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Graham Nash to visit Maine on Record Store Day' April 16

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Graham Nash to visit Maine on Record Store Day' April 16 (Photo courtesy of Amy Grantham)

The singer talks about his new album and the end of Crosby, Stills & Nash

Graham Nash has written songs that have become an important part of the lives of generations of listeners. From 'Carrie Anne,' 'On a Carousel,' 'King Midas in Reverse,' and 'Jennifer Eccles' as a member of The Hollies in the mid-60s to 'Marrakesh Express,' 'Our House,' 'Teach Your Children,' 'Just a Song Before I Go,' and 'Wasted on The Way' as a member of Crosby, Stills & Nash (and sometimes Young), Nash's songs tend to be melodic and direct.

Nash's new album, the acoustic-based 'This Path Tonight' (out Friday) is his first solo project in 14 years and features his finest batch of songs since 1971's 'Songs For Beginners.'

To celebrate the new release, Nash plans a visit to Bull Moose in Scarborough, 456 Payne Road, on Saturday April 16 at 1:00 p.m. for 'Record Store Day.' Nash will sign copies of 'This Path Tonight' with a bonus 7' containing his classic songs 'Our House' and 'Teach Your Children.'

'Record Store Day' is an international celebration of independent record stores, started in 2008 by Bull Moose head of marketing, Chris Brown.

Nash called from New York City on Monday morning to talk about Record Store Day, 'This Path Tonight', The Hollies and the dissolution of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

Mike Dow: Let's begin with Record Store Day. It has turned into a huge global event that is now recognized in 21 countries on five continents and it all started here in Maine. Why is it important for you to get involved with an event like Record Store Day?

Graham Nash: They're incredibly important people in the connection between a musician and his audience. These independent record stores, these 'mom and pop' stores and these people who are mainly responsible for the resurgence of vinyl - we need all these links between me writing songs and you as a record buyer. These independent stores are very, very important and should be supported.

Dow: A few weeks ago, news circulated that you would not work with David Crosby again, effectively bringing CSN&Y to a close since Neil has pretty much said the same thing. Since that story broke, has David contacted you to apologize?

Nash: No. Not at all. It's over. We had a good inning, as they say in England. We were around for almost 50 years and we made some really fine music but it's over.

Dow: As I understand it, you have no issues with Stephen or Neil. It's just David that's being impossible is that right?

Nash: I'm not going to go into it. It's personal between David and I and that's just the way it is.

Dow: I heard some rumblings that you are considering putting together a CSN&Y Fillmore East box set with video and music from the 1971 shows recorded there. Is that something you would still like to do at some point?

Nash: It is but it gets a little tricky. With my friend, Joel Bernstein, we produced a CSN&Y 1974 stadium tour box set (in 2014). When you need opinions from four people, it gets a little sticky. It gets a little long. I'm thinking about those Fillmore East shows that CSN&Y did not only in '71 but in '70 also. There's some good stuff there. We recorded on multi-track and we filmed there but I need to give it all a rest so I can concentrate on 'This Path Tonight.'

Dow: I've been listening to your new album and I think it's one of the best records you've ever made. Were all of the songs on 'This Path Tonight' written specifically for this album?

Nash: Yes, these songs were all written in October 2014. I wrote them with my friend Shane Fontayne and he produced a beautiful piece of music for me. Shayne and I share a bus when we travel around the world and we wrote 20 songs for this album and recorded them in just over a week.

Dow: The album has ten tracks that come from a very personal perspective questioning life, love and what it all means - plus three 'bonus tracks.' Tell me about those songs.

Nash: One of the three bonus tracks ('The Last Fall') is a love song to my new love, Amy Grantham. The others are as you might say a little pointed. One is called 'Watch Out For The Wind' that Shane and I wrote when Michael Brown was shot in Ferguson, Missouri. The other is called 'Mississippi Burning' about the three college students who were murdered in the 60s while trying to help Black people vote.

Dow: In 'Myself at Last,' you sing 'It's so hard to fight the past.' That line probably resonates with many of your contemporaries who are still recording and playing. When you're responsible for such a successful and well-loved body of work, do you sometimes feel like you're competing with yourself when you put out something new?

Nash: No, I've never felt that. Competition with myself? No. I'm not a competitive person. I do enjoy the success that I've had but I don't want to be trapped by my past. I'm very proud of my work with The Hollies in the 60s and very proud of my work with David, Stephen and Neil but there's more music to be made. Let's get on with it.

Dow: Your voice sounds very strong on this record. Really, it hasn't changed much - if at all. Do you do anything special to take care of it?

Nash: Yes, I breathe. I don't do anything special, Michael. I don't have a vocal coach. I don't do vocal exercises. I warm up a little before we go on stage but only for 10 minutes. It's completely natural to me. I'm a lucky boy.

Dow: You pack a lot of big feelings into the new song 'Golden Days.' Are you singing about The Hollies or Crosby, Stills & Nash?

Nash: It's a song that Shane and I wrote that stretches from my days in The Hollies. The middle part is about how difficult life was after World War II in the north of England. The third section is about what I consider to be the golden days' which is today. I know humanity faces a lot of important problems but I really do believe that there are millions of good things that get done every day that you never hear about because, quite frankly, it's only bad news that sells.

Dow: There's a line in the song - 'Words of so much hope for a brighter day.' Correct me if I'm wrong but I took that almost as an indictment that your generation - the peace and love generation - did not affect as much change as you had set out to do. Am I off-base there?

Nash: I think you're a little off-base. I still consider myself to be a hippie and what we stood for still stands today. That love IS better than hate. Peace IS better than war. We need to take care of our fellow man because we're all we have on this planet. I really think the 60s movement changed culture a great deal.

Dow: When I listen to The Hollies, I marvel at the quality of the songs and the recording. Some of that material is stunning. Do you look back on your time in The Hollies with as much fondness as we do?

Nash: I'm getting there (laughs). When I first joined David and Stephen, I didn't talk too much about The Hollies just like they didn't talk about being in The Byrds or Buffalo Springfield. We had all this new music and these new relationships we had, but I'm very proud of the energy and the purity of some of The Hollies' songs. Somebody once sent me a CD with 60 tracks of The Hollies performing on the BBC. My goodness, we were pretty good. We were a fine band.

Dow: Those BBC tracks were done very quickly, weren't they?

Nash: Oh yeah. And live, of course - you couldn't start a song again if you messed it up.

Dow: You are frequently referred to as a 'legend,' but you certainly don't sound like the sort of person who believes they are legendary.

Nash: I'm an ordinary human being. I know I do something special with my time but I'm just trying to find my way through this incredibly difficult life.

Dow: You've played in Maine several times over the years. What comes to mind when you think of our state?

Nash: Two things. Your Museum of Modern Art in Portland. Also, I remember how dusty it used to be before they got real venues in there. We used to play in what seemed like this open field in Portland, Maine (Note: Nash could be thinking of Lewiston Raceway or Oxford Plains Speedway. Crosby, Stills & Nash played both venues). It was incredibly dusty. It's not that way anymore, of course, but in those early days it was.

Dow: Who's making music today that you really enjoy?

Nash: David Gilmour is doing some nice stuff lately (Nash appears on Gilmour's last two solo albums). Jason Mraz is doing some nice stuff. We're just another link in this long chain of musicians that stretches all the way from somebody banging on a log a million years ago to Lady Gaga. We're just links in a chain and it's interesting to see it all turning.

Dow: One of your new songs - 'Encore' - really jumped out at me from the first listen. 'Who are you gonna be when the lights are fading?' almost anyone can relate to the lyrics of this song, especially if they're a little older. Was there anyone specific that you had in mind when you wrote it?

Nash: Probably me. I want to be known as a decent human being who tried to make the world a better place for his friends and family and everybody else. I've been an amazingly lucky man all my life and I'm still enjoying it.

'The Big Morning Show with Mike Dow' can be heard on Big 104 FM The Biggest Hits of the '60s, '70s & '80s - airing on 104.7 (Bangor/Belfast), 104.3 (Augusta/Waterville) 107.7 (Bar Harbor/Ellsworth) and WAEI AM 910.

Last modified on Sunday, 17 April 2016 12:44

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