “Born In Time” and “2×2”.

“…He’s got his own style! He tends to want to catch some kind of magic in the moment that isn’t too rehearsed. He said, “Well let’s do this song”, and I said, “Sure, why don’t you show it to me so we can work out a harmony? He said ”urrgghh…okay” and sings me the song. I asked if he could do it again and he said, “Let’s just go in the studio.”

We go in and I try my level best to sing something that makes with the song but, of course, when he goes in the studio he sings it different than the time before. That’s his nature. He’s anything but a harmony singer. He’s fun to hang with, certainly fun to talk to, and writes fantastic lyrics, but he doesn’t make it easy on somebody to sing harmony with”.

Moving onto Stephen Stills now. His first performance of a Dylan song came on the “Super Sessions” album with Bloomfield/Kooper/Stills…although Bloomfield and Stills never actually played together. Bloomfield appears on side 1 and Stills on side 2. And it is on side 2 we find this excellent version of “It Takes A lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry.”

One further Dylan cover came on the 1991 acoustic album “Stills Alone”. Here is a wonderful take of “Ballad Of Hollis Brown”.


A track from Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young 1999 reunion album “Looking Forward” called “Seen Enough” uses the verbal meter and rhythm from “Subterranean Homesick Blues” – so much so that Stills even calls it out on the sleeve notes. It is one of Stills finest lyric in my opinion. Here is a live version with the full CSNY band, see what you think.

Last, but not least its Graham Nash. Going back to his time with The Hollies, Dylan is the very reason why he left the group. They wanted to record an all Dylan covers album called “The Hollies Sing Dylan”. Nash was against the idea from the start for 2 reasons, firstly, he had enough great songs of his own he wanted to record and secondly, he did not like the schmaltzy showbizzy arrangements they had come up with. He stuck around for one song “Blowing In The Wind” (Blow-o-o-o-in in the wind) and then split to hang with Crosby and Stills. He wasn’t wrong!

In 1969 Nash took part in a song swap session at Johnny Cash’s house with Dylan, Cash, Joni Mitchell and Roy Orbison amongst others. Each participant told stories and sang songs they had recently written, but not yet recorded. Mitchell sang “Both Sides Now”, Shel Silverstein sang, “A Boy Named Sue”, Kristofferson sang “Me & Bobby McGee”. Dylan stopped everyone in their tracks when he sang “Lay Lady Lay”. And Nash sang “Marrakesh Express”. His was the only song that Dylan asked to be sung again. I’m sure he has dined out on the story many a time over the years. Years later Johnny Cash wrote a song about the night for the 2nd Highwaymen album – “Songs That Make A Difference”.

Here is “Marrakesh Express” – the song that impressed Dylan so much.


In 1979 Graham Nash was involved in the MUSE – No Nukes concert and joined John Hall, James Taylor and Carly Simon in a version of “The Times They Are A-Changin’”. The version was released on the accompanying album.

Now that the three members appear to have had a permanent falling out, it seems unlikely that we will see any further music from the group. So let’s close with a video of all three in happier times, from the live album “CSN 2012” here is a version of “Girl From The North Country.”

There is an index to other articles in this series, here.

What else is on the site

You’ll find some notes about our latest posts arranged by themes and subjects on the home page.  You can also see details of our main sections on this site at the top of this page under the picture.

The index to all the 594 Dylan compositions and co-compositions that we have found on the A to Z page.

We also have a very lively discussion group “Untold Dylan” on Facebook with over 2000 active members.  (Try imagining a place where it is always safe and warm).  Just type the phrase “Untold Dylan” in, on your Facebook page or follow this link 

If you are interested in Dylan’s work from a particular year or era, your best place to start is Bob Dylan year by year.

On the other hand if you would like to write for this website, please do drop me a line with details of your idea, or if you prefer, a whole article.  Email

And please do note   The Bob Dylan Project, which lists every Dylan song in alphabetical order, and has links to licensed recordings and performances by Dylan and by other artists, links back to our reviews

One comment

  1. From what Graham Nash has said over the years, it wasn’t “Marrakesh Express” that Dylan asked him to sing again that night at Cash’s house. It was a few years later in a hotel room when Crosby & Nash sang Nash’s “Southbound Train” to Dylan. That’s the one he asked to hear twice. Nash has told the story in concert on a number of occasions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *