Graham Nash dishes ahead of Minneapolis show: ‘I’m not talking to Crosby and I don’t want to’
Hes been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice. Once with Crosby, Stills Nash and then again with the Hollies.
But right now Graham Nash is preoccupied with his latest solo album his first in 14 years as he performs in small venues such as the Dakota on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The album, 2016s This Path Tonight, mostly chronicles his divorce from his wife of 38 years. Hes moved on, settling down with his photographer girlfriend in New York City after decades of living in Hawaii.
The 76-year-born British-born singer-songwriter called recently to chat about the new album, his intimate tour and the state of CSN, among other topics.
Q: Whats it like to play small venues?
A: As you know Ive played to hundreds of thousands at once, but this time I wanted to play small, intimate theaters where I can see my audience. I want to look in their eyes and make sure I make a connection. Two things for my audience: They need to know that I want to be there and I want to give them value for their money.
Q: What can we expect?
A: Everything from the Hollies to CSNY. Love songs, political songs, ordinary songs, beautiful songs. Ive written a lot of songs in my life.
Its going to be a lovely night of music and stories. People want to know where do songs come from. I tell them from the most ordinary moments. I tell them from me and Joni [Mitchell] going to breakfast and passing an antiques store on the way home and it was terribly cold a foggy rainy Los Angeles morning. Just awful.
We got back to Jonis house and I said, Hey, why dont I light a fire and you put some flowers in that vase you just bought? Well, its the opening verse of Our House.
Q: What is it like to sing songs about divorce even though youve moved on and are quite happy?
A: I still think theyre important songs. Maybe someones going through what I went through and can gain a little insight from them.
Q: How has living in New York City these past few years changed your view of the United States?
A: Its not important which city Im in. Im an American citizen, I have been for over 30 years. I wanted to vote. I wanted to be part of this great country. I wanted to speak my mind. Nobody has to listen. We dont have any answers but we have a lot of questions.
It seems to be very similar to Watergate to me. I religiously watched Watergate every day on television. Im feeling the very same thing. We have a man who is the head of the Republican Party and hes supposedly our president. I dont want to get political. But America, the great country it is, deserves better.
Q: Are you writing more political or social commentary songs now because of the state of the nation?
A: Im always writing. I wrote a song with Shane Fontayne about Michael Brown when he got killed in Ferguson, Missouri. Ill sing it when I see you and Ill sing Mississippi Burning about the three college students who got murdered in the mid-60s.
Q: Whats the state of Crosby, Stills Nash?
A: There is no state of Crosby, Stills Nash. None of us are talking to [David] Crosby and we dont want to. Thats the way it is, Im afraid.
Q: When was the last time you talked to Crosby?
A: Shockingly, over two years ago. I was his best friend for so many years. I saved his ass on so many levels its insane. For him to treat one of his so-called best friends the way Crosby has treated me, I just wont stand for it, Im afraid.
Q: Does it have to do with the way Crosby reacted to your 2013 memoir Wild Tales: A Rock Roll Life? He called it a bunch of BS.
A: Yes, some of it. Its just the way it is. Im not talking to Crosby and I dont want to.
Q: I assume theres no state of CSNY, either?
A: Correct. Because if Im pissed at Crosby, you can bet Neil [Young] is pissed at Crosby.
Q: What ever happened with that CSN album you were recording with producer Rick Rubin in 2010?
A: It blew up. We found it very difficult to work with Rick after a while. Rick and Crosby started to get in each others face and it was over. It was a good idea but it didnt last.
Q: What were the songs?
A: Covers. Close Your Eyes by James Taylor. Behind Blue Eyes by the Who. Across the Universe by the Beatles. Blackbird. Norwegian Wood. We had a lot of songs we wanted to do.
Q: Did you consider any Bob Dylan songs?
A: No. Stephen [Stills] was doing Ballad of Hollis Brown at one point but it didnt suit harmony.
Q: The last time I saw CSN in 2015, Stephen Stills voice was rough at times. Whats the challenge of harmonizing with him in recent years?
A: We have in-ear monitors. When Stephen can hear correctly, hes fine. When he cant, its hard for him to sing in pitch. He tries his best all the time and thats all you can ask.
Q: Hows your relationship with Neil Young?
A: Pretty good. I had collected a lot of the manuscripts that Neil had written over the years. And I had breakfast with him at the Carlyle Hotel in New York City about a couple of months ago and gave him back all these original handwritten lyrics. My relationship with Neil always has been pretty good. Were like brothers. I never had brothers in my personal family. But David and Stephen and Neil have been my brothers for years.
Q: Historically, who has been the most difficult to deal with?
A: Some people would say me. It depends on what the subject is and what were doing. Were all pretty difficult when rubbed the wrong way. We do have four strong egos and four strong personalities, thats for sure.
Q: How did that play into the success of your group?
A: Originally we were all in love with each other. We were in love with the songs. We were in love with the energy. I hardly knew Stephen when we started. Developing those friendships was all very well. But as usual with family, after 50 years, sometimes you dont agree with your family. Weve been at it for 50 years. Thats a long time for anything.
Twitter: @JonBream 612-673-1719