Archive for David Crosby

GRAHAM NASH: THE ROADS TAKEN

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 14, 2016 by midliferocker

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A two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Famer takes us down yet another extraordinary path.

By Steve Houk

“Where are we going?

Those four simple yet provocative words, set on top of a soft, pulsating yet haunting beat, begin Graham Nash‘s exceptional and most recent album, This Path Tonight. And like the bulk of Nash’s music since the early 60’s, the words, and the album, resonate deeply. Why? Because it’s a question most of us ask ourselves all the time: Where are we going? Is this the right path? Am I going to make it?

For Nash, who turns 75 this month, it’s been an incredible life full of a myriad of different paths taken, musically, and in his personal life as well, which has been tumultuous of late to say the least. But his music is what always helps him navigate the journey, it helps him to gain perspective, as he tries to find his next path.

“Everything’s going well, I’m about to start touring again,” the kind and affable Nash told me as he prepared to hit the road. “But recently I divorced my wife of many many years, and fell in love with a beautiful lady artist from New York City, and this record is my emotional journey through my life right now. And it is indeed why I started [the record] with a question…where are we going?”

For over 50 years, Graham Nash has taken us down his many paths with him, whether it be with his first band The Hollies, or with his famous quartet and then trio, or by himself on his solo forays. And his latest effort is no exception, it seems to have affected people more profoundly than ever, giving them a voice that reflects what they’re going through as well, especially in their middle to later years.

“It really does seem that I have managed to touch people’s hearts,” Nash said softly. “Alot of people are responding to this in a very emotional way. I seem to have touched a nerve here, in alot of people. And This Path Tonight is showing how I dealt with my circumstances, and doing it hopefully so that it helped other people.”

Nash’s music has always been reflective and thoughtful, whether addressing matters of the heart, or as an activist and social conscience. And he’s wanted to touch people deeply since the very beginning.

“When I first heard the Everly Brothers‘ ‘Bye Bye Love’ when I was about fifteen years old, their music affected me very deeply.,” Nash reflected. “And I’ve always wanted to make music that affected people the same way. I don’t want to waste your time. Time is our only true currency. That’s all we’ve got. Time and our family and friends. So we have to take care of ourselves, we have to utilize every second the best way we can.”

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For this tour, which stops at The Birchmere in Alexandria on July 21st, Nash has once again brought along only his current collaborator Shane Fontayne on guitar, a gifted longtime musician in his own right and co-producer of This Path Tonight. Fontayne, 20 years Nash’s junior, has been a staple in Nash’s musical life for a while now, and helps bring Nash’s glorious music, both his old classics and newer tunes, to grand life in a powerful way.

“He’s a great listener,” Nash said. “About six years ago, (David) Crosby and I were singing at a show with our friend Marc Cohn, and Shane was Marc’s lead guitar player, and obviously very good. Crosby and I were supposed to go to Europe like two or three weeks later, but our lead guitar player Dean Parks couldn’t go. So we asked Shane if he could learn the songs, and he learned about 35 songs in a week. Plus…he’s English.”

As other paths in Nash’s life continue on, one that seems to have finally come to an end is the one with his legendary bandmates C S and Y. But even as he bids farewell to that amazing chapter, he can still see past the acrimony to recognize just what a great band he and his uber-talented buddies created.

“That’s completely over. But I’m very proud of the work that I did, not only with The Hollies but with David and Stephen and Neil, too. I thought we were a great rock and roll band, that’s why I took so long to do the Crosby Stills Nash & Young box set from our 1974 stadium tour. I wanted people to realize just what a fine rock and roll band CSNY was.”

Graham Nash is still going strong, stronger than ever perhaps, and he is able to use not only his musical talents but his inner strength to forge ahead and make the very best out of what otherwise could be an uncertain road ahead. And it looks like his childhood amidst the shadow of war set him up for just that kind of survival.

“I’ve always had the ability to turn what looks like a problem into a solution. I think that my upbringing in England after World War II stood me in good stead for that, because we made it through World War II, we’re all still alive. Some of our friends aren’t, and some of the houses we used to love aren’t there anymore. But we’re all still alive, so let’s get on with life.

Graham Nash performs Thursday July 21st at The Birchmere, 3701 Mt Vernon Ave, Alexandria, VA 22305. For tickets, click here

 

 

 

 

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DAVID CROSBY: IT’S THE SONGS, MAN

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on June 16, 2015 by midliferocker

Croz Album photo - Credit Django Crosby

A rock and roll legend still has the spark that got him this far.

By Steve Houk

When you ask David Crosby just what he thinks separates the music that he’s done solo, or with those three other guys named S, N & Y, from the rest of the pack, it’s a no-brainer.

“It’s the songs, man. Everything is the songs,” an animated and engaging Crosby told me from his home in California, as he prepares for his summer solo tour. “That’s what really separates the men from the boys. You can take a mediocre song and do all the production you want on it, and you’re still just polishing an ‘excrescence.’ There’s a polite word. But look, I think that we’re good writers. In whichever combination, either three good writers or four good writers, it gives us a very wide pallet of colors to work from. And I think that’s why the couch album and ‘Deja Vu’ were so strong. There’s a very wide scope of material there that one person couldn’t have written. I think that gave us a huge advantage.”

As Crosby, 73, traverses through his 52nd year of creating music — still immersed in a career that has seen him enter the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice, for his work with The Byrds and CSN — right now, his gift is in full bloom. Coming off his critically acclaimed solo release “Croz” in 2014, his senses are sharp, and his seasoned instincts appear keen. His songwriting spark is in the now, not just the then, the songs are coming fast and furious, and a lesser man might not know what to do with such a rush. But David Crosby does. If anyone knows how to handle a rush, it’s Croz. Take it and go with it.

“I’ve always written in kind of bursts of activity over the years,” Crosby said with a twinkle in his voice. “I’ll write two, three things in a row and then a couple of months will pass by before I write another thing. I don’t know why that is, but I’ve been in now the longest most sustained burst of writing that I can remember in probably thirty years. I’m just amazed it’s going this long. I wrote two things this week. So I don’t know what to think. I feel very grateful, I don’t really understand it, but I guess I don’t have to understand it, I just have to work with it. I was stunned by the amount of material that’s coming my way and very grateful. And I’m smart enough to pay attention to it so that’s what I’ve been doing. I pick up the guitar every day several times, and try to work at it and it’s been working.”

(L-R) Jerry Garcia, David Crosby and Neil Young during recording of Crosby's 1971 solo record If I Could Only Remember My Name (photo courtesy Jim Marshall)

(L-R) Jerry Garcia, David Crosby, Phil Lesh and Neil Young during recording of Crosby’s 1971 solo record “If I Could Only Remember My Name” (photo courtesy Jim Marshall)

Although Crosby can be prolific in his songwriting, he has only released four true solo records, beginning with the stellar, star-studded “If I Could Only Remember My Name” in 1971. That record came at a devastating period in his life, when writing songs was the only thing that kept him going when nothing else could.

“That was a life saver, that record man, absolutely a life saver,” Crosby said with a clear remembrance. “I was going through a really rough period in my life there, my girlfriend had just gotten killed in a car wreck. I had no way to deal with it at all. I was in pretty bad emotional shape when we finished ‘Deja Vu’ and the only place I really felt comfortable was in the studio. So I just stayed in there. And that’s the record that happened. Jerry Garcia was a good friend of mine and came almost every night, some of the other guys, Phil Lesh, and Paul Kantner and Grace Slick and people from Santana and the Dead and the Airplane and other bands up there would come by. And sometimes Nash and Joni Mitchell. It was a rough time but that’s how I stayed alive, making that record.”

44 years after that album was released, and as the Dead celebrate their 50th anniversary this year, Crosby recalls his relationship with the band members with much fondness, relationships that continue even today.

“I was friends with all of them, and I’m still friends with Phil, we are buddies and have been for a long time and I’m sure we will be for a long time. I love ’em, they are a bunch of great guys, we would jam alot and spend time at Bob Weir’s place in Mill Valley which is right near my place and I would go over there when they were rehearsing, and just interfere and get in the way and pester them. Start jams right when they were trying to learn new tunes and stuff.”

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From 1971 to now is a long time, but Crosby has endured long enough to keep writing memorable music, including 2014’s “Croz,” a record he’s very happy with but thinks he can surpass, given his recent burst of writing energy, and that of some equally famous neighbors. “I have to say, that record’s a good record and I’m proud of it. I think we’ll beat it, I think the next one will be even better. The writing’s going really well, man, I just finished one song with Michael McDonald that’s kind of amazing. Oh, he’s a great writer that guy, man. Up here at my house and over at his house, he lives near me, and man, what a great guy to write with.”

Crosby will be back out there on stage with his longtime mates this fall for a CSN European swing — “Why do we do it? I guess we love it, that’s the answer” — but for now, on this upcoming solo swing, it’s just him and his guitar, naked out there. And that’s just how he wants it to be right now.

“It’s more challenging, it’s how I started out,” Crosby said. “One guy, one guitar. But it’s also a way that I can do one of the things I love the most, which is tell you the story of the song. The words really count, and if it’s just you and the guitar, you get to really actually make the words count. And they’re a big deal for me, poetry’s a big deal for me. A BIG deal to me. I love doing it this way, it’s much more challenging, and at this point in my life, challenging myself is a very healthy thing to do.”

And as always, when it comes right down to it, it’s all about…the songs.

“To carry it yourself, it has alot more to do with the song. If you got a whole band there, you can play something that’s only moderately good and get away with it. If it’s just you and the guitar, it has to be a really good song. That for me is crucial stuff. I really like that. I do have some good songs. It’s a different ball game than playing with the band, completely. Not everybody wants to do it and not everybody can do it. I do really love doing it.”

And will Crosby be pulling out any buried treasures from his legendary canon, any big surprises, on this short solo soiree?

“Oh definitely, but I’m not gonna tell ya,” he says, laughing. “You have to come to the show, man. I hope you do come, I think you’ll like it. If you like songs, you’ll love it.”

David Crosby performs Monday June 22nd at The Birchmere, 3701 Mt. Vernon Ave., Alexandria, VA. The show is sold out.