Marrakesh Express

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"Marrakesh Express"
Marrakesh Express - Crosby, Stills & Nash.jpg
Single by Crosby, Stills & Nash
from the album Crosby, Stills & Nash
B-side"Helplessly Hoping"
GenreSoft rock, folk rock
Songwriter(s)Graham Nash
Producer(s)David Crosby
Graham Nash
Stephen Stills
Crosby, Stills & Nash singles chronology
"Marrakesh Express"
"Suite: Judy Blue Eyes"
Audio sample
"Marrakesh Express"

"Marrakesh Express" is a song written by Graham Nash and performed by the band Crosby, Stills and Nash (CSN). It was first released in May 1969 on the self-titled album, Crosby, Stills and Nash, and released on a 45-RPM single in July of the same year, with another CSN song, "Helplessly Hoping,"[1] as its backing side. The single reached No. 28 on the Billboard Hot 100 on August 23, 1969.[2] It reached the same position on the Easy Listening chart.[3]


"Marrakesh Express" was written and composed 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 till 1968. The band rejected the song as not commercial enough, but it found a home with Nash's new band Crosby, Stills and Nash.[4]

Nash recalled 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." He decided the compartment was "completely fucking boring," so left his seat to explore the other train carriages, and was fascinated by what he saw.

The song mentions "ducks and pigs and chickens," which he saw on the train, and recalled the ride by commenting: "It's literally the song as it is—what happened to me." [5]

Musical structure[edit]

The instrumentation of the song seeks to embody Nash's lyrics through an Eastern vibe and a "buoyant" flow carried by Jim Gordon's drumming, to resemble a train ride. Stephen Stills was responsible for much of the creative musicianship, adding a distinctive, unique sounding riff played on two overdubbed electric guitars. [4] He also added Hammond B3 organ, piano and bass. The song was rounded out by Nash's acoustic guitar, and the group's trademark three-part vocal harmony on the choruses.[6]

First concert performance[edit]

The first public appearance[7] of "Marrakesh Express" was at the Woodstock Music Festival. Between 3 am and 4 am on August 18, 1969, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young came together as a band for the second time in public and performed a set that included what Graham Nash called "a medley of our hit," referring to this song, the first single from their debut album. [8] (Neil Young did not play during the acoustic part of their set which included "Marrakesh Express".)

Reception and current appeal[edit]

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 ninth most-played song by them, and has been performed over 450 times.[9] A Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young tribute band is named "Marrakesh Express: A Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young Experience."[10]

The song has also gained negative attention, most notably by the Stooges's 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."[11]

Cover versions[edit]

In 2012, the song was recorded by the band The Gypsy Queens for their eponymous album The Gypsy Queens, featuring Nash himself and produced by Larry Klein. It was recorded at Jim Henson Studios in Los Angeles, (Jim Henson Company). The Album reached #46 in the English charts.



  1. ^ "Crosby, Stills & Nash - Marrakesh Express". Retrieved 2016-10-02.
  2. ^ "Crosby, Stills & Nash | Crosby, Stills and Nash". Retrieved 2016-10-02.
  3. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1993). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–1993. Record Research. p. 61.
  4. ^ a b Zimmer, Dave. Crosby, Stills & Nash: The Authorized Biography. Da Capo Press, 2000.
  5. ^ Greene, Andy (2008-08-18). "Track by Track: Crosby, Stills & Nash on Their Self-Titled Debut". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2016-10-02.
  6. ^ Lindsay Planer. "Marrakesh Express - Crosby, Stills & Nash | Song Info". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-10-02.
  7. ^ Fricke, David. "David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash & Neil Young." Rolling Stone no. 838 (April 13, 2000): 92.
  8. ^ "Crosby, Stills and Nash - Marakesh Express/Blackbird". YouTube. 2006-03-01. Retrieved 2016-10-02.
  9. ^ "Marrakesh Express by Crosby, Stills & Nash Song Statistics". 1969-08-17. Retrieved 2016-10-02.
  10. ^ "Marrakesh Express - a Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young Experience". Marrakesh Music. Archived from the original on 2016-10-03. Retrieved 2016-10-02.
  11. ^ Devenish, Colin (2005-06-23). "Stooges reissue deluxe editions of 'The Stooges' and 'Fun House'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2016-10-02.