One of rock's most recognisable musicians Graham Nash


Chatting with Graham Nash

He’s one of rock’s most recognisable musicians. Graham Nash been making music for more than 60 years, first with English band The Hollies then as Crosby Stills and Nash and later when Neil Young joined them, as CSNY. At 80 years young, Graham Nash has just recently released a new solo album. It’s a live record that spans 20 tracks that was recorded over the course of four shows he’d booked prior to the pandemic. During our chat Graham tells us why CSNY can no longer make music together since losing their connection, where he stands on life and society in general and about his passion for photography and the release of his new photographic book called Life in Focus.

80 years young, still passionate, still making music

At 80 years, young. Graham Nash has just recently released a new solo album. It’s a live record that spans 20 tracks during our chat. Graham tells us why see us in why is no longer able to make music together. He tells us where he stands on life and society in general, and about his passion for photography and the release of his new photographic book called life in focus.

Songs for Beginners

You must be well and truly sick and tired about talking about this album, huh? No,  I, this is it’s part of the job. You know what you do? You just throw it out there and leave it. No, you’ve gotta to fight for space. You have to fight for air time. You know, when I first started, there were, you know, maybe a hundred bands and now there are a million bands and they all want their fair share of space. I think you have to really help push it. What a sensational album. It’s the compilation of two of your first solo albums. Why did you choose those? I’ve always liked him. I always wonder why people were so happy about Songs for Beginners. And I realise it’s very personal. It’s very simple. It’s very easy to understand and easy to take into your heart.And I thought there were a lot of those songs that I’d never performed before. And I wanted to perform ’em. We were all writing, you know, me, David and Steven and Neil, you know, all writing all the time. But when CSN is not making an album. And CSNY is not making an album and Crosby Nash is not making an album, what do you do with all those songs?  I had saved up some songs and because there was no outlet for them, I had to do a solo record.

Nash frustrated that his songs are still relevant today

It’s frustrating that I wrote from my heart 50 years ago that these songs are still relevant today. And nobody has done anything about it. There are more wars going on now than when I wrote that song. . I wrote that song in military madness about my father going off to world war II. And there were only, I don’t know, four wars going on throughout the world then. And now there’s dozens of wars going on throughout the world. We haven’t learnt anything! 

Wild Tales is a much darker side of me. It exists all the time. Of course, everybody has light and shade within their being of course.  It didn’t come out until 74.  I think the record company was just hoping it would go away. I’ve always loved it. So I designed four shows where I did these songs. Does it surprise you that you still get the reaction that you get today? And also the songs that you’re doing are still so appropriate for. That’s one of the frustrating things that, you know, songs I wrote 50 years ago, military madness of Chicago and things like that, immigration man. And it blows my mind that we have not learned from history yet. Chicago, for instance, your whole line is that we can change the world. Well, actually we couldn’t? Actually, we did. Don’t forget, there is no Vietnam war. Don’t forget there’s a lot of things that really did happen and the hippies were correct in many things, simple things like love is better than hatred and peace is better than war.

The Hippies were right - we can change the world.

The Hollies, Being 80 and exercising those muscles

Graham Nash and Alan Clark, who founded English band. The Hollies in 1962 when they were just 20 years old, had no idea about the kind of success they’d find. The group were known for their distinctive three part harmonies and scored more than 30 charting singles.  You had a very special chemistry right from the start didn’t you? Yes, we did. And because we had known each other since we were six years old and we had been singing together since we were seven years old, for some reason, Alan always took the melody and I always sang the harmony and that’s how we started. Talking about you being 80 years old, you look in fabulous shape. What’s your secret? I believe in myself. I believe that I have a decent heart. I believe that I’m trying to do good things with my music. And I, I think I’m correct in that, you know, you take good care of yourself. I take great care of myself. I eat well, I eat, you know, good food. I’m I’m not a fast food junkie and you gotta understand the only time I know that I’m 80 years old is when I look in the mirror because I certainly don’t feel it. And you exercise too.  The whole thing is just a muscle, the body, the brain, everything, the songwriting, it’s the music, it’s all a muscle that you must keep exercised.

Missing those days and broken connections

I certainly miss those days. Look at the music that we made. Look at the times when I played Steven a new song I’d written called Teach The Children. And he listened to it and I got to the end and he said, not a bad song don’t ever sing it like that again. He said, you sound like Henry VIII. This is how it should go. And that’s when he put that beautiful Steven touch on it. Yeah, I miss moments like that. I miss moments when, when Steven said, Hey, I just wrote a new song. Do you want to hear it? And he plays me Four and 20 and breaks my heart. When Neil writes Only Love Can Break your Heart. He wrote that for me and Joan. I miss those kind of moments. But that connection has gone and therefore I’ll just be complacent with my memories. Was it hard to put it behind you? When my body tells me that something is done, it’s done for me. And that that’s what happened. We lost that connection and we can’t make that kind of music anymore.

We can't make that kind of music anymore

"Once you have loved Joni Mitchell like I did, it's very difficult to let go of because it was such a beautiful time in my life"

Graham Nash invisible photographer

Graham talks a lot about being invisible and prefers his shots to be un-staged. I’ve been photographed a lot in my. And I know that face that you put on, when you think someone’s taking a picture of you, cos you always wanna be cool. I have that face too. And I, I don’t like that face even though I do it. I don’t like it and I don’t like it in other people. And the only way that I can avoid it is by being as invisible as possible. There are many shots in the book where Joan didn’t even know I was there. That’s when I can take the best images, cos I know that I can photograph their insights as well as what they’re presenting on the outside.

Graham was always known to take his camera wherever he went on tour with the Hollies and later CSN and CSN.

Glass half full?

I am always trying to keep it full. I never did like half full glasses. I never did. I want full glasses. I don’t want a half full. Very often. I can wake up in the morning and I say to myself, okay, world. I’m coming out there. I’ve got my camera. Show me the best. What have you got for me today? And I can put myself in that mood, inevitably something fabulous happens. I, I can, will myself into seeing interesting stuff. 

So you’re not bothered by the breakdown in relations between your fellow band mates. These kids are my brothers and as brothers, sometimes we argue, sometimes we don’t see things the same way. Sometimes we think we should do it a different way. We are family. And I think that that Crosby Stills Nash  and Young are travelling completely different paths. Neil brought a certain darkness to our music, whereas ours was sunny and flowery and LA LA LA, LA LA, and in tune and one voice.  In Dejavu, we understood that he was a great songwriter, credible guitar player, of course, but we are definitely different bands and need to travel separately. We’re done.

Neil brought a darkness. We're done.

Leave a Reply