Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - Ohio - 1970

Introduction to "Ohio" by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

Ohio is a protest song written by Neil Young in reaction to the Kent State shootings on May 4, 1970. Performed by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, it's a powerful political statement that became an anthem for an anti-war youth movement in the United States. This song not only reflects the political and social turmoil of the era but also stands as a timeless expression of youthful rebellion and the desire for change.

Background of "Ohio"

  1. The Kent State Shootings: On May 4, 1970, the Ohio National Guard shot and killed four students during an anti-Vietnam War protest at Kent State University.
  2. Neil Young: Young, a member of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, penned "Ohio" after seeing photographs of the incident in Life Magazine.
  3. Protest Music in the 1970s: "Ohio" fits into the broader context of 1970s protest music, reflecting the sentiments of a generation opposed to the Vietnam War.

Lyrics and Meaning

The lyrics of "Ohio" are a direct response to the Kent State shootings. The chorus, "Four dead in Ohio," drives home the tragedy's impact. The song criticizes the Nixon administration and the broader political climate of the time.

Analysis of Key Lyrics

  1. Chorus ("Four dead in Ohio"): This line emphasizes the loss of life and is a direct, poignant reminder of the tragedy.
  2. Verse Analysis: The verses contain direct references to President Nixon and the broader political and social unrest of the time.
  3. Emotional Impact: Explore how the song's somber tone and urgent message evoke a strong emotional response.

Interactive Tasks

Quiz: Questions on the song

What event inspired Neil Young to write "Ohio"? (Kent State shootings) (!Woodstock Festival) (!Moon landing) (!The Vietnam War)

How does the song "Ohio" primarily express its message? (Through its poignant lyrics) (!With its upbeat tempo) (!Through abstract metaphors) (!By focusing on personal love stories)

Which band performed "Ohio"? (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young) (!The Beatles) (!The Rolling Stones) (!Simon & Garfunkel)

What is the main theme of "Ohio"? (Protest against the Vietnam War and government actions) (!Celebration of youth culture) (!Environmental conservation) (!Racial equality)

What recurring line in "Ohio" underscores the tragedy of the event? ("Four dead in Ohio") (!"Freedom is a state of mind") (!"Time to make a stand") (!"Voices of the past")

Quiz: Questions on the Performer

Who among the following was not a member of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young? (!Bob Dylan) (Neil Young) (David Crosby) (Stephen Stills)

Which album features the song "Ohio"? (4 Way Street) (!Déjà Vu) (!Crosby, Stills & Nash) (!After the Gold Rush)

What role did Neil Young play in Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young? (Songwriter and guitarist) (!Drummer) (!Keyboard player) (!Bass guitarist)

In which year was "Ohio" released? (1970) (!1969) (!1971) (!1968)

What is unique about Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's musical style in "Ohio"? (Their harmonious vocal arrangements and electric guitar sound) (!Use of synthesizers) (!Inclusion of classical music elements) (!Disco-influenced beats)

Quiz: Questions on the lyrics

Which line in "Ohio" directly references a political figure? ("Tin soldiers and Nixon coming") (!"We're finally on our own") (!"Summer I hear the drumming") (!"What if you knew her and found her dead on the ground")

What does the phrase "Tin soldiers" in the song likely symbolize? (Military forces) (!Children's toys) (!Industrial workers) (!Political activists)

How does the lyric "What if you knew her and found her dead on the ground" contribute to the song's message? (It personalizes the tragedy of the Kent State shootings) (!It suggests a romantic storyline) (!It celebrates the spirit of rebellion) (!It reflects on the beauty of nature)

What emotion is predominantly conveyed through the chorus "Four dead in Ohio"? (Sorrow and anger) (!Joy and optimism) (!Confusion and curiosity) (!Hope and aspiration)

The line "Gotta get down to it, soldiers are cutting us down" suggests what about the song's perspective on the events? (A critical view of the authorities' actions) (!An indifferent stance) (!Support for the government's decision) (!A focus on personal relationships)


Neil Young Wrote "Ohio"
Kent State shootings Inspired "Ohio"
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young Performed "Ohio"
1970 Year "Ohio" was released
Protest Music Genre of "Ohio"

Open Tasks


  1. Research Assignment: Investigate the Kent State shootings and create a timeline of the events leading up to, during, and after the tragedy.
  2. Song Analysis: Analyze the lyrics of "Ohio" and discuss how they reflect the feelings of the anti-war movement.
  3. Music and Emotion: Create a playlist of songs from the 1970s that express similar themes as "Ohio."


  1. Comparative Analysis: Compare "Ohio" with another protest song from the same era, discussing similarities and differences in message and style.
  2. Historical Context: Write a short essay on how the Vietnam War influenced the music of the 1970s.
  3. Creative Writing: Imagine you are a student at Kent State in 1970. Write a diary entry describing your experiences and feelings.


  1. Multimedia Presentation: Create a video presentation on the impact of "Ohio" in music history and its relevance today.
  2. Interview Project: Interview people who lived through the 1970s about their memories of "Ohio" and how it impacted their views on politics and music.
  3. Critical Analysis: Write a detailed critique on the role of music in political and social movements, using "Ohio" as a case study.

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Oral Exam

  1. Comparative Discussion: Discuss how "Ohio" compares to modern protest songs in terms of message, style, and impact.
  2. Historical Impact Analysis: Analyze the role of "Ohio" in shaping public opinion about the Vietnam War and the Kent State shootings.
  3. Music and Society: Discuss how music reflects and influences social and political changes, using "Ohio" as an example.
  4. Creative Interpretation: Propose how "Ohio" might be reinterpreted in a modern context to address current social issues.
  5. Artist's Intent: Debate what Neil Young aimed to achieve with "Ohio" and whether he succeeded.

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