Initially you were all about singing, sailboats and sex. When did you get politicised?
Well, that was a lot of fun. But the person who politicised me was Stephen Stills. I saw him play with Neil Young and I thought, yeah, you’re pretty good [laughs]. He was fiery and really switched on. For some people it’s about showbusiness. For me it’s about serving the song, and Stephen had incredible songs with meaning.
When you started to be successful did you feel you could have an effect on politics?
At one point we were probably the most political band in the world. We certainly drew attention to civil rights. But could music change the world? We tried. We stirred things up, got the conversation going.
After all your polemic CSN visited the White House in 1977. Would you go back?
We thought we should meet the boss. [Then US President] Jimmy Carter was a good man, really. Now people feel there’s no one on their side in Washington, and we’ve started the Crusades again in the Middle East.
Who is the most political musician you worked with?
Pete Seeger. He inspired us, and we were able to pay it back. We covered Turn! Turn! Turn! in The Byrds and he wrote us a letter saying: “They used to do everything but burn crosses on my lawn for being a communist. Now they come around and ask for my autograph. You boys are wonderful!” That was a pleasure for us.