Graham Nash: Over the Years
It’s always instructive to have a window opened into a songwriter’s process—at their best, composers’ demos can spark new understandings or even a complete reevaluation of a longfamiliar song. Fortunately, Graham Nash’s demos have been carefully stored away and now many of them, including a dozen of previously unreleased tracks, have been gathered together, juxtaposed against a disc’s worth of Nash’s most treasured tunes. Because they are so familiar, most longtime fans will have the tracks on disc one embedded permanently in the skull: officially released tunes by CSN, CSNY, Crosby-Nash and Nash solo. As a tidy greatest-hits collection, you can’t do better, but that’s not the big story here. The news begins with track one on disc two, Nash’s demo for “Marrakesh Express,” recorded solo with only acoustic guitar accompaniment in London in 1968. It’s this very demo, rejected by The Hollies, that caused Nash to leave the group—and England—and take off for LA, and hearing it now only makes one wonder what The Hollies were thinking. Both “Pre-Road Downs” and “Teach Your Children,” cut a year later, also by Nash sans other musicians, are fascinating in their nakedness, albeit admittedly begging for the embellishment they would soon receive. “Our House,” with Nash playing piano, projects the same intimacy as the finished version and is quite moving in its simplicity. Several later songs, among them “Just a Song Before I Go” and “Wasted on the Way,” reveal that Nash hadn’t adjusted his approach all that much—he still preferred to lay out his own interpretations with minimal outside help before allowing a song to blossom in the studio with the valued contributions of friends.