Listen To This Eddie is a weekly column that examines the important people and events in the classic rock canon and how they continue to impact the world of popular music.
It’s entirely fair to say that Graham Nash is one of the most prolific and successful songwriters of his generation. Whether as a member of the British Invasion band The Hollies, the folk-rock supergroup Crosby, Stills, Nash &Young, or as a solo artist, Nash is responsible for writing and recording some of the biggest and most impactful songs of the late 1960s and ’70s, among those include his paean to his onetime love Joni Mitchell, “Our House,” the top-10 hit, “Just A Song Before I Go,” as well as a bevy of socially conscious tracks like “Chicago,” and “Immigration Man.”
This year, Nash decided to collect all of his fan’s favorite songs together for the first time for a collection titled Over The Years. And if that weren’t enticing enough, he’s also gone back through his archives and pulled out a variety of early demos and live recordings of some of the same songs, which offer new insights into his own creative process, while stripping them down to their very base elements. The 1968 home recording of “Marrakesh Express,” is particularly revelatory.
Recently I had the chance to speak to Nash and get a little bit more insight about his most beloved musical compositions, while also getting an update about the status of his relationship these days with his estranged partner David Crosby.
What made you decide now to revisit some of your songs for this Over The Years compilation album?
I realized that there’s never been a so-called greatest hits of my music. Quite frankly, I wrote most of our [Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s] singles. I realized, obviously, if I put 15 of my fan’s favorite Graham Nash songs on an album, a lot of people had already bought them on CSN records, on our solo records; they would have already had a copy of that. So I thought, “How could I make it more interesting?” That’s when we decided to put demos on the album. I think people that love music, but don’t write it or are not in a band, or even if they are in a band, I think they’ll find it fascinating to hear my original expression of a song, and then listen to the actual record of those songs, particularly something like “Our House” or “Teach Your Children.” I did “Teach Your Children” on an acoustic guitar in my apartment in London and when you play that, and then you play the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young” version, you know, light bulbs are gonna go off in people’s brains.
That’s interesting. Now that I think about it you’re right, most of the Crosby, Stills, Nash &Young singles were your songs. How did you pull that trick?