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Graham Nash Tells the Wild Tales Behind His Most Enduring Songs

Graham Nash had just finished his autobiography, 2013’s Wild Tales, when a thought occurred to him — one that seems obvious to anyone familiar with his story. “I realized what an incredible life I’ve had. I read the first manuscript, got through it all, then I looked down and went, ‘Holy s—, I wish I was him!’ Because, having not looked back, it looked ridiculous. It’s been a ridiculous life.” It’s understandable that the singer, songwriter, activist, archivist, author, father, photographer, digital printing pioneer and very concerned citizen hasn’t had much of a chance to reflect — he’s been a little busy — but a brief highlight list reads like a rock ‘n’ roll history primer. He got vocal tips from the Everly Brothers as a teen, bested the primitive Beatles (Johnny & the Moondogs, technically) in a late ‘50s talent contest, and watched Little Richard chew out his flamboyant new guitarist named Jimi Hendrix. Of course, Nash made some legends of his own; first as a member of the Hollies, one of the biggest groups of the British Beat-era, and later in various permutations of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young — the ever-evolving supergroup that gave hope and harmony to the Age of Aquarius and beyond. “It went so fast. I feel so insanely lucky. I’m this poor kid from the north of England, and here we are after 76 years of life.”
His time on the planet has indeed been well spent, and he has the songs to prove it. A new two-disc collection, Over the Years, serves as a musical memoir, gathering 15 of his most enduring songs — from CSN through his most recent solo album, 2016’s This Path Tonight — with rare demos offering a fascinating look at his hits as works in progress. “There’d never been a greatest hits of my music and I thought it was time,” he tells PEOPLE. “Because of all the experience I’ve had on the road in terms of what people shout out and what I expect that they want to hear, I put these songs together that were fan favorites of mine. Then, to make it different, I put those demos on there.”

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