Category Archives: Graham Nash

Graham Nash Discography

As a member of The Hollies and Crosby Stills & Nash, Graham Nash has contributed a remarkable number of classic songs to the pop/rock canon including “Carrie Anne,” “Marrakesh Express,” “Teach Your Children,” “Our House,” “Just A Song Before I Go” and “Wasted On The Way.” Of course, I’d be remiss in my role as a critic if I didn’t point out that none of those songs come courtesy of his solo albums or his affiliation as (the presumably more responsible) half of Crosby & Nash. As a body of work, Nash’s own efforts would rest somewhere between Stills and Crosby in terms of their quality and commercial impact. Not surprisingly, his first solo album (Songs For Beginners) is his most well known, having sold over 500,000 copies in the US on the strength of CSN’s post-breakup visibility.

In addition to music, Nash has dedicated much of his time to photography, printing and charity work (notably No Nukes). Many of his songs are pro-environment and anti-war. He was awarded the Order of the British Empire in 2010.

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Graham Nash/David Crosby (1972)

CronNaMyth 1.0: 2 OUT OF 3 AIN’T HALF BAD. After the initial flurry of CS&N solo albums, none of which mercifully featured tin pan alley standards or 30 minutes of therapeutic wailing, Graham Nash and David Crosby decided to re-form as a duo with the support of a band of session players dubbed The Mighty Jitters: Craig Doerge (keyboards), Danny “Kootch” Kortchmar (guitar), Russell Kunkel (drums) and Leland Sklar (bass). The results on Graham Nash/David Crosby were good enough to sustain the pair’s commercial momentum, going gold soon after its release and generating two singles including the Top 40 “Immigration Man,” which could be seen as a cross between The Beatles’ “The Ballad of John & Yoko” (thematically) and “Taxman” (musically and especially in Greg Reeves’ insistent bass track). Rather than re-create the soaring harmonies of CS&N, however, this reunion essentially amounts to half of a solo album each from Crosby and Nash shuffled together. Nash’s contributions favor the Bob Dylan/Beatles sound set forward on earlier songs like “Our House” (in fact, “Strangers Room,” originally written in 1969, sounds like that song filtered through Traffic), while Crosby’s songs suggest a male Joni Mitchell: jazzy and mysterious and troubled. Over their careers, many of these songs would be counted among their best: “Southbound Train,” “Page 43,” “The Wall Song,” “Immigration Man,” “Strangers Room.” The financial motivation for such a merger can’t be discounted, yet Graham Nash/David Crosby remains one of the most gratifying extracurricular outings from the CS&N axis, a snapshot of two artists still at their peak. Crosby and Nash were happy enough with the result to repeat the experiment in the mid 70s and even tour together, though neither Wind On The Water nor Whistling Down The Wire matched the success of their first.

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David Crosby/Graham Nash: Wind On The Water (1975)

The pair’s second project together produced another gold record and a minor hit in Crosby’s “Carry Me.” Although nothing on here is as catchy as “Southbound Train,” it’s still a solid effort, buoyed by excellent playing and some good material from Crosby (“Low Down Payment,” “Homeward Through The Haze”). The songs from Nash are crankier this time and less satisfying, with “Mama Lion” being the best of his bits (the album smartly leads off with its two best tracks). A pair of songs credited to Crosby and Nash together are also highlights and invite the closest comparison to the work of CSN: “Naked In The Rain” and “To The Last Whale.” Listening to this record, I’m often reminded of Steely Dan. The songwriting isn’t nearly as strong, but the backing band (The Mighty Jitters) does a great job of adding the right touches to the music. “Bittersweet” and “Homeward Through The Haze,” for example, might have dissipated into nothing if not for the flesh-and-blood arrangements of the band. Crosby and Nash also call in a few favors with guest appearances from Jackson Browne, Levon Helm, Carole King and James Taylor. None of them feature prominently in the music, but you can’t help but be impressed. The closing “To The Last Whale” is arguably the most ambitious thing that the pair have tried together. It starts with a kind of plainchant opening (“Critical Mass”), then shifts into the title track, which seeks to save the whale by song and remains one of my favorite Crosby/Nash moments. It’s certainly not a perfect record and not on a par with the best of CSN, but Wind On The Water promises smooth sailing for Crosby/Nash fans.

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Crosby-Nash: Whistling Down The Wire (1976)

CroNaMyth 3.0: WASTED ON THE WAIT. Each C&N album seems a little less magical than the last, as if with each rubbing of the lamp their collective genie-us grew weaker. There was still enough magic left to produce a gold record out of Whistling Down The Wire, but not enough to produce a hit single from “Out of the Darkness.” I’ve listened to this album dozens of times (it was the first C&N album I owned) and, even so, rarely walk away humming any of it. The two Crosby-Nash songwriting collaborations—“Broken Bird,” “Taken At All”—are the obvious highlights, as they deliver on the promise of pretty harmonies and thoughtful pacing. I also enjoy Nash’s bittersweet “Marguerita.” The rest of the record could accurately be described as mid 70s studio rock, of which there was hardly a deficiency during the decade. The subsequent CSN reunion revealed the Crosby & Nash collaboration for what it was: a gold solution to a multiplatinum phenomenon. When CSN dissolved again, Nash continued the experiment on his own with Earth & Sky while Crosby wrestled with his demons. Given the troubled history of CSN&Y, there’s no reason to believe that the Crosby-Nash affiliation was motivated by anything other than money. Of course, lots of things are motivated by money, and some of them still have benevolent consequences. As I’ve mused elsewhere, the Crosby-Nash albums were a kindness to fans because they put the pair’s best feet forward, one foot from each. And they had the support of the Mighty Jitters, one of the best backing bands this side of Muscle Shoals. You’ll want the proper CSN albums before this, the first two solo albums from Crosby and Nash individually and the first two C&N albums too; if you’ve acquired those and still wish for Wire, have at it.

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Crosby-Nash: Live (1977)

CroNaMyth 4.0: IT WAS SO NICE OF YOU TO COME. CSNY is a discographer’s green maze of delight. You have the CSN albums proper (they actually released one in 1977), the alliances (Crosby-Nash, Stills-Young), the solo albums, the genealogy (Byrds, Hollies, Buffalo) and the cameos. Kind of a self-sustaining ecosystem of soft rock, really. In fact, it’s a pretty big world; so big that an album like Crosby-Nash Live naturally gets lost. Discovering a cut-cornered copy in a record store (as I did) fills out a branch on the family tree with one more leaf. If you’re out on the same limb thinking it looks a little thin, Live may leaf you happier. The digitally remastered CD version even adds two tracks. Now, little on Live is going to change your world. The versions of “The Leeshore” and “Déjà Vu” are great, and Crosby doesn’t hack up a lung or anything, so it has to be counted a success on some level. Still, you wonder how many people really came here salivating to see the pair sing “Fieldworker” or “Foolish Man.” The Crosby-Nash catalog isn’t exactly a gold mine waiting for rediscovery, after all. It was a business partnership, one that spared many of us from having to wade through six mediocre albums from Crosby and Nash individually instead of three collectively. If you’ve waded this far out, Live is something of a reward. The musical interplay is more interesting on stage than in the studio, and if the vocals aren’t, the Crosby-Nash vocal dynamic was never that magical to begin with. Out ending on a preposition.

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Graham Nash: Earth & Sky (1980)

I read on the Internet (and, hooray, it still sounds illegitimate!) that Graham had intended to keep the Crosby & Nash bicycle upright, but Crosby wasn’t up to it, so he went ahead and peddled Earth & Sky on his own. (I don’t know if Crosby had to pull out or something, but I’m sure I don’t want to think about it. Really, really sure.) His first “solo” album since Wild Tales (the C&N albums were half solo, or Han’s half-brother), Earth & Sky covers a pretty wide range: ballads, midtempo rockers, social stingers. It’s not a landmark album any more than the Crosby & Nash albums were, since for CS&N most roads pointed to the past (only Young kept moving forward). But it’s a professional, even sharp, session with some good material: “It’s All Right,” “Out on the Island,” “Magical Child.” Nash was usually good for a few songs on the CS&N albums; his tastes have always leaned toward treacly Anglophile pop, and I count on him for the sweet stuff. Nothing here is on the level of an “Our House,” and in fact I rarely walk away from this album humming anything. So I return to it periodically, suspecting my mild review guilty of softness, and walk away from it mildly charmed again. I’ve heard too many lousy solo albums from the Seventies (Chris Hillman, Jay Ferguson, Stephen Stills) to mistake the middle of the barrel with the black, gooey bottom. Earth & Sky is mead from the middle barrel, intoxicating for a short spell just like those Crosby & Nash albums. Songs for Beginners is still the place to start and then, well, you’ve probably got things to do. But Earth & Sky has a place in the world of CS&N alongside Wind on the Water, Whistling Down the Wire and the west of the woods cut from this interesting axis.

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Graham Nash: Songs For Survivors (2002)

Solo albums from Graham Nash and David Crosby are as infrequent as Haley’s Comet sightings these days, and no doubt many observers put their telescopes away after Innocent Eyes. It was something of a surprise then that Graham returned to the studio after CSN&Y’s Looking Forward to work on an album of new material. Released almost two years after the fact on independent Artemis Records, Songs For Survivors finds the UK contingent of CS&N alive and well. Pristinely recorded (the liner notes go to the trouble of listing each individual microphone) and produced with father-and-son Russell and Nathaniel Kunkel, Nash’s first new solo album in 16 years is a warm and well-crafted collection of original songs featuring acoustic guitar, harmonica and that seemingly ageless voice. The album is a nod to his past (Songs For Beginners), a tip of the hat to fallen comrades (George Harrison, Cass Elliott, Michael Hedges and writer Allan MacDougall) and a concession to the challenge of simply surviving in this mad, modern age. “The Chelsea Hotel,” “Lost Another One” and “Liar’s Nightmare” address those issues directly, while love songs fill the gaps. Also included is a cover of Richard and Linda Thompson’s “Pavanne” (from First Light), smartly done and smacking of woodsmoked folk. Nash was never the most politically pointed of CSN&Y, yet with age has come a certain amount of crustiness, evidenced by a barbed opening pair in “Dirty Little Secret” (about the 1921 Oklahoma race riots, I have no idea why) and “Blizzard of Lies” (drug abuse). Taking into account that “Nothing in the World” is a (probably unconscious) rewrite of The Beatles’ “Don’t Let Me Down,” Songs For Survivors shakes out to eight new tracks in 16 years; not enough to suggest a second wind. In fact, we’re still waiting for an encore. However, it’s a markedly better record than his last two, a graceful graying that shares the quality and integrity of recent CS&N albums like After The Storm and Looking Forward.

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