Deja vu is the quintessential album of the 1960's counterculture. No less than 7 cuts from the disc, 'Carry On', 'Teach Your Children', 'Almost Cut My Hair', 'Woodstock', 'Our House', 'Deja vu', and 'Everybody I Love You' can be considered poster children for all the New Left stood for and aspired to in the late 1960's and early 1970's. It is a remarkable disc, equaled only by the debut Crosby, Stills and Nash LP in its social relevance, and in pioneering and defining the folk-rock genre.
Each of the four artists in this, the quintessential rock 'supergroup', contributes two of the most essential compositions in their careers. The album was particularly noteworthy for the writings of David Crosby ('Almost Cut My Hair' and 'Deja vu') and Graham Nash ('Teach Your Children' and 'Our House'), and the stunning background vocal contributions they provide on the Stills and Young compositions, excepting the solo acoustic '4 + 20'.
Stills, who played most of the instruments on the debut CSN LP, backs off a bit to leave room for Dallas Taylor on drums and Greg Reeves on bass. Jerry Garcia and John Sebastian are also credited with instrumental contributions. In addition to the stark '4 + 20', Stills reaches back into his past, culling lyrics from his Buffalo Springfield classic, 'Questions', to serve as a coda on the opener, 'Carry On', and springs forward into his future to graft lyrics that would open 'Know You Got To Run' from his second solo LP into 'Everybody I Love You'. Neil is given a rare co-songwriting credit on 'Everybody...' with Stills (can you name another?). In spite of their long association, they weren't exactly Lennon and McCartney!
Despite all the aforementioned blockbuster songs, CS&N were apparently insecure in releasing the disc without adding Y. Neil offers the classic composition 'Helpless' and the underplayed medley 'Country Girl', which stands high among Young's finest works. Top off the collection with the hyper, grinding, high-flying rendition of the Joni Mitchell anthem, 'Woodstock', and you have one of the finest rock albums ever produced.
The album is a near perfect mix in terms of musical styles and subject matter. Though thought of today as somewhat stereotypical in personifying the 'hippie mystique', the album 'Deja vu' is representative of the ideals youth held, or at least liked to think they held, in the midst of the various social revolutions going on around them. It is nothing short of essential to any comprehensive collection of modern rock music, and to an understanding of the era and a generation.