|Single by Crosby, Stills & Nash|
|from the album Crosby, Stills & Nash|
|Crosby, Stills & Nash singles chronology|
"Marrakesh Express" is a folk song written by Graham Nash and performed by the band Crosby, Stills and Nash (CSN). It was first released in 1969 on the self-titled album, Crosby, Stills and Nash, and later released on 45 with another CSN song, "Helplessly Hoping."
The album gained much popularity upon release, peaking at No. 6 on the Billboard 200 chart.
"Marrakesh Express" also gained recognition and was placed on the Billboard Hot 100 - an honor shared by another song from the same album, "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes." By August 23, 1969, the song peaked at No.28.
"Marrakesh Express" was written by Graham Nash during his final years as a member of the English rock band, The Hollies, of which he was a member from its formation in 1962 until 1968. The song was rejected by the band as not commercial enough, but found a home with Nash's new band Crosby, Stills and Nash.
Nash recalls his inspiration for the song occurring during a Moroccan vacation he took in 1966. On the trip, Nash traveled by train from Casablanca to Marrakesh. He began the journey in First Class, surrounded by people he found to be uninteresting - as he described it, they were all "ladies with blue hair." Upon this observation, he decided the compartment was "completely fucking boring", so left his seat to explore the other train carriages. He was fascinated by what he saw.
The song mentions "ducks and pigs and chickens," and that, according to Nash, is actually what was there. He recalls the ride by commenting: "It's literally the song as it is — what happened to me."
The instrumentation of the song seeks to embody Nash's lyrics through an Eastern vibe and a "buoyant" flow to resemble a train ride. Stephen Stills was responsible for much of the creative musicianship behind the song and adds a vital inclusion of electric guitar. Stills' guitar riff floats over the song in a way reminiscent of the sitar. He also included other "electric guitars, Hammond B3 organ, piano and bass overdubs". Nash's acoustic guitar, the addition of drums by Jim Gordon, and the three-part harmony accomplished by Crosby, Stills and Nash culminate into the complex song heard today.
First concert performance
Although the song had been previously performed in the home of the friends of CSN during a get-together, the first public appearance, and second performance of "Marrakesh Express" was at the Woodstock Music Festival. The festival lasted for 3 days between August 15 and 18 of 1969. Legends of music played during this famous event, and Crosby, Stills and Nash were present. Early in the morning on August 18, 1969 between 3am and 4am at the festival, Crosby, Stills and Nash came together as a band for the first time in public and performed a new rendition of the Beatles' "Blackbird" and their original "Marrakesh Express".
Reception and current appeal
The song has gained attention throughout the years and has remained popular since its release in 1969. Throughout the decades of touring done by Crosby, Stills and Nash, and the sometimes Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, "Marrakesh Express" is the 13th most-played song by them, and has been performed over 150 times. The album, Crosby, Stills and Nash, which featured "Marrakesh Express" was named No.262 in the 2013 Rolling Stone article of the "500 Greatest Albums of All Time".  One of notable Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young tribute bands, possesses the name “Marrakesh Express: A Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young Experience.” The song has also gained negative attention, most notably by the Stooges' singer, Iggy Pop. In a 2003 Rolling Stone article, Iggy Pop mentions the band in response to a discussion of the band's creation acting as a counter against the "hippie movement". He exclaims, "I mean, 'Marrakesh Express?' It may be the worst song ever written."
- Zimmer, Dave. Crosby, Stills & Nash: The Authorized Biography. Da Capo Press, 2000.
- Greene, Andy. “Track by Track: Crosby, Stills Nash on Their Self-Titled Debut | Music News | Rolling Stone.” Rollingstone.com. Accessed September 12, 2013. http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/track-by-track-crosby-stills-nash-on-their-self-titled-debut-20080818.
- Fricke, David. “David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash & Neil Young.” Rolling Stone no. 838 (April 13, 2000): 92.
- see video
- “500 Greatest Albums of All Time: Crosby, Stills and Nash, ‘Crosby, Stills and Nash’ | Rolling Stone.” Rollingstone.com. Accessed September 18, 2013. http://www.rollingstone.com/music/lists/500-greatest-albums-of-all-time-20120531/crosby-stills-and-nash-crosby-stills-and-nash-20120524
- Devenish, Colin. “Stooges Reopen House | Music News | Rolling Stone.” Rollingstone.com. Accessed September 12, 2013. http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/stooges-reopen-house-20050623