Graham Nash to Play in Redding
● By Phil Reser
It Always Comes Down to the Music
Story by Phil Reser
Photos by Amy Grantham
Life is not perfect. It never will be.
You just have to make the very best of it,
and you have to open your heart
to what the world can show you;
and sometimes it's terrifying,
and sometimes it's incredibly beautiful,
and I'll take both.” - Graham Nash
IN A CAREER that spans more than 50 years, musician Graham Nash helped shape the foundation of modern rock. It started with his early inventive efforts with the Hollies, which found him composing melodies inspired by Buddy Holly with the harmonies of the Everly Brothers, and basically redefining the term “folk rock” via Crosby, Stills, Nash and (sometimes) Young.
Nash can claim several distinctive honors attained as a result of individual efforts. In 2010, he was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in recognition of his services to music and charity. He also holds four honorary degrees,including music honors from the University of Salford in Manchester, England, and a doctorate in fine arts from Lesley University in Cambridge, Mass.
In 2013, Nash released his autobiography “Wild Tales,” a look back at his remarkable career and the music that defined a generation. He writes about his lower-class childhood in post-war England, and his early days in the British Invasion group The Hollies; becoming the lover and muse of Joni Mitchell; reaching superstardom with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young; and his enduring career as a solo musician and political activist. Nash has valuable insights into a world and time he experienced at its epicenter, along with anecdotes from sharing time with the Beatles, the Stones, Hendrix, Case Elliot, Dylan and other rock luminaries.
Towering above virtually everything that Nash has accomplished stands the litany of songs that he has written and introduced to the soundtrack of the past half-century. He’s written more than 200 songs, including hits “Carrie Anne,” “On A Carousel,” “Simple Man,” “Our House,” “Marrakesh Express” and “Teach Your Children.”
“I was trained in my time with the Hollies to write two-and-a-half-minute songs to play right before the news. We knew how to make hit records; we knew how to create music you couldn’t forget after you heard it twice. But the lyrics were a little juvenile, a little teenager. But when I came to America and started hanging out with David Crosby and Stephen Stills and Neil Young and Joni Mitchell, my songwriting changed. I realized that if I took the melodic ideas that I’d learned with the Hollies and brought more decent lyrics to those changes, we had a better song.”
Nash’s first solo album in 14 years, “This Path Tonight,” was released in 2016. Leading up to that, he produced 16 CDs and played 400 shows, “but ‘This Path Tonight’ came out of chaos in my personal life.”
On the album, he explores his emotional journey in a set of songs co-written with Shane Fontayne, former guitarist for CSN, who also served as producer. On the gently fingerpicked “Myself at Last,” one of the album’s most poignant tracks, Nash ponders the question, “Is my future just my past?” In the closing “Encore,” he wonders, “What are you gonna do when the applause is all over / And you can’t turn your back on what you face?”
Nash is also an internationally renowned photographer and visual artist. His honors include the New York Institute of Technology’s Arts & Technology Medal and Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters and the Hollywood Film Festival’s inaugural Hollywood Visionary Cyber Award. His work is collected in the book “Eye to Eye: Photographs.”
“I work feverishly in all forms of media: acrylics, stone, linoleum cuts, lithography, collage, a variety of printmaking, and of course, ink-jet art. To this day, a camera is never far from my reach. I get such a unique perspective looking at the world through a lens, an outlook that has captivated me all of my life. An enormous gift, being able to look at things in a different way, simply, imaginatively, magically, with open eyes. It taught me to become more aware of my surroundings, and to see the beauty that exists around us all the time.” •
Graham Nash Trio, October 3
Cascade Theatre, Redding