Tuesday, March 2, 2010

#24 Eye to Eye with Graham Nash

Few musicians have ever had the chance to impact rock and roll the way Graham Nash has. In a career that spans nearly fifty years, Nash has been a leading member of not just one, but two legendary rock bands and has had a tremendously prolific solo career as well. Known for his beautiful tenor vocals and his quiet, personal songwriting, Graham Nash has been a leading force within both 'The Hollies' and 'Crosby, Stills and Nash'. His solo career has included a lot of diverse projects with dozens of the heavy players or rock and roll over the last fifty years. Time has also seen him branch out to become a well known photographer with his work hanging in galleries worldwide. Today, at 68, Nash continues his photography as well as his musical solo career and has periodically continued working with 'The Hollies' which hold the distinction as being one of the few early 60's British invasion bands that never actually broke up.

In 1963 Graham was instrumental in the formation of The Hollies in Manchester, England. His haunting, tenor vocals helped the group perfect their tremendous harmonies and launch them to early success both in England and in the USA in the early sixties making them one of the first British Invasion bands even before the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Nash eventually tired of the relentless touring with the Hollies and left the band so he could 'hang out at home and write songs' and because he was fed up with the screaming fans drowning out the music (much the same reasoning as Lennon and Harrison had said tired them of touring with the Beatles). I think that the best album he did with the Hollies was 1964's 'In The Hollies Style'. It perfectly captures the vocal harmonies that they were famous for and it sees them branch out into songwriting in a big way (their debut album had one original song, this album is almost entirely original). In 1968 Nash was in the USA partying and met up with Mama Cass Elliot, Stephen Stills and David Crosby. He enjoyed himself so much that he soon left the Hollies and migrated to L.A to form Crosby, Stills and Nash.

His work with Crosby, Stills and Nash launched him to stardom and catapulted the band to the status of folk rock super-group. They have released 8 studio albums together (and with the addition of Neil Young periodically) between 1969 and 1999. Their work together was known for their unique blend of vocal harmonies as well as their political activeness and lyrics steeped in social and cultural commentary. Woodstock helped propel them into the spotlight and over the years they are synonymous with the spirit of the 60's. Of their work together I would say that 1970's 'Deja Vu' is the take away album. The addition of Neil young completes the band in pretty much every way. 'Teach Your Children', written by Nash, is one of the stand out tracks on the album. After that the band kind of fell apart for the majority of the seventies but came back in 1977 with 'CSN'. It is a totally solid album featuring really strong performances and songwriting from all three of them. Since then the trio has gotten together sporadically and released more albums and the occasional tour.

The solo career of Graham Nash has been all over the map of rock. He has five studio albums to his credit as well as a multitude with other artists on duet records and aiding them on their own albums. His debut solo record 'Songs For Beginners' is one of my fave folk rock records of all time. I first heard about it when I watched the Adam Sandler movie 'Reign Over Me'. There is a part in the movie where Adam Sandler is in a record store and he points to an LP of the album which has a picture of Graham Nash on it and says "Look at this guy, he KNOWS he just made a killer album". I thought that was awesome and the soundtrack is packed with a few Nash songs as well so as a side note, I think you should dig that movie its way better then 98% of Sandler's movies. I hope that his career as a musician is not done yet because I'm sure Nash has a lot more to offer us in the years ahead.

The Facts:

-Nash was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997 as part of CSNY and will be inducted again this year as a member of the Hollies.
-In 2006, Nash and Crosby both joined David Gilmour of 'Pink Floyd' for his solo album 'On an Island'.
-In 1978 Nash permanently gave up his British citizenship in order to become an American.
-Nash has just released an amazing 3 disc box set spanning his entire career called 'Reflections'.

My Fave Album:

- I have to go with 'Songs for Beginners'. This is one of those albums that really speaks for itself in the first listen. Aside from his own brilliant songwriting with such songs as 'Simple Man', 'better days' and 'Chicago', the album hosts a multitude of music alumni including Neil Young, David Crosby, Phil Lesh and Jerry Garcia to name a few. It's a fantastic album and one of the towering works of folk rock. I won't even say any more, just go listen to it right now!
Thanks for stopping by folks.

Oh and dig this freaking amazing live version of 'Simple Man' and I guarantee you will be hooked on Graham Nash.


Anonymous said...

Bravo Tosh! what a great video too!

Anonymous said...

applause, applause..what a magnificent voice...thanks for sharing that great video , never seen it before, gave us goosebumps!