Airdate – Sep 18, 2022
Reflecting on a hit record he wrote in May of 1970, this songwriter was quoted as saying:
“I had the Time magazine there, with that girl looking up from a dead student lying on the ground with the blood and the whole deal. I just wrote it. It just came out right there on the porch. It was really like the folk process at work. You know, that was really like music as news.” …
The event being reflected upon is the Kent State massacre of May 4, 1970 that saw the National Guard kill four students and injure nine during an anti-war protest that went awry.
The songwriter was Neil Young who would go on to say that:
“It’s still hard to believe I had to write this song. It’s ironic that I capitalized on the deaths of these American students. Probably the biggest lesson ever learned at an American place of learning. My best Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young cut.”
Band member, Graham Nash, would subsequently make the following observation:
“What band would have a song like “Teach Your Children” racing up the charts and then immediately kill it stone dead when four students were killed? Neil wrote, Ohio, and we recorded it and put it out within 10 days. People in the business thought we were absolutely crazy.”
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s recording make it onto the Billboard Hot 100 on June 27, 1970. It made its way to the #14 position and remained on the charts for 9 weeks.
Yes, it was a commercial success, but it was also a wakeup call for America, one that has not been forgotten.
It’s title comes from the state this tragic incident occurred. Here’s Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young with “Ohio,” this week’s Tom Locke moment in time.
YouTube video of this song: