Graham Nash Can't Stop, Won't Stop
Now that his production work on the four-years-in-the-making massive CSNY 1974 box set is over and fans have in their hands what they've dreamed about for years, 72-year-old Graham Nash can just lie back and take it easy, right? Not a chance.
Photo by Chris Kissnger/Jensen Communications Crosby, Stills, and Nash (actually Stills, Nash, and Crosby) ply their trademark three-part harmony at a recent show.
"I'm busier now than I've ever been in my life, ever," he says. And his daybook planner backs up the claim. Currently on tour with longtime partners David Crosby and Stephen Stills, he is also doing publicity for the paperback version of his autobiography, Wild Tales, writing new music, recording a CSN covers album, showing his painting and photography work in galleries all over the world while making new art, and even sculpting.
And maybe changing a diaper or two.
"My son and his wife just gave birth to identical twin boys, and my other son gave [wife Susan and I] a beautiful granddaughter, so I also want to spend time with my family!" he laughs. "My life is incredibly blessed and I'm very grateful. But I still love the music that the four of us make. I really am still a fan."
So, of course, are millions of others around the world for whom CSN's (or CSNY's) music is a part of their daily lives. And while all members have contributed songs to the group pot over the past nearly five decades, it's Nash who, as Crosby told audiences during the last tour, "writes the songs that the world knows by heart and sings along with."
Those would be chiefly "Teach Your Children," "Our House," and "Just a Song Before I Go" -- also some of the band's best-known and commercially successful tunes.
"Teach Your Children" in particular, Nash feels, will "be around long after our physical selves are gone." And two incidents -- one years ago, one recent -- drove that point home to him.
Photo by Joel Bernstein/Jensen Communications CSN recording the album titled..."CSN" at Miami's Criteria Studios, 1977
"A few years back, a friend called me, and he was sitting in a small coffeehouse on the top of a mountain in Katmandu in Nepal, and the song came on in the café. In Nepal!" Nash says.
"And just awhile ago, I was in an Apple store in Italy, and one of the employees rushed up to tell me he'd just been listening to the version on CSNY 1974 and how much it meant to him. To think I wrote a song that touches so many heart and minds and has for so long...that's a thrill as a writer."
On the current tour, CSN mix the gotta-play-'em favorites with a few deeper cuts and new material, though Nash would love for the trio to take a stab at the Stills' solo song "So Begins the Task."
"It is one of the most brilliant Stephen Stills songs ever with great harmony parts," Nash says.
A few covers will likely be sprinkled in, some from the long-delayed/abandoned/revived CSN covers album the group originally started with Rick Rubin before coming to a parting of ways with the producer over sharp musical disagreements. The band hopes to resume production on the record after the current tour.
Their last release was the double CD/DVD live effort CSN 2012. Since that time, Crosby has also released a solo record (Croz) and toured, and Stills did the same as part of the blues rock trio The Rides.
The deluxe CSNY 1974 box set
"I still think the concept of that album is a great idea. It's songs by other people that we wish we had written," Nash offers. "But we have to put our own stamp on it. For something like 'You Can Close Your Eyes' by James Taylor, for it to succeed, we have to make it sound like we wrote it. It's a difficult process, but we'll get back to it."
With Wild Tales coming out in paperback, and Still's recent announcement that he's working on his own book, all four members of CSNY will soon have put their lives on paper. Not surprisingly, memories and opinions of the same situations have sometimes differed; Crosby was reportedly taken aback by Nash's brutal, but honest account of Croz's drug problems.
And while he readily admits having fun with various substances for many years, Nash's indulgences never derailed the band, hurt the music, or caused bizarre behavior.
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