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Graham Nash Talks ‘Wild Tales’ and Musical Friends

September 26, 2013 at 12:00 AM EST
A member of the 1960s British rock group the Hollies and one-fourth of the super-group Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Graham Nash has just come out with a new memoir of his life called "Wild Tales." Jeffrey Brown caught up with the musician during a solo tour, where they discussed some of his famous musical partners.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Finally tonight: Famed musician Graham Nash has just come out with a new memoir of his life in rock ‘n’ roll titled “Wild Tales.”

In the mid-1960s, Nash had numerous number one pop hits with the British band The Hollies. He later became part of the supergroup Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.

Jeffrey Brown talked with him recently while on a new solo tour at The Birchmere in Alexandria, Va.

Here’s an excerpt of their conversation, where Nash talked about some of his famous musical and life partners.

JEFFREY BROWN: So, let me just say names at you and give me your impression.

Stephen Stills.

GRAHAM NASH, Musician: Certainly one of the finest guitar players in the world, certainly — I think he’s a very underrated guitar player.

You know, I read the top 50 guitar players in Rolling Stone, and he’s somewhere around the bottom, and that’s just not right. He’s an incredible guitar player.

JEFFREY BROWN: David Crosby.

GRAHAM NASH: Crosby is one of the most unique musicians I know.

When I was doing his box set, and I did Stephen’s and I did mine, of course, I began to realize how unique Crosby was. His sense of jazz, which is one of his first loves, is — pervades all his music and is very different than Graham Nash music. And somehow it shouldn’t work, but it really works like a bandit.

JEFFREY BROWN: Neil Young.

GRAHAM NASH: Neil Young is probably one of the strangest of my friends. He’s adamant about following his heart. He’s serious as a heart attack about his music. He brings a darker edge.

I don’t mean darker in a negative sense, but more of an intensity to our music. The music of Crosby, Stills, Nash, it was born in the summer of love. It was lighter, sunnier. Neil’s — the sun turns down a little when Neil comes into the band.

JEFFREY BROWN: And Joni Mitchell.

GRAHAM NASH: Joni is, in my opinion, a genius. She is an outstanding woman, obviously very beautiful, but incredibly talented when it comes to songwriting. She’s really — she’s really painting with words.

JEFFREY BROWN: And what about Graham Nash? What did you bring to all this?

GRAHAM NASH: Wow.

JEFFREY BROWN: I stumped you finally …

GRAHAM NASH: Yes, what did Graham Nash bring to this madness?

Maybe a little stability. I had been through it all with The Hollies. I had been through all the screaming girls. I had been through all the crowds where you couldn’t hear yourself play because of the noise they were making. I had been through having my clothes torn. I had been through all that, so it was no big deal to me.

I wasn’t even nervous at Woodstock. It was Stephen that said that we were scared, you know.

JEFFREY BROWN: But you talk about girls and people ripping your clothes. There’s a lot of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll in this memoir.

GRAHAM NASH: But it’s not only that.

JEFFREY BROWN: No.

GRAHAM NASH: It’s about love and friendship and loyalty and being there for your friends when they’re obviously hurting. That was one of my main concerns with this book was how David Crosby would react to it, because I was brutally honest about it.

JEFFREY BROWN: Chronicling all his problems.

GRAHAM NASH: Yes, about what was going on with him and how it affected me personally.

So when I called David and talked to him, he said, no, I did all that. I did put you guys through all that. I did spiral down. Every word is true. Don’t change a word.

And it gave me a great sense of relief.

GWEN IFILL: You can watch Jeff’s full conversation with Graham Nash on the Art Beat page on our website.