Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Graham Nash - Wild Tales: A Rock & Roll Life

Graham Nash - Wild Tales: A Rock & Roll Life
Antonio G. Pereira © 2013 Antonio G. Pereira

        Graham Nash - Wild Tales: A Rock & Roll Life Published by Crown Archetype/Random House New York
Much as I like Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young (and I consider the first two albums, 'Crosby Stills and Nash' and 'Deja Vu' to be '60s classics {Along with Crosby's, 'If I Could Only Remember My Name', Still's first (and his masterpiece), 'Stephen Stills', Nash's 'Songs For Beginners', and Young's (before he started getting sloppy in the mid-'70s), 'Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere'-with the original Crazy Horse, 'After The Gold Rush', and 'Harvest'}), I'm a little disappointed with this book. On the positive side, Graham Nash's recounting of his early life in the North of England, his family, and especially the career of the Hollies, are very informative, detailed and make compelling reading. However, when we get to CSN (Go to The Internet Archive:  Type in Click Take Me Back Then choose 2004) and in particular CSNY (Go to The Internet Archive:  Type in and Click Take Me Back), the story begins to get patchy. By now, having read accounts in Bill Graham's autobiography, 'Bill Graham Presents' (in which CSNY by 1970, are described as a bunch of egomaniacs out of their depth singing off key, perpetually stoned), there appears to be some gaping holes in Nash's memory. Most glaring in this respect, (having read Neil Young's biography 'Shakey'), is the subject of Greg Reeves. (I wonder what type of account Reeves would write if he ever decided to write a memoir?  Go to the Internet Archive:  Type into the Wayback Machine, then choose 2016 ) The best live in concert footage that exists of the original lineup is from 1969, in the film, 'Celebration At Big Sur'. (Go to The Internet Archive:  Type in Click Take Me Back Then choose 2004) It would be  great to see the entire CSNY set, where you hear and see CSNY with Reeves and Dallas Taylor, tearing up the stage. {By the way, you can catch a glimpse of Lillian Roxon, author of the original 'Rock Encyclopedia', being interviewed in this film.} CSNY were always engaging politically (Just like Jimi Hendrix circa 1969/1970 - listen to what Hendrix says between songs, where you hear him say what he's thinking, in the unedited Bootleg versions of The Band Of Gypsys concerts at Fillmore East, and the L.A.Forum 1970, Jim Morrison in quite a few surprisingly candid and observant interviews, The Impressions, Nina Simone, Eric Burdon, Janis Joplin {Sometimes forgotten is that Janis Joplin was a former Teacher, highly intelligent and very well-read. What was happening on American College Campuses in 1970 (e.g. Kent and Jackson State) deeply upset her, and she said so.}, John Lennon (obviously), Sly and The Family Stone, The Jefferson Airplane, Phil Ochs, and the musicians of the emerging Post-Coltrane New Music from the same era, to name a few), and to give Nash his due, he does not mince words in this autobiography; additionally, when he quotes Joni Mitchell on page 180, in a political argument they had during the winter 1969 CSNY/Mitchell European Tour, she sounds quite mealymouthed and puerile {And this coming from someone who has held Ms. Mitchell's songs in such high esteem as to have quoted 'The Circle Game' near the end of his senior evaluation in college. - Y'know in  retrospect I wonder what Mitchell, and others who at the time held her position (and from a completely different perspective and perceptive stance than hers, Elvis Presley and the characters who hung around him), thought when they saw tricky dicky end up resigning and his cohorts doing jail time, and ending up with criminal records; as well as Clyde Tolson (after his partner J. Edgar Hoover croaked) shredding documents (that would have eventually become key evidence in the scale of this monstosity) like nobody's business}. This is a highly readable book, as Graham Nash is a very good writer, and the first half of the book concerning the rise and fall (and rise?) of his relationship with the Hollies is very good reading. He mentions having been invited by Paul McCartney to participate in the Beatles live Worldwide Satellite Broadcast of 'All You Need Is Love' from Abbey Road Studios, but strangely makes no mention of having sung background vocals on Hendrix' wild and very enjoyable psychedelic aural sound painting 'You Got Me Floatin'', off the Experience's second album, Axis Bold As Love. The seeds of CSN (of which Cass Elliot was an integral part), the formation of the trio with the key background participation and help of Ahmet Ertegun at Atlantic Records, and resultant recording of the first album, are related in a painstaking and meticulous manner. However, the CSNY recounting needs more work on Nash's part and much deeper reflection. (Go to The Internet Archive:  Type in and Click Take Me Back, Type in Click Take Me Back Then choose 2005 and click Articles on Homepage, for reviews of 1974 tour etc...) His work outside of music, in the fields of Photography (a lifelong interest that started with his father) and Art (Painting and Sculpting), are of great interest, especially for people who may not know that side of him. There are a nice selection of photographs throughout the book that represent every period of his life, but I think there should have been more. Ah well... Worth a look.