"Just a song before I go
A lesson to be learned
Traveling twice the speed of sound
It's easy to get burned..."
If you're Graham Nash and your pedigree includes membership in rock's first, and still most formidable supergroup, Crosby, Stills, & Nash (and, better yet, Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young), it's only natural that you'd spend at least part of your time reflecting on the past.
After all, Nash's musical legacy stretches back a full five decades, dating from when he participated in the advance guard of the British Invasion with the Hollies. His credence and credibility were already elevated by contributions to hits like "Look Through Any Window," "Just One Look," and "Carrie Ann." Nash's ascent to superstardom was well underway even before he arrived on these shores and connected with David Crosby and Stephen Stills in the recesses of L.A.'s Laurel Canyon.
Aside from a brief one-off reunion in the early '80s and mentions in last year's autobiography, Wild Tales: A Rock & Roll Life, Nash has rarely revisited his Hollies legacy. On the other hand, his devotion to CSN and CSNY has never wavered. He recently oversaw the release of CSNY 1974, a sprawling CD/DVD combination box set that documents the band's legendary victory tour encompassing stadiums and arenas throughout the U.S. and Europe. Notably too, Nash produced career-spanning retrospectives for his CSN bandmates Crosby and Stills, an act of camaraderie that's impressive in its own right.
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And then there are his tours with the band, an ongoing venture that's continued with little let-up, from their formative years in the late '60s to the present day. Nash's contributions to the band's canon -- songs such as "Teach Your Children," "Our House," "Marrakesh Express," and "Just a Song Before I Go" -- make him an intrinsic part of that conglomerate, even though it sometimes comes at the expense of maintaining his own individual efforts.
Still, for all his time spent reliving the past, Nash remains very much a part of the present while also investing substantially in the future. His solo outings have continued unabated (although admittedly the high bar he attained early on remains somewhat elusive at this point). His reputation as a renowned photographer helped him broaden his reach into other artistic realms, while his company Nash Editions, specializing in printing, scanning, commercial photography, and reproduction, made him a highly successful entrepreneur.
And even though his double induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was made possible by his affiliation with his aforementioned keynote ensembles, he can still pride himself on the fact that his efforts gained him entry not once but twice, a formidable accomplishment for any journeyman musician.
Nash can also claim several distinctive honors attained as a result of individual efforts. In 2010, he was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in recognition of his services to music and charity. He also holds four honorary degrees, including music honors from the University of Salford in Manchester, England, and a doctorate in fine arts from Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Given these accomplishments, one would think Nash would have nothing to prove, much less anything else to offer his public. Yet he continues to tour on his own, filling in the gaps when CSN and the more elusive CSNY are on hiatus.
It would be a mistake, then, to think of Graham Nash as merely an appendage of Crosby, Stills, & Nash. As he prepares to celebrate his 73rd birthday next month, he's still moving forward even while embracing his place in rock's most prestigious pantheon.
Graham Nash. 8 p.m. Friday, January 16, at Parker Playhouse, 707 NE Eighth St., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $38.50 to $58.50 plus fees. Call 954-462-0222, or visit ticketmaster.com.
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