Graham Nash on music, reunions and a strange bathroom edict
Like so many, national arts reporter Geoff Edgers has been grounded by the coronavirus. So he decided to launch an Instagram Live show from his barn in Concord, Mass.
Every Friday afternoon, Edgers hosts an hour-long interview show he calls "Stuck With Geoff." So far, that has included comedian Tiffany Haddish, television journalist Katie Couric, basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Nye "The Science Guy." Recently, Edgers chatted with musician Graham Nash. Here are a few excerpts from their conversation.
Q: I was telling my son, who's 10, that your 1971 song "Chicago" (on Nash's solo debut album, "Songs for Beginners") was about Bobby Seale and the Chicago Eight.
A: I had just come to live in the United States in December 1968. My friend Wavy Gravy, whose real name is Hugh Romney, was a comedian in the Village in the late '50s and early '60s. He called me and said that these kids had been busted in Chicago for disrupting the Democratic National Convention and could Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young do a show in Chicago to raise money for their defense fund. Obviously, we wanted to do it. I could do it. Crosby could do it. But Stephen and Neil's calendar was totally full. So I wrote "Chicago" out of my frustration and my support for people who don't have a voice and people who are subjected to the judicial process in this country, which is sadly lacking.
Q: Someone will ask, "Why don't Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young do a big fundraiser for Biden or play at a protest?" I think you're going to say that will never happen.
A: You're not correct. I can't say that it would never happen again, but it's certainly not happening now. We have to really like each other to able to make music together. We have to love each other. And it's just not happening right now. Who knows in the future? I mean, we've been at this place several times in the last 50 years. But I will never say no, you know. But right now, it's definitely not happening.
Q: I feel like you are the glue, the person who always tries to make peace and bring people together. And if you're not up for that, a reunion would be hard to do.
A: That's pretty accurate. I love the music that we make. It's a part of my sadness right now. It's the music that I miss. But, you know, if we never sing another note together, look what we did in 50 years. Not bad.
Q: Do you talk to Stephen Stills, whom we saw at the Democratic National Convention? He looks pretty good. He looks ready to go.
A: Stephen's a little difficult to talk to because of his hearing. He doesn't like phones. He's a text guy. So that's how I contact him. We text each other.
Q: And Neil Young, do you ever talk to him?
A: Yes, I do.
Q: But you haven't talked to David Crosby for years?
A: Not quite. You know, I emailed him my condolences when his son with (Melissa Etheridge) died of an overdose, you know. My ex-wife, Susan, died (recently), and Neil and David sent me a nice message.
Q: I'm very sorry to hear that. With everything that's going on, that must be really hard.
A: I know. But you know what? I'm so pleased to be an American citizen. I'm very proud to be here. I'm very proud to be a musician. And I will deal with my life with the best humor and dignity I can. You know, I recently started Transcendental Meditation as a gift from (director) David Lynch. He paid for me and my wife, Amy, to learn T.M. And quite frankly, I'm 78 years old, and I wish I'd had been doing it for 50 years.
Q: I recently saw that all your concert dates that had been canceled are now rescheduled for April. Is that a real thing?
A: It's as real as we can make it. We have to make arrangements. I personally think it's all going to be postponed once again. I believe that the virus will make an appearance in the fall, which will make the beginning of it all look like a tea party. We should have shut the entire bloody country down for two months. We have to get on top of this. If we don't, the economy won't come back.
Q: Do you go out?
A: I do what everybody else does. I go out when I need food, and I go out when I need meds. And I go out to my favorite tree with my wife and say hello. We've stayed basically in this apartment for 10 months. We're trying to obey the new rules, but not everybody does. And it takes only one person to spread this virus. A lot of people say, "Well, I'm not going to let the government tell me my human rights here." But that's not what this is about. This is about you not dying. Wear a mask so you don't die and so the people you're with don't die.
Q: Are you going to reissue "Déjà Vu" or any of your other solo albums?
A: "Déjà Vu"' comes out in about two months and it will be a five- or six-CD set. It will have a lot of stuff that people have never heard before. We found that the master tapes that we made of "Déjà Vu" are still fresh.
Q: I also want to ask you about Van Morrison. He's got a whole song demanding we stop the pandemic lockdown.
A: I love his music. I love his voice. I just can't stand him as a person.
Q: When I listen to Van Morrison, I'm not exactly sure what he's talking about. It feels spiritual.
A: Let's not get spiritual. Let's talk about peeing: One bathroom in a club and there's a notice on the bathroom, "This can only be used by Van Morrison."
Q: Really. When was that?
A: Two years ago in Sweden.
Q: Two years ago? I thought it was like at a small gig in 1964. Two years ago. You're Graham Nash, for God's sakes.
A: Yeah. But he's Van Morrison. For God's sake.