Musical palate cleanser, “Neil surprised everyone” edition

We’re at the 47th anniversary of the Kent State shootings, one of the strangest events of my adolescence.  I wasn’t politically aware at the time, but the news of killing four unarmed students on campus was unsettling to me, to say the least.

It inspired what The Guardian called “arguably the perfect protest song: moving, memorable and perfectly timed”, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s “Ohio”.

I think what really makes that song work is that Young wasn’t trying to change the world with it, so much as vent his anger.  He’s right that it was the best thing he ever did with the group.  It’s still a moving piece of work after all these years.

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31 Comments

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31 responses to “Musical palate cleanser, “Neil surprised everyone” edition

  1. Hogbody Spradlin

    In the category of protest songs that one’s up there, but Country Joe McDonald has a thing or two to say.

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  2. Jeff Sanchez

    Jason Isbell covered this at the Georgia Theatre during his three-night stand last November. It was an awesome surprise.

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  3. illini84

    I’d been home from Vietnam for 6 months. Between this and Jackson State I wasn’t sure where I was.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have to wonder, were Kent state players allowed to address this incident while wearing Kent state gear?

    This was all just a tragic mistake. They thought they saw a division of NVA’s coming out of the bookstore.

    After all we all know that governments don’t entrust people to carry guns who just shoot people for no good reason. Our country began its road to independence on that premise after what I think was referred to as the Boston Peaceful Compromise where the people of Boston and the Kings soldiers agreed to disagree and have a few Sam Adams beers to celebrate their agreement. I may have some of those details confused.

    I’m sure that in the end the 13 people who were shot are to blame for the tragedy in that they triggered the 27 or 28 soldiers to shoot them and then to have to go through the trauma of getting away with it. Very sad for them today….

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  5. Hogbody Spradlin

    Nick Saban was a student at Kent State then.

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  6. AusDawg85

    A little off topic but just visited DC. Went to the Vietnam War Memorial to see if I could finally handle observing, remembering and studying the names on the wall. Still couldn’t do it, started to get emotional when I saw an elderly couple with pencil and paper rubbing a name on the wall and had to walk away. First saw it when the model toured to Atlanta in the mid-80’s and can never stop getting choked-up. Very interesting contrast to equally well done but totally different WW II and Korean War Memorials.

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    • BMan

      Similar experience. Visited 9/11 memorial and found two buddies names, but overheard woman explaining to three young teens that the twisted chunk of metal was from the floor where their daddy worked…lost it.

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    • Debby Balcer

      I visited and took a picture of my mom’s cousin’s first husband’s name. It took me back to being an Army brat and having my dad leave for Viet Nam. He came back but I knew other kids whose dads did not. The monument reminds me of the Arizona in its affect. That was a horrible time in our country abroad and at hone. I still vividly recall the protesters in front of the gates to enter our base. It was very traumatic.

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  7. If I remember correctly it was a bunch of 18 and 19 yo National Guardsmen who paniced and started shooting without orders. The officier was beating them on the head to try to stop the shooting. Undisciplined troops, a bad day for our Armed Forces.

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  8. sniffer

    That song was one of, if not the first, times I learned about business being greater than art. Around 1977-78, I wanted to hear “Ohio” and called 96Rock to request it. DJ, or guy who answered the phone says, ” yeah, hang on, that’s a good tune. Let me check and see if it’s on our play list…..Naw, it’s not. We can only play songs that are on the charts right now”. Or something to that effect. I was flabbergasted that my fav rock station wasn’t as pure as I had allowed myself to believe. So, I put on a SuperTramp album instead.

    I may have added that part about the SuperTramp album, but the rest is true.

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  9. From a CFB perspective, it’s crazy that Nick Saban and Gary Pinkel were both on campus at the time as teammates on the football team.

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  10. Got Cowdog

    I was two when this happened, obviously I wasn’t cognizant of it at the time. History classes i was involved in glossed over it as a protest gone awry, a tragedy, which it was. I really never gave it much thought, but spent a little time on it today. The Wiki link is pretty good. what led up to it and the timeline.The images are disturbing. They were just kids.

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    • Macallanlover

      They all were, the shooters as well. Lots of guys in college those days were in the National Guard on weekends, they were called up a few times while in school for serious domestic actions: Kent State, MLK shooting, inner city rioting, etc. They were just young students, but they were thrown into some tough places with very little training. These weren’t disciplined professionals like you would have today, could be easily spooked and over react. Hell of a 3-4 year period in our history, still alive in some ways.

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      • Got Cowdog

        That’s what I read. My son is currently a junior at UGA. I can’t imagine.

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      • Shane#1

        Ditto on the training. First the Guardsmen had loaded weapons. A no no in riot control. Then the commander divided his forces, another blunder according to the Army manual. It is very easy for troops to panic if they think they are outnumbered and surrounded. The men also were not properly equipped, no visors, no riot shields. I think the biggest mistake was the Kent State President not cancelling classes. M-14 rifles being fired on a campus with some kids trying to get to their classes is a disaster waiting to happen. Those 7.62 bullets are deadly for miles.

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        • Got Cowdog?

          kids likely would have shown up for the protest anyway. I don’t get the heavy handed response. Why the national guard? Where were the local and state police?

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  11. 69Dawg

    I was in the Regular Army when it happened and most of us were critical of the use of National Guards to handle a college protest. The police were not trained as paramilitary units at the time so the NG was called on. The times were different though, a lot of the Guards were just trying to get out of the draft in the most honorable way. They got 6 months of training then sat on their butts two days a month for “Drill”. Most of those guys hadn’t fire his weapon or even handled one since Basic Training and AIT. Whoever ordered the guns be loaded was ultimately at fault. Looking back on the late 60’s and 70’s the protests, except for the intercity riots, were middle compared to today. This country is as divided now as it ever was including the War Between the States.

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    • Got Cowdog?

      Thanks for your service, 69. And thanks for the history lesson. I agree we are divided, but maybe not as divided as 1861. That one was a doozie. 😎
      I wonder if our current division has a root of plenty.

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    • I was in the strange situation of being RA but spending half my tour in the Nam in one of the 8 guard units that got sent in 68.

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  12. Oddly Arlo was talking about the Russians in the first verse.

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  13. Got Cowdog?

    Again, thank you both and all those who served for your service and I am in awe of the sacrifice you and your brothers in arms have made.
    That being said, I have no problem calling you out here on GTP if you disagree with my thoughts on Quarterback play, offensive line issues,and coach’s brain farts to ask you to defend your position.
    Love this blog.

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