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The satisfaction of being Crosby, Stills & Nash
Author: Nick Logan
Publication: New Musical Express
Date: January 10 1970

 

HAD I interviewed any of the Hollies this year Graham Nash wanted to know. “Yes. Tony Hicks.” “How did you get on?” “Quite well I thought: I liked him.” “You should, they’re nice people.”

He said he’s been to see Tony the day before. It was a bit strange at first, like walking on thin ice, but once we realised we are the same two Northern lads who came down from Stockport everything was okay.

A year since it was not so much formed as drifted together above a Chinese laundry in London’s Moscow Road the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young Group — now swollen to six with bassist Greg Reeves and drummer Dallas Taylor – is back in the town of its birth. Tuesday saw their first, and only, British Concert before a sell out audience at the Albert Hall.

They’d logged up three days in London when I saw them on Friday and were encamped in five flats above a shop near South Kensington tube.

Prop task

I’d recognised Dave Crosby in the street outside – could it be anyone but him behind that so perfectly trimmed moustache that it looks like a prop from a joke Western? – and he led me up to a living room all a-buzz with activity.

Steve Stills, the fair-haired Buffalo Springfield whose birthday was the following day, Saturday, sat the floor proclaiming: “England is the most advanced, cultured country in the world – yet it’s so far behind it’s frightening.”

Said Graham Nash, taking a place on the settee: “Every level of my life at the moment is very good and satisfying. The musical level, the financial level – which is important to allow me to pursue the music – and the private level too.

The dapper Mr Crosby expressed a desire for the lady journalist present rather than me, and Graham and I left the seated, talking group for the quieter end of the room.

I hadn’t met Graham before, but I was struck by the difference between the one I remembered from television images and photographs during Hollies days.

He was much slighter than I expected; his face more gaunt and his hair lighter possibly due to the sun of his new Californian home.

“Do I miss England? Yes, a great deal. There is a beautiful atmosphere in England. I have got a bit paranoiac about the police in Los Angeles. Here they are wonderful – I was very upset about the two that got shot in Glasgow.

Living in America, he says, has made him more aware of the social ills of the world because the States seems to be a focal point for what is going down. The situation is right out on the streets there.

“I used to be really naive about that sort of thing. I wasn’t used to watching every passing police car wondering if they were going to stop me; or having the threat of police pulling you out of your bed. All that shocked me; it straightened me out.”

But although it’s shaken his head, America has failed to penetrate Nash’s Northern accent nor according to Dallas Taylor when he came over to join us, his English sense of humour.

“He has certainly brought some humour into the band,” offered Dallas. The lighter parts of the album are all his .There is not much humour going down in the States among Americans these days.”

The humour strain aside, Graham also fills a role as the group’s diplomat – valuable carry over from his days as a Hollie.

Coolest

Says Dave Crosby: “Graham is probably the coolest of all of us and he’s dapper and debonair and extremely intelligent … and he fights for us very well. He is able to deal with any level up to an including royalty – which he has done.”

“My musical training,” says Graham, is from a different heritage from the others. The effect is to give the group a much wider scope in which to work.

“When we did the album the others had never worked with an Englishman before. I record in a different way to them but they were willing to listen and watch and I was willing to do the same for them. There is a great openness within the group.

Greg Reeves and Neil Young, a tall talented Canadian with straight black hair and features that suggest Red Indian blood, are recent additions to the group since the first album.

Why? Because we had a lot of electric music we wanted to play on stage so we found two more brothers,” said Graham.

Further talk on those lines was curtailed by Dave Crosby’s attention-snatching imitation of a US cop, illustrating a point he was making.

Old lady

“Dave’s really rapping hard today,” said Graham to Neil as their partner slipped into the guise of an old lady launching a tirade against long hair.

“Dave’s got this thing about the Beatles at the moment,” Graham continued. “He really wants to see the Beatles performing live again. So at every opportunity he really lays into them and says what a lousy group they are hoping it will pressure them into playing again.”

He got up to take a phone call calling back enthusiastically: “Hey we might be doing a gig in Manchester. Wouldn’t that be great?”

I’d had the impression that CSN and Y had been working pretty solidly in the States since their formation but I was assured this wasn’t so and in fact they’d done only 15 or so gigs in all.

“It isn’t necessary,” explained Graham on his return, “because it is impossible for everybody to see us – that’s why we make albums.”

To date their recording score is just the one album but when they left LA they were within four days of completing their second. Title is “Deja Vu” which roughly means a feeling of having been somewhere or done something before.

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