STORY WRITTEN BY ROB NAGY
For Digital First Media
Singer, songwriter, photographer, activist and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Graham Nash has had a front row seat from the earliest days of rock and roll. Nash, who turns 74 this month, played an integral role in the evolution of rock. He is a pioneer of modern music through his work as a solo artist and as a co-founding member of the British Invasion band The Hollies as well as “Crosby, Stills & Nash.” Authoring the classics “Marrakesh Express,” “Our House,” “Teach Your Children,” “Just a Song Before I Go,” “Wasted on the Way” and “Immigration Man” (co-written with David Crosby), Nash is living the dream as one of music’s most respected artists.
Fourteen years since his last solo album, “Songs For Survivors” (2002), Nash is releasing his latest masterpiece, “This Path Tonight.” Featuring a collection of 15 freshly penned Nash originals, the album offers an honest and heart felt message from a renaissance man whose journey continues to touch the lives of millions. Standout tracks include the title piece “This Path Tonight, “Myself At Last,” “Cracks In The City,” “Beneath The Waves,” “Golden Days,” “Another Broken Heart” and “Encore.”
“The title is an invite,” says Nash, from his home in New York City. “An invitation to join me on the journey, this part of my life and the changes that I’m going through. Just like every album before, it comes from my heart to yours.”
“The album was written by me and my friend Shane Fontayne,” adds Nash. “Shane plays guitar in the CSN (Crosby, Stills & Nash) band. We wrote 20 songs in a month and recorded those songs in 8 days. Shane produced the album and Kevin Madigan was our engineer, ably assisted by Alex Williams. Shane played guitar and vocals. Jay Bellerose was on drums with his wife Jennifer Condos, who played bass. Todd Caldwell and Patrick Warren took care of all the keyboards. Shane’s son, Shane Barakan, help us sculpt the vocals.”
“A particular favorite was “Myself At Last,” adds Nash. “The song you hear is the very first attempt at the very first song. I knew at that moment that Shane had put together some great musicians. My ‘process’ has not changed. I’m still trying to move you heart and soul and trying to put you as close to the ‘song’ as possible. “Myself At Last “ is a good example of what I mean, first take etc.”
Nash co-founded “The Hollies” with childhood friend Allan Clarke in Manchester, England in 1962. The group rose to international prominence with a succession of hits, including “Just One Look,” “To You My Love,” “So Lonely,” “I’ve Been Wrong,” “Pay You Back With Interest,” “On a Carousel,” “Bus Stop” and “Carrie Anne.”
Nash left The Hollies, over creative differences, in the late 60’s to form the trio “Crosby, Stills & Nash,” and, for a brief time, “Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.” CSN’s 1969 debut album, recognized by Rolling Stone Magazine as one of the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time,” served as a springboard for one of rock history’s most poetic and vocally harmonious super groups. Nearly fifty years since its inception, the trio continues to perform throughout the U.S. and abroad.
Nash, an anti-war and environmental activist, co-founded MUSE (Musicians United for Safe Energy) in 1979 as a voice against nuclear power. The historic “No Nukes” concert that year at New York’s Madison Square Garden furthered the cause on a global scale.
In 2010, Nash was awarded the OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) at the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for his services to music and charitable causes.
A highly regarded photographer and photography collector, selections from Nash’s extensive archives toured the world on display in dozens of museums from 1978 to 1984. In the late 80’s, he created Nash Editions, experimenting with Macintosh computers and offering digital images of his photography.
Nash is currently being featured by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in an exhibit called “Graham Nash: Touching The Flame,” which explores how rock and roll has shaped the world and inspired some of history’s most powerful figures. With Nash as narrator, the exhibit utilizes the two-time Hall of Fame Inductee’s personal collection as a guide to the highs and lows, tumult and joys of the last half century.
Pieces from Nash’s heroes and inspirations — The Beatles, The Everly Brothers, Elvis Presley, The Beach Boys, Buddy Holly and Duane Allman – and treasures from his time with the Hollies and Crosby, Stills and Nash come to life as Nash reflects on the visceral and profound impact of the music and world events upon him and those around him.
“About 9 months ago I was honored to perform, along with many great people, the (music of) The Everly Brothers,” says Nash. “As you know, their music was pivotal in my life and, whilst in Cleveland, I visited the Hall of Fame. I saw the exhibit of Paul Simon and expressed my admiration not only for Paul but for the way the Hall had arranged the show. Next thing I know they told me that ‘I was next.’”
“I wanted the Hall to represent me not only as a musician but as an artist, and they did a powerful job pulling it off,” adds Nash. “I am so proud that they chose me.”
The ever expressive Nash also released an autobiographical memoir, “Wild Tales: A Rock & Roll Life,” in 2013.
“Who really knows what the musical future of CSN or CSNY is?” says Nash, when asked if fans can expect a Crosby, Stills and Nash and maybe Young tour, “I certainly don’t.”
Currently on the road in support of “This Path Tonight,” Nash is looking forward to performing at Philadelphia’s World Café Live this month for two nights.
“I go from the beginning — some Hollies, some CSN, etc.,” says Nash. “Just Shane and I will be performing. I find that if you strip a song down to it’s essence — just a guitar or piano — then it seems to connect on a very deep level with people. After all, I’m going through the same changes as they are most of the time. I’m hoping that people will find a little peace from this crazy world for a couple of hours. Let’s join together and communicate.”
“Solo shows are good for the soul,” adds Nash. “They tend to shake me up because there’s no hiding. It’s just me with Shane and the songs. So far, the solo shows have been very therapeutic for me. It feels good to only be concentrating on myself, at last.”
“As a human being, I’m just trying to do the best I can, given whatever talents I have,” says Nash.
“I’d like everyone to live in peace and harmony with the planet itself.”