At this point in his career, you would understand if Graham Nash were gliding quietly towards retirement. Now 75, the singer/songwriter has been in two monster bands: The Hollies and Crosby, Stills, Nash (& sometimes Young). Yet, as he speaks from his home in New York City, where he recently moved to from Hawaii following a divorce, Nash is as vibrant and focused as he was during his heyday.
“I needed to follow my heart,” Nash says of his move to Gotham. “I fell in love with this beautiful lady here in New York City who is an incredibly talented artist and my life changed dramatically.”
Being a senior citizen usually isn’t conducive to such a move, nevertheless a reemergence in a creative fashion. Nash started writing at a vigorous pace while on the road with CSN that laid the foundation for a new studio album.
Nash released This Path Tonight last year, his first since 2009. Albums following divorces — especially following 38 years of marriage — can be cold and embittered. Yet, the record is inspired and the happiness is apparent from the jump. The period following the divorce saw the veteran rocker write 20 songs in about a month with Shane Fontayne, and record them in just eight days. That prolific pace was reminiscent of spry younger years.
“You must understand that the Crosby, Still and Nash record (1982’s) Daylight Again made it through two Super Bowls,” the British-bred songwriter says. “So eight days for me is quite fast.”
Performing the songs has been refreshing for the old pro. Being on tour with his new backing band has allowed him to perform those in the barebones fashion that stay faithful to the original manner in which they were composed. “The truth is that when you do it like this, you either have a good song or you don’t,” Nash says. “You can’t fucking hide anything!”
Touring has allowed Nash to reconnect with audience in intimate theaters that aren’t possible when he plays with CSN. Being able to see the reaction of almost every audience members remains an important part of performing for Nash and watching them respond to his new material shows that he’s doing his job as a songwriter.
As our conversation shifts towards the topic of Trump, Nash’s tone grows more hostile. Coming from a man who sang about “Woodstock” and “Ohio” it’s not surprising that the singer is sour on the president, and is even more annoyed that his tax dollars as a New York City citizen is paying for the First Lady to reside in Trump Tower.
“There’s no time to be straddling the line, there’s only time for resistance and belief,” he says defiantly. “It would have been very easy to have left this country when Trump elected, but you can’t do that. If you don’t stay and fight, he’s going to set this country back 50 years, particularly in women’s issues.
“The fact is he has no grace or style. There was this clip of Obama outside of Starbucks and in that 20 step walk, he had more class than Trump ever will.”
Nash says that his despising of the president will undoubtably present itself as topics in his future work. There’s “several things brewing” in his head about how to handle this creatively, but also insists that “we’re running out of time.”
As for his old CSN (and sometimes Y) band mates, Nash keeps in touch with Stephen Stills (“We talk every few weeks), Neil Young (“Every time there’s a moon in the sky, Neil’s recording”), but not David Crosby. But even these trying times can defuse even the most visceral of feuds. In this case, it means a potential reconciliation with Crosby, who somehow is now more known for his no-chill Twitter account as he has his harmonies.
“The stupid things that are keeping us apart pale in comparison to the importance of what’s going on right now,” he explains. “It’s just four boys who grew up and in a way, didn’t grow up. We’ve been in this select bubble for 45 years, and maybe it’s time we start talking to each other now.”
But for now, Graham Nash is focused on his solo material. A sign of a successful show would be on this current California run is the basic of goals.
“I want to see them falling in love with their partner and thinking about what’s going on in the world,” he says. “In this shit world, I want them to see how wonderful it really is, how terrible it is at the same time.”
Graham Nash performs at Segerstrom Center for the Arts on Saturday, April 1. For full details and tickets, click here.
Daniel Kohn is a writer based in Southern California. With bylines in an assortment of outlets, Kohn primarily specializes in music with other interests ranging from sports to food. As a transplant, Kohn loves the beautiful weather and is glad he no longer has to deal with brutal winters. If you see him, say hi and of course, he’s always willing to down a beer or two…if you’re paying.