Friday, 18 May 2018

Book Review - Wild Tales by Graham Nash

I finished Graham Nash's autobiography last night and I would certainly recommend it to anyone interested in the whole Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young circus. But I have to say it does end rather abruptly. He generally goes into quite a bit of detail on the various albums he released post-Hollies but there is no mention of the last two CSN albums or the double album he recorded with Crosby in 2004 or the last CSN&Y album 'Looking Forward'. It's as if he had a deadline to reach and ran out of time to complete the book.

I can understand why Crosby was unhappy with some of the content as Nash doesn't hold back in his descriptions of how bad a state Crosby was in during his freebasing coke years. There is one quite shocking incident where Croz, as he's known to his friends, had disappeared leaving Jan with one of his dealers who brought a couple of thugs to their house. They then stole whatever valuables they could find and beat Jan up. On the one hand it showed how bad a state Crosby was in - that he would abandon his partner like that - but I felt that we really didn't need Nash to go into the detail he did about what happened to the hapless Jan. 

I wouldn't be surprised if this is one of the reasons why the two of them have fallen out and are saying they will never work together again, though this is a feature of CSN&Y over the years. They are all such headstrong personalities that it only seems to be a matter of time before they will fall out with each other, be that in the studio or on tour. But this rift between Crosby and Nash does seem quite serious and it may well be that the four of them, or three of them or indeed the two of them never perform or record together again. But we have an impressive back catalogue of all the various permutations and plenty of solo albums to enjoy. Nash does admit that at times the material wasn't good enough, for example on the 'American Dream' album but Young had promised Crosby that he would return to the mothership, as CSN&Y is called, once David had done his time in prison.

One thing I struggled with while reading the book is that on the one hand Nash bangs on about all the benefit concerts he's done over the years for environmental causes etc, but then admits quite freely that he seems to have spent half his life in the air (his home at the time of writing being Hawaii). God only knows what his carbon footprint is like. And unlike contemporaries such as Harrison and McCartney, Nash doesn't seem at all interested in adopting a vegetarian diet. He says that when Crosby was released from prison, he took him for a meal and bought him the biggest steak he'd seen in years.  I'm reminded of the Neil Young song 'Hippie Dream' which includes the following lyrics (incidentally Nash was no stranger to cocaine himself but stopped taking it in 1984) - 

And the wooden ships
Are a hippie dream
Capsized in excess
If you know what I mean

Another flower child
Goes to seed
In an ether-filled
Room of meat-hooks
It's so ugly

He's quite a complex character is our Graham, perhaps not to the same extent as Neil Young, and certainly a workaholic but is driven by his love of music. He describes how all three members of Crosby, Stills and Nash remain extremely prolific songwriters. He's touring the UK in July and playing a hometown gig at the Lowry in Salford which I imagine will be quite a night. 

https://www.grahamnash.com/#tourdates

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