Neil Young – 4 Dead in Ohio

On-screen: OHIO was the anti-war protest anthem to end the DOMINOES decade and the portrait series.CSNY recorded OHIO just after the Ohio National Guard killed four students in anti-war demonstrations at Kent State University provoked by President Nixon’s announcement of the US and South Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia on April 30, 1970. The escalation of hostilities in Southeast Asia and the killings at Kent State left the young Vietnam War generation feeling suckered and with the need “to get down to it… should have been done long ago.” It helped to mark the beginning of the end for Richard Nixon.

The spiraling intensity of Neil Young’s chant, “… four dead in OHIO” paces the turmoil within the Nixon-Agnew administration as tax fraud and Watergate scandals forced them to resign despite ending American involvement in Vietnam. OHIO is most dramatic, however, as Neil Young’s raucous guitar underscores evacuation of the last Americans from Vietnam as Saigon fell to the advancing North Vietnamese Army.

Soundtrack Notes:  Neil Young’s OHIO was released in 1971 on CSNY’s 4 WAY STREET on Atlantic Records. The DOMINOES recording of Neil Young’s song comes from the soundtrack to JOURNEY THROUGH THE PAST (Atlantic, 1972).  CSNY re-released OHIO on SO FAR in 1974 (Atlantic Records).

Context: At Southern University and Jackson State College, more students were shot dead. And at Attica State Prison in upstate New York, 55 rebel inmates were shot at point-blank range with twelve gauge shotguns. The establishment had drawn the line. But in the spring of 1972, even more campuses were seized by students – and were seized more violently – than in any of the previous four years, perhaps proving that the younger generation was less afraid of the older generation, than the older generation was of it.

Shortly after his reelection, Nixon reneged on his campaign promise to sign the agreements that would lead to the end of the Vietnam War. But the Watergate scandal – where Nixon’s campaign committee broke into and stole files from the Democratic Party Headquarters – would eventually force him to the conference table. Several months later – on the twenty-first anniversary of the Battle of Diem Bien Phu, and exactly one year later than Ho Chi Minh had predicted – Saigon fell. The end of the war also marked the end of the decade.

[Excerpt from Wikipedia]

Neil Percival Young (born November 12, 1945) is a Canadian singer-songwriter, musician and film director.

Neil Young’s work is characterized by deeply personal lyrics, distinctive guitar work, and signature falsetto singing voice.  Although he accompanies himself on several different instruments—including piano and harmonica, his clawhammer acoustic guitar style and often idiosyncratic electric guitar soloing are the linchpins of a sometimes ragged, sometimes polished sound. Although Neil Young has experimented widely with differing music styles, including swing, jazz, rockabilly, blues, and electronic music throughout a varied career, his best known work usually falls into either of two distinct styles: folk-esque acoustic rock (“Heart of Gold”, “Harvest Moon” and “Old Man”) and electric-charged hard rock (like “Cinnamon Girl”, “Rockin’ in the Free World” and “Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)”). In recent years, Neil Young has adopted elements from newer styles like industrial, alternative country and grunge. Young’s profound influence on the latter caused some to dub him “the Godfather of Grunge”.

Neil Young has directed (or co-directed) a number of films using the pseudonym Bernard Shakey, including Journey Through the Past (1973), Rust Never Sleeps (1979), Human Highway (1982), Greendale (2003), and CSNY Déjà Vu (2008). He is currently working on a documentary about electric car technology, tentatively titled Linc/Volt. The project involves a 1959 Lincoln Continental converted to hybrid technology, which Young plans to drive to Washington, DC as an example to lawmakers there.

Neil Young is also an outspoken advocate for environmental issues and small farmers, having co-founded in 1985 the benefit concert Farm Aid, and in 1986 helped found The Bridge School, and its annual supporting Bridge School Benefit concerts, together with his wife Pegi (in this, Young’s involvement stems at least partially from the fact that both of his sons have cerebral palsy and his daughter, like Young himself, has epilepsy).

Although Young sings as frequently about U.S. themes and subjects as he does about his native country, he retains Canadian citizenship, which he has never wanted to relinquish.

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