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Graham Nash Talks Honoring Jimmy Webb at Carnegie Hall Tribute Show Prior to Kicking Off Summer Tour

By Jordan Runtagh - People Magazine

Two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Graham Nash will be on hand to honor songwriter Jimmy Webb during a star-studded tribute concert at Carnegie Hall on Wednesday night.

Nash—who defined the early ’70s L.A. scene alongside his musical brethren David Crosby, Stephen Stills, and Neil Young in the seminal supergroup Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young—will be joined by Art Garfunkel, Toby Keith, Dwight Yoakam, Judy Collins and members of the 5th Dimension. Together they will perform many of the pop standards penned by Webb, who shot to fame in the mid-’60s as the wunderkind behind hits like “Up, Up and Away,” “MacArthur Park” and “The Worst That Could Happen.”

Proceeds from the show will be donated to the Alzheimer’s Association and the I’ll Be Me Fund in honor of Glen Campbell, who took Webb’s “Wichita Lineman” and “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” to the top of the charts.

For Nash, Webb’s gift for melody made him an early fan. “People come up to either me or David or Stephen or Neil, and say that our music is the soundtrack to their lives, but to a certain degree so is Jimmy Webb’s,” he tells PEOPLE. “He’s been writing fantastic music for decades now.”

Nash first met Webb when he was living in Los Angeles’ Laurel Canyon, then a laid-back haven for songwriters and artists. “I think Cass Elliot’s sister Leah first introduced me to Jimmy when she was putting voices on one of his tracks,” he remembers. “That must have been somewhere in the almost-middle ’70s. We’d heard ‘MacArthur Park’ and ‘Up Up and Away.’ It’s a pop tune, but man you can’t stop singing that thing!”

Their friendship endured through the years, and in 2013 Nash and Crosby teamed up to sing on “If These Walls Could Speak,” a track from Webb’s most recent album, Still Within the Sound of My Voice. “When I was approached to do this show at Carnegie Hall, I suggested to Jimmy that we do that song in two-part harmony instead of three-part harmony. And he said, ‘Absolutely.’ So I’ve got my part down and I’m raring to go!”

Nash also is gearing up for a series of North American concert dates this summer. While he’s thrilled to share his music with the masses, some of his classics are unnervingly relevant in the tumultuous political climate.

“I’m thrilled that songs I create are going to last longer than I am, but at the same time, we’re still singing ‘Military Madness’? Are you kidding? I wrote that for my father going off to World War II. And ‘Immigration Man’? How incredibly relevant is that?”

We can change the world, Nash sang on “Chicago,” a song off his 1971 solo debut Songs for Beginners inspired by protests at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Decades later, Nash still believes in the message.

“We really can change the world. Look what’s going on: so many people are getting back into the democratic process and it’s thrilling, frankly. I think we have to be strong. I think that we have to feel that we can resist, and I think it’s incredibly necessary that we stand and fight.”