Graham Nash on Crosby, Stills, Young, and Being an "Honest Musician"
Photo by Amy Grantham
Few artists deserve the word "legend" more than Graham Nash. In a career spanning more than 50 years, he's shaped the foundation of modern rock, from his early efforts with the Hollies, which found him stitching the buoyant melodies inspired by Buddy Holly with the seamless harmonies of the Everly Brothers, to redefining folk rock via Crosby, Stills, Nash, and (sometimes) Young.
This past December marked several memorable anniversaries: the first time CSN entered a recording studio together in 1969, the formation of the Hollies in 1962, and his father's birthday. And despite recent projects that found him retracing his seminal achievements, including last year's autobiography, Wild Tales: A Rock & Roll Life, and his curating of the sprawling CD/DVD box set CSNY '74, Nash insists he's not fixated on the past. "I just get on with what songs I'm working on," he says.
Nash turns the focus to his upcoming album, This Path Tonight. "These songs are all very recent," he tells us in a gentle English accent that belies the fact he's spent the past 48 years in the United States. "They were written over a month by me and my friend Shane Fontayne, who is the second electric guitarist in the Crosby, Stills, Nash band. We share a bus going around the country, and we wrote 20 songs in a month. And then we recorded them in just eight days. My life is going through incredible changes, and my music reflects my life, as it's always done.
"I'm not getting any younger," he adds with a laugh. Regardless, it's apparent that even at 73, Nash still operates at full throttle. "Oh yes, absolutely. I have tremendous energy and passion still." Yet one has to wonder why 14 years have passed since his last solo album. "The truth is that when you have two or three other partners, you're always doing things with them," Nash explains. "I like being a solo artist, of course, but I really enjoy being in a band."
Now that he's touring solo in anticipation of the new album, Nash is "enjoying being out on my own tremendously, just me and Shane... I'm a musician; this is what we do. I'm not a relaxing guy. The truth is, when you write songs, the first thing you want to do is play them for your partner, play them for your family, and then go out and play them for the public... We're writing songs about life that we feel people need to listen to."
As for whether Crosby, Stills, Nash, and possibly Young will reconvene in a recording studio anytime soon, Nash acknowledges, "Yes, it's been awhile... It used to be that Stephen would call and say, 'Hey, I've got these three or four songs,' and Neil would do the same thing, and then we'd be off and running." But after spending four years putting together the CSNY box set and a recent 80-date group tour, he says, "I need a break from our music right now. I need to concentrate on me."
Nash is nevertheless confident his music has already made an indelible mark."I think, and I hope, that my music will resonate. I think I've managed my life fairly well and maybe touched a few hearts in the process... I think I'm an honest musician, and I've done my job well."
7:30 p.m. Thursday, January 28, at Parker Playhouse, 707 NE Eighth St., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $75 to $459 plus fees. Visit Ticketmaster.com.
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