4/2/12 - graham nash loses his confidence

In today's excerpt - in 1968, musician Graham Nash was a member of the highly successful Hollies. Depressed and questioning his own ability as an artist because his bandmates were rejecting his new direction in songwriting, he was saved by a chance meeting in Laurel Canyon, Los Angeles with Stephen Stills and David Crosby. Laurel Canyon, the rambling, secluded suburb near the recording studios and music clubs of Sunset Boulevard had become the epicenter of West Coast jazz, folk, rock and blues. Laurel Canyon denizens and frequent guests included Jim Morrison, Joni Mitchell, Carole King, John Phillips, Alice Cooper, Wayne Shorter, Cher, Glen Campbell, Bobby Womack, and Dusty Springfield to name just a few. Stills had just suffered the disintegration of Buffalo Springfield and David Crosby had left the Byrds over artistic differences. Their chance meeting led almost immediately to a smash hit; the epochal self-titled debut album Crosby, Stills & Nash:

" 'What happened,' Graham explains ... 'was that I'd written this song, "King Midas in Reverse," probably one of my earliest real songs. You know, I'm talking about myself. I'm talking about what I think about my life, and how fragile it all is. I mean every Hollies song that we made went into the Top Ten. "King Midas" didn't. And, at that point, [the other members of the Hollies] started to lose their faith in the direction that I wanted to take the band.

" 'I gotta tell you, I spent the first ten years in America kind of trying to separate myself from The Hollies. In all truth, The Hollies were a great band." In addition, The Hollies had passed on recording Nash's songs 'Teach Your Children,' 'Lady of the Island,' 'Marrakesh Express,' and 'The Sleep Song.'
'A lot of people used to say to me, "You're leaving the bloody Hollies? Are you f**kin' crazy?" All those hit records, money, and that stuff. They had not heard what I had heard.

" 'I think that my time with The Hollies was done. And I knew that instinctively. That was a little tense. I left them on December 8, 1968. On December 10, I was in Los Angeles with David (Crosby) and Stephen (Stills). I ended up at Cass Elliot's house. Cass' house was kind of a central point for a huge amount of very bright and very colorful people. ...

" 'You gotta understand. David, Stephen, and I came from harmony bands. I mean we were harmony freaks. I've said before that CS&N never had any claim on any of the notes that we sang. It's just when that sound happened, it was instantly recognized by me, David, and Stephen as something stunning.

" 'Crosby was so f**king American—American attitudes, American ego,' exclaims Nash. 'And Stephen was the same. I must say I was completely bowled over. I admire Stephen and love him dearly, but Crosby is a different animal on this planet. And I recognized it from the very first moment I ever met him. Which, of course, was through Cass. I was with two real Yanks. I was with two Americans of doom.'

" Graham's new moral support group was led by David Crosby. 'In a way, and I've said this before, he saved my arse. He saved my life. When I was in The Hollies and writing "Teach Your Children" and "Marrakesh Express" and they didn't want to deal with them, you know, it made me question myself, and that's the worst thing you can do to an artist. And so Crosby is looking at me with that impish smile, "They're f**ked, man. Don't even listen to what they are saying. I love those songs."

" 'I will never be able to repay David for what he did when The Hollies were refusing my material and I was incredibly depressed about it. By appreciating the music that they didn't want to record, I mean, Crosby has been there for me at the very beginning. When I first came to America, I didn't bring any money. It was months before my money from my bank account and The Hollies made it through all the financial scenes of being transferred to a different country. I borrowed $80,000 from Crosby and he never batted an eyelid.

" 'We knew that we had fabulous songs. ... CS&N had no formal rehearsals before they went into the studio to cut their epochal self-titled debut album. 'Our rehearsals consisted of running through the tune, and then saying, "F**k it, let's go to (Peter) Fonda's house." "F**k it, let's go to Paul Rothchild's house." "Let's go to Alan Pariser's house." "Let's go and sing them this s**t!" Eventually we could sing that entire album on a couple of acoustic guitars and blow people's f**kin' minds.' "


Harvey Kubernik


Canyon of Dreams: The Magic and the Music of Laurel Canyon


Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.


Copyright 2009 by Harvey Kubernik and LightSpeed Publishing, Inc.


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