Digital Classroom: CSNY, "Ohio"
On May 4, 1970, National Guardsmen called in to quiet Vietnam War protests taking place at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio, fired into a crowd, killing four students. Photographs of the shooting’s aftermath served as the immediate inspiration for Neil Young, who wrote “Ohio." Within weeks of the Kent State shootings, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young—a folk-rock supergroup formed in the late 1960s—had recorded and released the song. Some radio stations refused to play “Ohio” because of its controversial lyrics, but many listeners received the record as an impetus to question the Vietnam War. It has since become one of the most famous protest songs of the 1970s, due in part to the compelling vocal harmonies of David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, and Neil Young.