Graham Nash rethinks ‘never’ for Crosby, Stills & Nash thanks to new political climate
BY MARIJKE ROWLAND
When you’ve been making rock ’n’ roll for 50 years, you learn to never say never. Or, in Graham Nash’s case, just know that “never” can be temporary.
The two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Famer told Billboard this time last year that there would “never, ever be a Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young record and there will never be another Crosby, Stills & Nash record or show.” The founding member of Crosby, Stills & Nash (and sometimes Young) has had a falling out over personal issues with fellow founding member David Crosby and told the magazine he didn’t want “anything to do with (him) at all.”
Since then, a year has passed, a new president has been elected, and “never” has become “who knows?” Nash, who turned 75 in February, has been through his own tumultuous life changes in recent years. The English-born singer-songwriter known for his work in Crosby, Stills & Nash and The Hollies split from his wife of 38 years, found new love with 37-year-old photographer and filmmaker Amy Grantham and moved to New York City.
The result was his April 2016 release, “The Path,” his first new album in 14 years. He has been on the road since and will stop at the Gallo Center for the Arts on Saturday, March 25. Now, looking back, that “never” has mellowed and Nash is open to the supergroup getting back together.
“That’s how it stood then. You know, with friends you get into an argument and you say things you didn’t mean. That goes always with the four of us,” he said. “I think whatever silly arguments keeping us apart pale in comparison with what’s happening politically in this country, I think we need to get out there and start.
Nash spoke with The Modesto Bee recently from the New York home he now shares with Grantham about the current political climate, his musical inspiration and more.
Q: You released a new album of music last year, “The Path,” your first solo release over a decade. What inspired that record? And why did you feel it was the right time for new music?
A: My life changed dramatically. My wife and I after 38 years of marriage divorced. Then I moved to New York City. And I am in love with a beautiful New York artist here and my music reflected that.
Q: How do you think your songwriting has evolved throughout your career? From your time with The Hollies and Crosby, Stills & Nash?
A: When you first start writing songs, you write Moon-June, screw me in the back of the car songs. That’s what I did with The Hollies, and we had like 15 records. Then I moved to America and realized I can be more. My music is still the same; I still have to feel something first. But then when I feel something, I’m off and running and expressing my opinions in music.
Q: You’ve never shied away from political songwriting. Your song “Immigration Man” was referenced in the presidential election and you were a supporter of Bernie Sanders. What do you think is the role of artists, particularly musicians and songwriters, in this new Donald Trump era?
A: First of all, as an artist you have to tell the truth as much as you can and have to reflect the times you live in. That’s what I do with the tools of communication, whether it be music or art. You have to speak out about what’s happening as an individual.
Q: Do you think that form of political expression is growing in music now?
A: Nah, the truth is, here is what is going on, the people that are controlling the world’s media you can count on two hands. They don’t want protest songs on the radio or television. In Vietnam, we had Walter Cronkite on TV telling people every night saying how many people had died. So people got angry and called their congressmen. Now here we are still talking about that same sort of thing.
Q: Back in 2014, you worked on and released the box set for the Crosby Stills Nash & Young 1974 stadium tour. When you reflect on that time and your tenure with Crosby, Stills & Nash/Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, how do you feel?
A: I didn’t spend much time thinking about that. What I wanted to do was prove to the American public and at large what a fantastic rock ’n’ roll band Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young was. I wanted the record to reflect that. I wanted to put you in the 10th row in the middle and hearing one show. But you were actually hearing 10 different shows. My job was to make it seamless. I realized just how incredible David and Stephen and Neil are.
Q: Tell me about the current tour. What can people expect from the shows?
A: They can expect a couple of things. They can expect music from me from all my life, from The Hollies forward. They can expect to receive value for their money. And I expect them to leave the building with a smile on their face. I think people will be very pleasantly surprised with how good a time they have.