♫ OHIO ♫

Had I remembered the all-important date of May 4th, this is the song I would have played yesterday, on the 50th anniversary of the brutal slaying of four students by National Guardsmen on the campus of Kent State University on 04 May 1970.  I did not remember until Jeff reminded me with his post yesterday afternoon, so I am one day late with this song.

Neil Young wrote Ohio shortly after seeing a news report on the tragedy, and it was released by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young just 10 days after the shootings.

The Kent State shootings had a profound effect on some of the students who later became prominent musicians. Chrissie Hynde was a student at the time, and eventually formed The Pretenders. Mark Mothersbaugh and Jerry Casale were also on campus, and after the shootings, they developed the band Devo based on the concept of “De-Evolution,” meaning the human race was regressing. Said Casale …

“It refocused me entirely. I don’t think I would have done Devo without it. It was the deciding factor that made me live and breathe this idea and make it happen. In Chrissie Hynde’s case, I’m sure it was a very powerful single event that was traumatic enough to form her sensibility and account for a lot of her anger.”

Mothersbaugh added, “It was the first time I’d heard a song about something I’d been a participant in. It effected us. It was part of our life.”

This song became a protest anthem as Americans became fed up with the war in Vietnam. Providing a firsthand account of the shootings and the effect of this song, Alan Canfora relates:

“On May 4, 1970, I was waving a black protest flag as a symbol of my anger and despair 10 days after I attended the funeral of my 19-year-old friend killed in Vietnam. I was about 250 feet away from the kneeling, aiming guardsmen from Troop G – the death squad – minutes before they marched away up a hillside. They fired 67 shots from the hilltop during 13 seconds of deadly gunfire, mostly from powerful M1 rifles. I was shot through my right wrist. I survived because I jumped behind the only tree in the direct line of gunfire. About a week later, I was riding in the Ohio countryside with other Kent State massacre survivors when WMMS radio played the song ‘Ohio’ for the first time. We were deeply moved and inspired by that great anti-war anthem.”

Ohio
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

Tin soldiers and Nixon’s comin’
We’re finally on our own
This summer I hear the drummin’
Four dead in Ohio

Gotta get down to it
Soldiers are gunning us down
Should have been done long ago
What if you knew her and
Found her dead on the ground?
How can you run when you know?

Na na-na-na, na-na na-na
Na na-na-na, na-na na
Na na-na-na, na-na na-na
Na na-na-na, na-na na

Gotta get down to it
Soldiers are cutting us down
Should have been done long ago
What if you knew her and
Found her dead on the ground?
How can you run when you know?

Tin soldiers and Nixon’s comin’
We’re finally on our own
This summer I hear the drummin’
Four dead in Ohio
Four dead in Ohio (Four dead)
Four dead in Ohio (Four)
Four dead in Ohio (How many?)
Four dead in Ohio (How many more?)
Four dead in Ohio (Why?)
Four dead in Ohio (Oh!)
Four dead in Ohio (Four)
Four dead in Ohio (Why?)
Four dead in Ohio (Why?)

Source: Musixmatch
Songwriters: Neil Young
Ohio lyrics © Universal Music – Z Tunes Llc, Almo Music Corp., Sony/atv Tunes Llc, Drop Your Pants Publishing, Zomba Enterprises Inc., Silly Fish Music, Zac Maloy Music, Broken Arrow Music, Almo Music Corporation, Universal Music-z Tunes, Broken Arrow Music Corp., Rondor Music Corp, Sony/atv Tunes Llc Obo Zac Maloy Music, Universal Music-z Tunes Obo Drop Your Pants Publishing, Almo Music Obo Silly Fish Music

16 thoughts on “♫ OHIO ♫

  1. Jill, the guitar work by Young on this song and “Woodstock” is poweful. He had been asked by Stephen Stills to join Crosby, Stills and Nash, so their first album “CSN&Y So Far” is very enhanced by Young’s guitar and songwriting. He also wrote “Helpless.” I think this is high on the list of greatest rock albums. Keith

    Liked by 1 person

  2. IIt was a bit of real evil in a time of some unrest. When students who are nothing more than kids, are unhappy they let you know. It’s been that way for a long time and should continue to be so, so that they are not ignored. But you don’t kill children. Who knows what great things those four precious students would have gone on to create.
    Cwtch

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A song for the ages. The problem, if you weren’t alive then, or lived in the area, you have nothing to base this song in, no reason to understand what it is about. The governor of Ohio at that time, I don’t remember his name, swore that he would bring these protests to an end. He is the one who should have been charged with murder, though I don’t think anyone ever was.
    At least the university later created a memorial so that at least some would never forget:
    Jeffrey Miller
    Allison Krouse
    Sandy Sheuer
    William Schroeder
    The Kent State Massacre

    Liked by 2 people

    • You’re so right … it’s like any other event … if you didn’t have some form of direct connection, it’s not as meaningful. It was Governor James Rhodes who called out the Ohio National Guard, at the request of Kent Mayor Leroy Satrom. No, no murder charges or any other charges followed, as best I recall. Just a whole lot of grief. 😥

      Like

  4. That’s the first time I’ve heard the song, Jill. I graduated from Akron U in 1967 and had a cousin graduate from Kent State some years before that.

    It was a terrible thing to happen. It cast a long dark shadow over the university. Some of the graduates right after that had difficulty finding jobs.

    In 1977 we were living in an apartment behind the university as my husband had a job in Ravenna nearby. They were going to build a building I seem to remember on university land where the events of that day took place and there were demonstrations. A couple of men came to our door. They had police department detectives, FBI, or CIA written all over them. It seemed someone involved in the problems of that day in 1970 had lived in our apartment. When the men found out we were new tenants they left. That’s how thorough they are in following up those events. —- Suzanne

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh wow! You had a very personal connection to the events of that day. I was living in Virginia at the time, newly married and pregnant with my daughter, Chris. I still remember the heartbreak, and it still brings a tear. I’m surprised, though, that you never heard the song, for it was played frequently for quite some time.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I didn’t listen to the radio much. If they were playing it after the shootings, I was still living at home and my dad watched his programs. I probably didn’t want to listen to a song about something that terrible. The papers and news on TV were full of it. 😦 — Suzanne

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Jill, we are of a like mind today. I am glad you included a link to the song and some additional background. My post has a forewarning in it, which is captured in this letter I sent to the editor. Keith

    “Fifty years ago, the US president called out the national guard on protesting college students at Kent State University and four students were killed. This was an asinine move by a paranoid (and as we learned later, corrupt) president.

    This should never happen again. Yet, this independent and former Republican fears anything could happen with the current White House incumbent, the most corrupt, deceitful and egomaniacal president in my lifetime, including the aforementioned Nixon. What concerns me even more is the unhealthy tribal thinking that rationalizes and even abets behavior by such a person. Five biographers of this person have noted this person has a hard time with the truth. Taking the president at his word is a fool’s errand.”

    Liked by 3 people

    • Indeed we are of like mind today … as often happens! And, I fully agree with you that it should NEVER happen again, but I could see something similar happening under the ‘president’ who operates out of emotion rather than intellect. Yes, Nixon was a bastard and a crook, but … Trump is far worse. Fifty years ago … and yet, when I first read Jeff’s post on Monday, I found myself with tears in my eyes and a huge lump in my throat. There are some things that the pain just never goes away. Let us hope we never see a repeat.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s