BWW Reviews: WILD TALES - A Rock and Roll Life
Graham Nash, Music, Wild Tales
In the interest of full disclosure, I've been a Graham Nash fan since Nixon was president; maybe even Johnson, if you include his first band, the Hollies. But then, he was just one of a group. It wasn't until 1969 when - in my mind at least - he became an individual musician/songwriter. That was when the stars aligned to create one of the first rock supergroups: Crosby, Stills, Nash and (sometimes) Young.
Wild Tales: A Rock & Roll Life is Nash's travelogue of his life, and oh, baby, what a life it's been so far.
Beginning with his more-than-humble beginnings in Manchester, England, even die-hard fans may be surprised to learn of the events that shaped the man who would become a rock star: the tragedy of his father's life, his mother's abandonment of her own performing dreams, the sad inevitability of life in his neighborhood. It wasn't until he offered a seat to the new boy in school - Allan Clarke, with whom he would found the Hollies - that his love of music took hold of him, giving him a way out of the life that had stifled his parents.
As with many memoirs by rock and roll stars, there is no shortage of sex and drugs. Nash is one of the lucky ones because he was able to stop his cocaine use before it destroyed him. By then he'd seen too many friends - Hendrix, Cass Elliot, and nearly David Crosby - leave us too soon. You could call it name-dropping when he mentions the unknown guitarist that Little Richard screamed at (Jimi Hendrix) or that Paul Simon invited him to sit in on a recording session with Art Garfunkel. But the 60s especially were a magical time to be part of what was really a small community of artists who were reinventing music.
Nash is not one to burn bridges, though he is the first to admit that the way he left the Hollies was awkward at best. His passion for music and photography and social justice issues is not just obvious but admirable. He has the courage of his convictions, and lives them every day. That's why you see him with his friends as headliners at benefit concerts around the world, including an impromptu performance at Occupy Wall Street's encampment at Zuccotti Park. Remember, this is the group that brought you "Chicago" and "Ohio".
One might say it was an accident of fate in 1969 that brought him together with David Crosby, Stephen Stills, and, with some reluctance on Nash's part, Neil Young. Four talented, opinionated, strong personalities could hardly be expected to get along well all the time. And they don't.