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After 5 Decades, Graham Nash Still Loves Rock And Roll

At 72, Graham Nash remains part of rock royalty, a musician who came to the U.S. as part of the British invasion with his band The Hollies and plays on today with his super-group Crosby, Stills & Nash.

In his career, Nash has stood alongside The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Joni Mitchell and virtually the entire cast of characters who came to define rock ‘n’ roll of the 1960s and 70s. Along the way, he’s written songs that became the landscape for a generation.

Last year, Nash published a memoir detailing his experiences with his group Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. This week, he is in Kansas City as keynote speaker at Folk Alliance International's winter conference. 

HEAR MORE: Graham Nash speaks Feb. 20 at 6 p.m. at  Unity Temple on The Plaza, 707 W. 47th Street, Kansas City, Mo. Contact Rainy Day Books for ticket information.

Interview Highlights: Graham Nash

On previewing Neil Young's "Harvest" album:

"Well, I was at Neil's ranch one day and he said, 'Hey, Willie (a nickname for Graham Nash), you wanna hear my new record "Harvest"?'  And I said, 'Yeah, sure man. Let's go into the studio and hear it' y'know, because he has a fabulous studio. Oh no, this is Neil. 'Get into the rowboat, Willie'. . . he has a beautiful lake on his property, "We'll go out to the middle of the lake" ... So I'm rowing out into the middle of the lake with Neil and I'm thinking maybe he's got a cassette player and he wants me to listen to it with headphones or something, you know. Unh, unh, no. Remember, this is Neil.  He had his entire house as one speaker and his entire barn as the other speaker and he blasted "Harvest" out louder than hell to us in the middle of this lake in a rowboat.  After the album was done, we kind of rowed back and Elliot Mazer who produced "Harvest" . . . came down to the shoreline and said, "How was it, Neil?" And I swear to God, Neil looked at him and he shouted 'More barn!'" 

On Paul Simon's recommendation of the record "The Music of Bulgaria":

"It's the greatest harmony record I've ever heard in my life.  I've subsequently given away, literally, hundreds of that album to people that I think would enjoy it . . . In the early 90's I got a call from Elecktra Records ... they asked me if I wanted to come to New York ... because that choir of ladies that sang on that record were coming to New York and would I come to New York and introduce them to the press . . . I jumped on that opportunity ... After the press event the translator comes up to me and he goes, 'You know, the ladies would like to say something to you, Graham.' I'm expecting 'Thank you, Mr. Nash, for coming to New York to introduce us.'  And instead they gathered around me, one of them went 'one, two, three, four' and in perfect multi-harmony they sang "doo-doo-doo-doo doo -- do-do -- do-do-do-doo" . . . "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" to me."

On his enduring feelings for Joni Mitchell:

'"I love Joni to this day. I've been married to my wife Susan now for the last 37 years and Susan without question is the love of my life but I will always love Joni.  How could you not?  She's not only beautiful, but she's a genius and I love beautiful smart women."

On 50 years of creating and performing:

"I can afford not to go out and not play another note if I choose to.  But I'm a musician. I can't wait to play you the new song ... I can't wait for being  on the edge of sleep and having what Crosby refers to as the elves taking over the workshop which is where a lot of writing goes on ...'cause I'm constantly thinking about what to do and what to write and how to create ... This is an incredible life . . . and I'm 72 years old ... so in all reality how long can this go on?  But, I'm going to be writing songs and making music until they put me in my grave."
 

You can read the first chapter of Nash's book, Wild Tales: A Rock & Roll life here:

Steve Kraske is the host of KCUR's Up To Date. Follow him on Twitter @stevekraske.
After growing up on the east coast and spending his first professional years in classical music, Stephen moved to Kansas City in 1995 expecting to leave after a few years. (Clearly that didn't happen.) More than two decades and three kids later, he doesn't regret his decision to stick around. Stephen began his career in public radio as a classical music host. As the founding producer of Up to Date with Steve Kraske, he received a number of local and national awards for his work on the program. Since 2014 he's overseen KCUR's broadcast operations. When Stephen isn't at KCUR's studios, he's probably adding more stamps to his passport with his KU professor wife and their three kids. His son almost made him cry during a drive through the Rockies when he said at age 8: "Dad, can we listen to public radio?" Sniff sniff.
Julie Denesha is a freelance multimedia journalist based in Kansas City. Contact her at julie@kcur.org.