This is one of David Crosby’s most direct, confrontational and politically motivated musical statements. Although penned in response to a specific incident -- the assassination of Bobby Kennedy -- the song’s call to arms message continues to resonate. While Crosby takes credit for writing the tune, he is also quick to add that it was Stephen Stillswho brought the track to life. As he had done throughout a majority of the Crosby, Stills & Nash (1969) debut effort, Stills, ever the multi-instrumentalist, provides “Long Time Gone” with a remarkably solid bed of bass, organ and some scathing lead electric guitar, perfectly complementing the lyrical content. Meanwhile, the track’s cohesive ‘live’ band sound is augmented only by drummer Dallas Taylor and Crosby’s own strident rhythm guitar work.
The obvious disgust and resentment in Crosby’s vocal delivery has, if anything, grown more resolute in the subsequent decades as the message of questioning authority and the rights of the individual to be heard and acknowledged by their respective governments continued to be challenged. There are several notable concert recordings of “Long Time Gone” available. The song -- especially when Neil Young was in the fold -- became a tremendous showcase -- as well as showdown -- for the three electric guitar slingers Crosby, Stills and Young. The live version by the quartet can be heard on Four Way Street (1971), while an equally incendiary reading can be found by the core trio on No Nukes (1980). Plus, Crosby has also issued solo performances on It’s All Coming Back To Me Now … (1994) -- featuring Nash on vocals -- and with CPR on Live at the Wiltern (1999).