Graham Nash brings 'songs and stories' to Montclair
The veteran singer-songwriter will share the tales behind some of his best-known songs.
Fontayne, 63, produced Nash’s 2016 album, “This Path Tonight.” Nash says they work so well together “‘cause I don’t have to tell him what to do. It’s an incredible thing for a musician to say. You’ve got to understand, this guy saw the Hollies when he was 10 years old, at the Finsbury Park Empire [a London theater], and he wanted to become a musician. So, in a way, he goes back a long way with me, though I have only known him for 10 years."
Nash also has shows scheduled for Ocean City on July 24 and West Long Branch on Sept. 23. There are no Crosby, Stills & Nash projects on the horizon, but the group does have a big anniversary looming: Nash first sang with Stephen Stills and David Crosby in California, in 1968.
“The thing that saved my life, basically, was hearing me and David and Stephen sing,” says Nash. “I was still in the Hollies. I had come to visit my girlfriend, Joni Mitchell, for four or five days and David and Stephen were there. And David said, ‘Hey, Stephen, play Willy (Nash’s nickname) that song that we were just doing’ … he and Stephen were trying to figure out if they could do a duo thing. And then I came along.”
The rich vocal blend the three were able to create was very different from what the Hollies or Crosby’s and Stills’ prior bands (the Byrds and Buffalo Springfield, respectively) were able to do. “I knew, having heard that … that I would have to leave my band, leave my country, leave everything, and come to America and follow that sound, which is what I did,” Nash says.
Currently, interpersonal problems are keeping CSN or CSNY (the iteration of the band featuring Neil Young) from reuniting. “I’m completely pissed at Crosby now, and so is Neil,” Nash says. “He said terrible things about Neil’s girlfriend, and he’s treated me abysmally in the last couple of years.
But Nash says a reunion is still possible, particularly since the group has always had a strong political element, and the times seem to call for political music.
“I think our dislike of each other pales in comparison to the dislike of the Trump administration,” he says. “If the songs were there, I’d be out there in a second, because I’m a musician, and I need to communicate.
Who knows. I had breakfast a week ago with Neil. He, right now, is astounded. He said, ‘Hey, we got rid of Nixon because he lied once. What are we gonna do with this guy?’ So I’m not closing any doors.”
There is also, of course, a strong political element to Nash’s own shows
“I’m still doing ‘Chicago,’” he says, referring to his song inspired by the tumultuous 1968 Democratic National Convention. “I’m still doing ‘Military Madness.’ I’m still doing ‘Immigration Man.’
“Even though it’s a compliment that the recognition of those songs has been so strong over the years, it’s a drag to have to keep singing ‘Military Madness.’ I wrote that about my father going off to World War II, for God’s sake.”
WHO: Graham Nash
WHERE AND WHEN: Wellmont Theater, 5 Seymour St., Montclair, July 14 at 7 p.m.; Ocean City Music Pier, July 24 at 7 p.m.; 800-745-3000, ticketmaster.com. Pollak Theatre at Monmouth University, West Long Branch, Sept. 23 at 8 p.m.; 732-263-6889, monmouth.edu/arts.
HOW MUCH: $40.50-$100.50 for Montclair, $49-$59 for Ocean City, $46-$76 for West Long Branch.