Were you getting comments from the other guys as you and Joel put the set together? With so many songs and three other people to please, the potential for problems could grow exponentially.
“The possibilities were endless. I kept the boys apprised of what I was doing. David and Stephen trust me. They know that I’m a democratic person, and I want everyone to shine on everything – it’s understood. And then there’s Neil…
“Neil wasn’t enthusiastic about revisiting the past. He never is, and I understand that. Having said that, with Joel Bernstein, I made a rough demo of the idea. None of it was mixed or fixed or anything like that, but there was an energy to it. I drove up to Neil’s ranch and sat him down and said, ‘This is what I wanna do.’ Once he heard what I had in mind, he said, ‘Right. Absolutely, go ahead. I can’t help you with it ‘cause I’m busy.’ I was a busy boy myself, but I wanted history to recognize that Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young were a really decent rock ‘n’ roll band.”
What condition were the tapes in? Did you have to bake any of them?
“I’ve been the one who’s in charge of archiving all of our tapes. For the last 30 years or so, they’ve been in a storage facility. It’s a Swiss system – very low temperature, halon gas protected. Everything was in really good shape – pristine. I didn’t have to bake anything, which was amazing. So that pleased me to no end.
“There are no overdubs on the record, none anywhere on the 40 songs. If something was out of tune, I would either tune or I’d find it from another show – I’d find something at roughly the same tempo and I’d put it on. I did a lot of sweetening, not necessarily in terms of tuning but in balancing the band. I mean, God bless [drummer] Russell Kunkel and [bassist] Tim Drummond – what an incredible rhythm section. And God bless Stephen, Neil and David for being able to sing and play like they did. We went from one song with an acoustic guitar to blazing rock ‘n’ roll.”
So how did it fall on your shoulders to be the band’s tape archivist?
“I just think I’m the only one with the patience for it.”