By Mary Ann Bourbeau
RED BANK – Graham Nash is looking forward to his upcoming tour, which kicks off March 6 at the Count Basie Center for the Arts.
“What I like about playing small, intimate theaters is that I get to see my audience’s eyes and their responses,” he said. “It’s a very different experience from playing arenas and stadiums.”
Nash will perform music from his 2018 album, “Over the Years,” a two-disc collection of songs from his 50-year career plus more than a dozen unreleased demos and mixes. He will be accompanied by longtime collaborator and producer Shane Fontayne on guitar and vocals and former Crosby, Stills & Nash (CSN) keyboard player and vocalist Todd Caldwell.
Nash wrote many songs as a member of the Hollies, including “Stop Stop Stop” and “Carrie Anne.” His hits with Crosby, Still, Nash and – sometimes – Young became the soundtrack to the past half century, with songs like “Teach Your Children,” “Our House,” “Marrakesh Express” and “Just a Song Before I Go.”
His solo career included the songs, “Chicago/We Can Change the World” and “Simple Man.”
After half a century as a songwriter, does he have any favorites?
“I love every one of them,” he said in a recent phone interview. “I don’t place any more importance on “Our House” than a less familiar song. I sing every song with the same passion as when I wrote it. I’m not phoning it in, even when I’ve sung the song thousands of times.”
In between songs, he enjoys telling the audience where the ideas for them originated.
“People who enjoy music but don’t write are fascinated with songwriting,” he said. “They want to know the impetus, where I was mentally when I wrote it.” “Pre-Road Downs” and “Another Sleep Song” were written for his then-girlfriend, Joni Mitchell. “Wasted on the Way” lamented the time, energy and love lost by years of quarreling within CSN. “I still talk to Neil and Stephen,” he said. “I’m very proud of the music we made.”
Nash is a two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member, inducted in 1997 with Crosby, Stills and Nash, and again in 2010 with the Hollies. He is also a Grammy Award winner and a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
“It’s very fulfilling, particularly in the case of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame,” he said. “I never got into the business of making music to win awards, but it’s nice to be recognized. It feels good.”
He is particularly proud of the honor bestowed on him by Queen Elizabeth in 2010, when he was appointed as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire, in a ceremony held at Buckingham Palace.
“I was standing in front of Her Majesty the Queen,” said Nash. “All the time I was thinking how proud my parents would be, a poor kid from Northern England getting this award.”
On Jan. 31, Nash received the UK Americana Music Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award, presented by Hollies co-founder Allen Clarke. But his music honors are not the only accomplishments that he is proud of. He has supported many social causes, among them organizing the No Nukes/Musicians United for Safe Energy concerts in 1979 along with Jackson Browne and Bonnie Raitt.
In 2013, Nash released his autobiography, “Wild Tales,” a no-holds barred look at his life and career. It landed him on The New York Times best-seller list. He is also an internationally renowned photographer, with his work shown in galleries and museums around the world.
His interest in photography began at age 10, when his father would take him to the zoo and shoot pictures of the animals. After they got back home, Nash would follow his father into the darkroom and watch him develop the film.
“I watched as the image came out of nowhere,” he said. “I never forgot that magic.”
Graham Nash will perform an intimate evening of songs and stories at 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 6. Tickets are $25 to $79. For information on VIP packages, visit thebasie.org.
An Insider’s Guide to Graham Nash
Revisiting the Hollies
Nash was a founding member of The Hollies, a British band he helped lead from 1962 to 1968, before parting ways with the outfit to start the supergroup Crosby, Stills and Nash.
“Stop, Stop, Stop” and “Carrie Anne” are the two Hollies tracks Nash will break out during his solo shows.
It was at Joni Mitchell’s house in 1968 that Nash asked David Crosby and Stephen Stills to perform a song for a living room audience. In 1997, Crosby, Still and Nash (CSN) would be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
“Our House” and “Marakesh Express” are two timeless CSN staples that were denied by The Hollies, as is “Just a Song Before I Go.” Nash still includes these tunes in his solo sets, and will often close the evening with the classic CSN cut “Teach Your Children.”
An Even More Super Group
Sometimes the CSN trio would be joined by the legendary songwriter Neil Young. Over the years, he and Nash would sit down to write together, sessions that produced such notable works as “War Song” and “Immigration Man,” which you may just hear in Red Bank.
Nash may have been successful working with others, but as a solo performer his compositions have also been impactful.
“Chicago/We Can Change the World” documented the 1968 trial of the Chicago Eight and often appears in Nash’s set lists to this day. You can also expect to hear selections from his breakthrough 1973 solo collection, Songs for Beginners, like “Simple Man” and “Military Madness,” and other fan favorites like “Another Sleep Song” and “Myself at Last.”
Those in attendance might catch Nash honoring two of his biggest influences, Buddy Holly and The Beatles.
Holly served as a driving force behind the songwriting of The Hollies, while Nash has gushed over the years about the significance and excellence of the fab four.
Nash will often slip into his sets a cover of the Holly classic “Peggy Sue” and a stirring rendition of The Beatles “A Day in the Life.”
This article was first published in the Feb. 28-March. 6, 2019 print edition of The Two River Times.
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