Graham Nash

It’s Graham Nash’s birthday today, which seems like a jolly good reason to reacquaint yourselves with some of the fine music he has helped create down the years, or perhaps, lucky you, discover some of it for the first time. From the joy-filled pop classics of The Hollies to the stunning vocal harmonies that came about when working with David Crosby, Stephen Stills and occasionally Neil Young, the trio that became a quartet were counter-culture standard-bearers whose songs have brought solace to many during turbulent times.

Two lines stand out. From ‘Teach Your Children Well’, originally written for The Hollies, from Déjà Vu (1970):

“You of tender years can’t know the fears that your elders grew by”

The other is from ‘To the Last Whale (A. Critical Mass/B. Wind On the Water)’, which closes 1975’s Wind On the Water, the second Crosby & Nash album:

“It’s a shame you have to die to put the shadow on our eye”

Great lines that make you pause to think. Maybe you have a favourite lyric that resonates strongly with you.

I’ve always loved Hollies hits and those exquisite three-part harmonies with Messrs Crosby and Stills equally, yet perhaps, on reflection, I admire Graham Nash most of all for always speaking his mind – for example, here, here, on ‘Almost Gone (The Ballad of Bradley Manning)’, written with James Raymond, or here.

OK, just about any interview with Graham Nash is worth a read. Or a view, as this recent conversation with Rita Coolidge ably demonstrates.

And yes, Crosby, Stills & Nash is still one of the coolest album covers ever, don’t you think?

One of the musical highlights from the last year was This Path Tonight, Graham’s sixth solo studio album, released in April; I’m listening to his second as I write this, 1974’s Wild Tales – ‘Oh! Camil (The Winter Soldier)’ and ‘Prison Song’ are its stand-out tracks for me.

For his political activism, his support of liberal and environmental causes (not to mention his backing of Gary McKinnon) and for the incomparable beauty he and David Crosby added to On an Island, both live and in the studio, I hope you can raise a glass of whatever it is you like to drink in a toast tonight to one of music’s most frank and fearless servants.