Ohio – Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young – 1970

One of the best known protest songs from the years of the Vietnam War focuses on an event that’s 42 years old this week – Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s 1970 hit, Ohio.


I confess, I didn’t actually hear this song this week but, for those of you who LIKE seventiesmusic on Facebook, you’ll have seen in This Week in Music, that this Saturday – May 4th – is the 42nd anniversary of this song.

42 years!!! Where does the time go? (as my grandma used to say).

c s n & y

Crosby, Stills, and Nash began as (and still tour as) a trio – Young joined later. All three members had belonged to a significant band; David Crosby = The Byrds, Stephen Stills = the fabulous Buffalo Springfield, and Graham Nash = The Hollies.

spreading the word

From the beginning the band made no secret of their political leanings with regards to the Vietnam War. They recorded two songs venting their displeasure.

The first was Chicago, an answer to the trial of the Chicago 7 – a group of anti-war activists arrested during demonstrations and riots in downtown Chicago during the Democratic National Convention of 1968.

The second song,  Ohio, was a response to the deaths of four students at Kent State University. The students were shot by Ohio National Guardsmen during an anti-war protest on 4th May 1970.

There were a number of aspects to Ohio that made it revolutionary. In the main, that it was so bold in its denouncing of the US Government and its role in the Vietnam conflict. It even went as far as to name the then President, Richard Nixon.

The band continues to concern itself with political issues. Their latest statement is contained within the song, Almost Gone (The Ballad Of Bradley Manning), which protests the conditions surrounding the trial of Bradley Manning.

ohio fax

  • Ohio was written by Neil Young. He wrote the lyrics after seeing the photos in Life Magazine of the killing of four students at Kent State University.
  • Ohio was recorded live in just three takes.
  • Ohio peaked at #14 on the US singles chart.
  • David Crosby once said;

Neil keeping Nixon’s name in that song is the bravest thing I ever heard.

  • Ohio was banned by some radio stations because of its challenge to the Nixon Administration.
  • In 2004, Ohio was listed as the 385th Greatest Song of All Time by Rolling Stone Magazine.
  • Neil Young said Ohio was the best song he wrote with CSN&Y. He included it on his 1977 Greatest Hits album Decade.
  • Neil Young continued to be politically active. He was a vocal critic of American foreign policy throughout the Vietnam War and became a voice of dissent during the George W. Bush administration, when songs like Let’s Impeach The President spoke out against the president and his war in Iraq.
  • Ohio has been covered by: The Isley Brothers, Paul Weller, Devo (two members of Devo were students at Kent State University when the killings occurred – Chrissie Hyne was also a student at the time), Mott the Hoople. The Dandy Warhols placed a version of the song on their 2004 B-sides and covers album Come on Feel the Dandy and Ben Harper.
  • Ohio lyrics.

ohio – crosby, stills, nash and young – 1970 – video

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