Thursday, May 22, 1997

Graham Nash

Harris: Maybe you're headed out to Wolf Trap, where tonight, one of the all-time great rock trios will be performing...Crosby, Stills, and Nash. They just finished up their sound check a few minutes ago. Joining us live now, from Wolf Trap, here's Graham Nash. Hi, Graham!

Nash: Hey Paul! How are you?

Harris: I'm doing great. It's been a lot of years since you and I spoke on the radio like this.

Nash: Yeah, about ten years, I think.

Harris: I think so, and it's great to have you back here. I want to congratulate you and the guys on the ceremony a couple of weeks ago where you went into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Congratulations.

Nash: Thanks very much.

Harris: Tell us what that night was like for you emotionally, to be dressed up and hanging out with these guys and getting that kind of ovation from the crowd.

Nash: Well, I tell you it was really neat from the point of view that I'm not a joiner of clubs. But this is a pretty cool club to be in. The past inductees are brilliant, brilliant musicians that have touched my life in many ways, and to be worthy of such company is flattering to me and I appreciate it.

Harris: Now, David is already in with The Byrds, and Stills went in twice with Buffalo Springfield and with you. When are we going to get your other band, The Hollies, in there so you're a two-timer?

Nash: Well, why don't you start a campaign. Write to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Paul!

Harris: Let's talk a little about Neil Young, who wasn't there and was kind of...well, could we say he whined about it? That's kind of what Neil Young is famous for.

Nash: Well, you know, Neil has his right to criticize, of course as we all do, and he certainly has his point. And there's a certain part of it with which I agree.

Harris: What part is that?

Nash: It is a little off-putting to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame and then be charged to go there.

Harris: You mean you had to pay to go?

Nash: Um...uh...so anyway...there are things with which you could agree with Neil. Myself, I'd put it all aside in reverence to the band of Buffalo Springfield or for those other four or five guys who waited 25 years. If Neil did not want to be on the VH-1 special, he could have said, "Don't film me," which he has done in the past. If he didn't want to pay for tickets, he didn't have to take anyone. I think he should have been there for his pals. Just a personal opinion, now.

Harris: Yeah, speaking of "Don't film me," he pulled that on you guys at Woodstock, didn't he?

Nash: He certainly did.

Harris: Which is something that a lot of people don't realize. A lot of people don't know that he was at Woodstock because he's not in the movie.

Nash: I never did ask Neil why he went down that way.

Harris: Yeah, he didn't want to be photographed. So, you had to pay to be inducted?

Nash: Just for extra tickets for family members.

Harris: Oh, I see. I hope that at least from now on when you go to the Hall of Fame, they don't ask you for a ticket. You can say, "Hey, I'm an inductee!" and just go right through the turnstile.

Nash: No, I would never do anything like that. I would just pay. You know, they do have some really cool stuff, though.

Harris: I've not been there, and I hear it's an amazing thing. I want to talk to you about a couple of protest songs that you've been associated with over the years. And one that you and Crosby and Stills still perform. In fact, last time you and I talked on the radio I asked you what your favorite Stills song was and you said it was For What It's Worth, which is one of the all-time great classic rock protest songs. Do you think that the country still has that kind of emotion in its core that we had thirty years ago when that song was written?

Nash: I'm not so sure it's as big as it was then. It was a very clearly defined set of circumstances there. You were either against the war in Vietnam or you were for the war. There was a very decisive line. You were either on one side or the other. I'm not so sure that in today's present climate that there is a galvanizing issue that could bring together the youth of the country and have them express themselves like they had in the '60s. Although there are many important issues, I'm not sure there is one galvanizing issue.

Harris: Let's talk a little bit about another protest song. You guys just went back to Kent State and did Ohio at Kent State, Ohio on the 27th anniversary of the massacre there. How was that emotionally for you?

Nash: That was very touching. That was a very sad moment because we were there to help the process of not forgetting. We can't forget what happened on May 4th, 1970, when four students gave up their lives because they had the American constitutional right of peaceful protest. They gave up their lives. And to sing that song in that spot on that anniversary was very emotional for us.

Harris: I would guess that as soon as you started playing the first couple of notes on that song -- the rest of the stuff you played would have been "Okay, we're here and we're playing" -- but as soon as you hit those first notes, I bet your heart was pounding.

Nash: Yeah, everyone's heart was pounding. It was very, very emotional.

[Ohio is played on the air]

Harris: Neil Young wrote it. Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young recorded it and that's Ohio from the boxed set. It's just an amazing piece of work. If you are a Crosby, Stills, and Nash fan and you've got it all on vinyl, you owe it to yourself to go out and buy the boxed set of the CDs, which I have, and is tremendous.

Nash: I appreciate the comments about the boxed set. I was very proud of putting that together.

Harris: I know you guys spent a lot of time and a lot of work doing it. It actually brought you guys a little closer together, didn't it?

Nash: What it did for me -- because I plowed myself into listening to about 98% of everything that was ever recorded in the past 20-odd years -- I began to fall back in love with why I love David and Steven in the first place. It put us back in touch with what our strengths were and it was a thrilling process.

Harris: And how are you guys getting along these days?

Nash: Phenomenal! I'm a very happy puppy.

Harris: Well, you see, there are times when that's not true so it's really great to hear that. All right, let's go to the phones. We're going to Laurel, Maryland -- Norman, you're on the air with Graham Nash.

Norman: Hey Graham!

Nash: Hey Norman!

Norman: Great to talk to you.

Nash: Thanks, man, how are you?

Norman: Good, thanks. I was wondering if...I sort of know the story but I was wondering, could you tell the story about how quickly Ohio was released once you all saw what was going on and what was happening there?

Nash: What we did was, as artists, we reacted to our environment and wanted to speak about it. When Crosby handed me the Time magazine with the picture on the cover with the girl crouching over the body of the slain student, I watched him write Ohio. Then he called me at Steven's house in LA, he said, "Get the studio together, we're coming down tomorrow." Neil came down from Northern California and we went into the studio and we cut it. We cut Find The Cost Of Freedom for the b-side and we put it out in ten days. We actually had a record going up into the top ten, Teach Your Children was in the top twenty, heading upwards, and we killed it stone dead with the release of Ohio.

Harris: The record company wasn't happy about that, were they?

Nash: No, I'm sure they weren't, but they began to realize, right from the very beginning, that with Crosby, Stills, and Nash and Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young that we're very strong individuals and we want our lives to be led the way we want them to.

Harris: Not your regular rock and roll animals. Thanks for calling, Norm. We're going on to Potomac. Hi, Jay, you're on with Graham Nash.

Jay: Great to talk to you. I just want to let you know that we really appreciate the fact that you're still out there making music. It's really good and I'm going to get that boxed set.

Nash: Please do, it's a great piece. That was one of the things that James Taylor said about us when he inducted us into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame; that this was a real working band. It's very obvious when people come down to see the show tonight, they'll understand that this band has been getting along better personally and musically for the past couple of years and we're flying.

Harris: Thanks for calling.

Nash: Thanks Jay, and thanks to Norman who was the first call.

Harris: All right, we're moving on to La Plata, Maryland. Robin, you're on with Graham Nash.

Robin: Hi, how are you?

Nash: I'm fine, love, how are you?

Robin: I'm fine! It's a pleasure to talk with you.

Nash: Why, thanks!

Robin: I was wondering if you think today's music could contribute more to galvanizing the youth to motivate them in the issues of homelessness, the way you guys did with war?

Nash: It might be possible. I'm not so sure that people consider homelessness to be as important as, say, the Vietnam War. One should never even try to equate them because, of course, they're tragedies on both sides of the coin. I fail to see the issue that will shock the people of this great country of ours into some decisive action. It can be done with AIDS, it could be done with other diseases, it could be done with homelessness, it could be done with education, it could be done with feeding our children -- don't forget 10 million American kids go to bed hungry every single night. There are many many things and today's music does face those issues. It's one of the great things about rap music. It leaves a lot to be desired, as far as I'm concerned, musically, but I do recognize the very important place that it has in music and in creating role models for younger kids to emulate, giving them the dream that they can make it out of whatever situation they're in. There's a lot of great music today.

Robin: Thanks!

Nash: Thanks, Robin.

Robin: Thank you. Nice talking to you.

Nash: You're welcome.

Harris: Okay, let's try this line. Hello, who is this?

Harold: This is Harold from Alexandria.

Nash: Hey, Harold, how are you?

Harold: Just fine. In your boxed set, a gentleman said "if you thought Clapton was God, then you've never heard Stills play acoustic." What's it like when you get to his Las Vegas mode? Last time you were at Wolf Trap, he was very agitated when you all started out with Love the One You're With. Will we see that fire tonight?

Nash: I think so. I think Stills has been playing better than ever. I know a lot of it sounds self- serving, but he truly has.

Harold: Well, you all are great.

Harris: All right, thanks Harold. We're going on. Hi, who's this?

Bob: Hi, this is Bob.

Harris: Bob, you're on with Graham Nash. Go ahead.

Bob: We've listened for a long time. Can you tell me what some of your favorite Hollies records were?

Nash: Yikes, boy, you don't sound as old as that!

Harris: We're all as old as that, Graham! That's the problem!

Nash: [laughs] Right. I liked Look Through Any Window, I liked Bus Stop, I liked King Midas In Reverse, I liked...there's a lot of stuff. I've been listening to a lot of Hollies stuff lately and it's beginning to sound pretty good to me.

Bob: It's very listenable. You can listen to it over and over.

Nash: Yeah, but be careful with those songs. We planted satanic messages in those. [laughs]

Bob: [laughs] Thanks a lot!

Harris: One more caller, because Graham's got to go. Hello, who's this?

John: This is John. I was curious how important you felt having your last names as the band name was in keeping you together.

Nash: Well, John, it was very important in the beginning because we'd all come out of bands that were the Buffalo Springfield, the Hollies, and who are they?

John: Right, during that era a lot of bands we're breaking up and I'd even heard quotes from the Beatles saying that when they ended it felt like a divorce when they went off in their own directions. If it was just the names and you did a duet or a solo project, then you came back, it wasn't like you had left.

Nash: That's how we designed it, under that particular set of circumstances. We knew that if we called ourselves by our real names, we'd have the freedom to play with anybody we wanted to and still have recognition.

Harris: Thanks for calling, John. Graham, we had Henry Diltz on here several months ago. Henry, of course, was the photographer of that legendary album cover with the three of you on the couch next to that house, but you're not sitting in the name order of Crosby, Stills, and Nash. You're Nash, Stills, Crosby. How come? Is the picture reversed?

Nash: No, it isn't reversed. What had happened is that we decided what to call ourselves the day after we'd shot that picture. Then when we got the proofs back, we realized that this new name that we decided to call ourselves -- because we decided that was the best way the names fell off the tongue...Crosby, Stills, Nash -- that's the best combination, we thought it rhythmically made sense. Then we realized we'd shot the picture in the wrong order. When we went back the next day to re-shoot the picture in the correct order, the house had been bulldozed into the back lot.

Harris: So it wasn't that you lost a game of rock-paper-scissors and came in third? It just sounded great?

Nash: No, it just sounded great. And for years, I've been meeting people that tell me Guinnevere is the best song that I ever wrote. And of course it was Crosby!

Harris: Right! Well, Graham, I've told you this off the air and I'll say it on the air...you're just one of the nicest guys in rock and roll. Every time I've talked to you, I've had a great time on the air with you.

Nash: Well, good, I'm not one of the luckiest people you know.

Harris: Well, you're in the Hall of Fame and that's what's important right now. I wish I could be there tonight.

Nash: No, do you know what's important right now?

Harris: What's that?

Nash: It's that I'm one hour away from showtime.

Harris: That's right. People are headed there and it's going to be a beautiful evening, a spring night out there at Wolf Trap Filene Center.

Nash: We're going to go on about 8:00. There's no opening act.

Harris: It's just these guys. Is it with your band or just the three of you?

Nash: With the band and the three of us and solo - you'll get it all tonight.

Harris: Graham, thanks for checking in. I appreciate it.

Nash: Anytime, Paul, goodbye.

Copyright 1997, Paul Harris.
Transcript by Danny Guzman.