Legendary artist Graham Nash talks about the music, photography, Jacques Cousteau, Jesus and Beethoven

"I think that, in the future, human beings will become 'proto- humans', Human beings will slowly become 'Proto' for instance by including technology in their own bodies, chips inserted in their veins, so they don't have to use passwords to open the door is just the beginning."

Graham Nash: Eyes and Ears Artistry

Legendary artist Graham Nash, as a founding member of both the Hollies and Crosby, Stills and Nash, is a two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee who has seen rock history unfold at some of its seminal moments – from the launch of the British Invasion (that’s him on-screen in 1967, eyewitness to the Beatles global broadcast performance of “All You Need Is Love” from Abbey Road studios) to the birth of the Laurel Canyon movement a year later. An extraordinary Grammy Award winning renaissance artist – and self-described “simple man” – Nash was inducted twice into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, for his work with CSN and his work as a solo artist, beginning with two landmark albums, Songs For Beginners and Wild Tales. “Now” is the time for Graham Nash to release a new album, his first in seven years. The project arrives in full on May 19th, and along with the news, the legendary songwriter announced a new run of 2023 tour dates. Nash produced Now alongside his longtime touring keyboardist Todd Caldwell, and according to the artist, it’s his most personal album to date. “At this point in my life, that’s something to say,” Nash boasted in a statement. Now, which Nash describes as “the most personal album I’ve recorded.”

(Graham Nash / Photo © by Amy Grantham)

A photographer since the age of ten, Nash’s photos have been shown in galleries and museums worldwide. His company Nash Editions’ original IRIS 3047 digital printer and one of its first published works—Nash’s 1969 portrait of David Crosby— is now housed in the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian Institution. A collection of his photos is featured in the book A Life in Focus: The Photography of Graham Nash which was released in November 2021 by Insight Editions. Nash’s lifelong commitment to his work is unwavering. His inspiration is simple: “All the things we stood for, that love is better than hatred, that peace is better than war, that we have to take care of our fellow human beings, because that’s all we have on this planet – those things are still true today. I need to know that I’ve brought something into the world that was positive and not negative.”

Interview by Michael Limnios / Photos © by Amy Grantham (@woodstockings)

Special Thanks: Graham Nash & Raymond Foye

How has the “Counterculture” influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

I’ve always enjoyed observing the ‘counter-culture’. I saw that they were forever pushing the boundaries of the Status Quo, ever questioning the relevancy of that way of thinking. I understand that myself and most of my friends still believe in what the ‘Hippies” stood for, that peace was better than war and that love is greater than hatred and that we should take care of ourselves and our fellow man.

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in the music paths and life?

I’ve learned that gentleness is strength, that a good sense of humor will get you a long way down the path, that women are to be respected and encouraged with a real sense of love. I now know that no one is perfect but that we must try our best to find a positive solution to all problems.

What do you love most about the act of songwriting? Where does your creative drive come from?

Songwriting is a tiny heaven on this earth. To create something out of absolutely nothing is a small miracle. The feeling I have when I think I have a new song is indescribable. I never want to waste your time, so I only want to play you a song that I think is worthy of your time.                                         (Graham Nash / Photo © by Amy Grantham)

"I’ve learned that gentleness is strength, that a good sense of humor will get you a long way down the path, that women are to be respected and encouraged with a real sense of love. I now know that no one is perfect but that we must try our best to find a positive solution to all problems."

What touched you from the art of photography/painting? What's the balance in art between technique and soul/emotions?

Watching my father print some of the photographs that he had taken that day revealed to me the magic of photography. To witness an image appearing out of nowhere had a huge affect on me and so I’ve been a photographer longer than I’ve been a musician. I do believe that music and photography are connected in a way. To me, they are both similar frequencies and I have to decide which frequency to ‘plug’ into.

Which meetings have been the most important experiences for you? What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?

I once had a dinner with Jacques Cousteau and after the meal I asked Jacques what his greatest fear facing humanity was and he answered “The nuclear police”. I was shocked to my core. It was then that he described the nuclear power industry and how it works, and how we create nuclear waste every single day and yet we have nowhere to put it. He said that miners are being killed by Radon poisoning when digging the irradiated substance and that small villages risk tragedy if there was an accident when companies try to truck the waste through their town and that, of course, these substances remain radio-active for thousands of years.

I was visiting King Arthurs ‘Round Table” in a small church on my way to Winchester Cathedral. Standing just outside the front door was a man dressed in a tunic similar to the Beefeaters in the Tower of London, and in his hand, he held a small plate and said “Here you are”. I wasn’t sure I heard him correctly, so I asked him to repeat what he’d said. He looked at me and said “Don’t you know it’s just ok to be.” On his plate were pieces of bread and small beakers of water.

He told me that visitors to this small church were considered travelers and were given bread and water. I repeated what he’d said “It’s just ok to be.” Wise words indeed.

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of the past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

I don't miss anything about the music of the past. There's not much one can do about it really. I certainly hope that today’s music and the future of music will 'move' people’s hearts and minds, and soul.

"I don't ever want to waste your time so I will only play you a song or show you a photograph that deserves your attention and the use of your time. I believe that art is meant to reach your heart and change it for the better. The internet gives everybody a voice and that presents the problem when using your newfound voice. There are many people who spread misinformation and disinformation and that is really a problem.(Graham Nash / Photo © by Amy Grantham)

What moment changed your life the most? What do you think is key to a life well lived? Happiness is…

Getting to first play my guitar and realizing that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life was an incredible realization and it really changed my life. My parents were most supportive when they saw my passion for making music. I believe that being satisfied that, at last, I brought some peace to my listeners, and they knew that I tried to do my best. Happiness, to me, is knowing that my life was not in vain.

Skiffle (Donegan), Jazz (Barber), Blues (Korner/Cyril Davis), Pop Rock (Hollies, Beatles), … and beyond. What were the reasons that made the UK (early 1960s) to be the center of music researches and experiments?

After World War 2 was over there wasn't much that 15-year-old kids could do. Then Skiffle came to England with Lonnie Donegan and our world changed because we could play this new music if we had a cheap acoustic guitar and a set of thimbles on one hand to play a washboard and a crude bass. These young kids could form a band. We did and we were 'off and running'. Our brothers or cousins who went to America in the Merchant Navy brought records of rhythm and blues artists which we then copied and sold the music back to the states as the British Invasion.

What is the impact of music (and art’s general) on the socio-cultural implications?  How do you want the art to affect people?

I don't ever want to waste your time so I will only play you a song or show you a photograph that deserves your attention and the use of your time. I believe that art is meant to reach your heart and change it for the better. The internet gives everybody a voice and that presents the problem when using your newfound voice. There are many people who spread misinformation and disinformation and that is really a problem.

"I once had a dinner with Jacques Cousteau and after the meal I asked Jacques what his greatest fear facing humanity was and he answered “The nuclear police”. I was shocked to my core. It was then that he described the nuclear power industry and how it works, and how we create nuclear waste every single day and yet we have nowhere to put it. He said that miners are being killed by Radon poisoning when digging the irradiated substance and that small villages risk tragedy if there was an accident when companies try to truck the waste through their town and that, of course, these substances remain radio-active for thousands of years.(Graham Nash / Photo © by Amy Grantham)

John Coltrane said, "My music is the spiritual expression of what I am...". How do you understand the spirit, Art, and the meaning of life?

I completely agree with Coltrane. My music comes from my spirit which resides within me. The meaning of life, to me, is to do my very best with everything I do, to bring a positive message to all, and to enjoy what you do.

In your opinion, what is the biggest revolution which can be realized today? What do you think the major changes will be in near or far future of the world?

I think that, in the future, human beings will become 'proto- humans', Human beings will slowly become 'Proto' for instance by including technology in their own bodies, chips inserted in their veins, so they don't have to use passwords to open the door is just the beginning.

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really want to go for a whole day?

Two places. One, being a witness to the crucifixion of Jesus and two, when Beethoven performed his fifth symphony, and even though he was somewhat deaf he had to be turned around the see the reaction of hundreds of people going crazy for having heard a brilliant piece of music.

Graham Nash - Home

(Graham Nash / Photo © by Amy Grantham)

Interview by Michael Limnios / Photos © by Amy Grantham (@woodstockings)

Special Thanks: Graham Nash & Raymond Foye

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