on 25 February 2014
I really wanted to like this book as I am from the same era, from the Manchester area and saw The Hollies several times and CSN, minus Y three times and have most of the c.d.s of all combinations of the above.
It's a very egocentric narrative. After a chapter, I got used to Nash's conversational style but his ego began to irritate. His timeline inaccuracies have been covered in other reviews but his darting around in the immediacy of his narrative was confusing, e.g. he finds a soul mate (several times) then, in the next sentence or paragraph, he'll be boasting about his sexual profligacy with numerous girls.
I mentioned the conversational style but his slang and colloquialisms are drawn from both the UK and USA and are often counterbalanced in the same sentence; this didn't help his often fulsome narrative.
I was in the USA, the same time that Nash was doing a 'book-signing' in Waterstone's Manchester. At £25 per copy, it seemed extreme. I bought my copy at a used book store in Minnesota and paid $13; I'm glad that I only paid so little.
Most of all, I wanted to read about The Hollies and their line-up(s) during Nash's time. The original drummer, Don Rathbone "left" - and that's it! Eric Haydock gets at least a sentence or two regarding his departure, Bernie Calvert barely gets more than a couple of fleeting mentions and I would have loved to have heard more about Clarke and Hicks really felt when Nash was on the point of splitting with them. It's a real shame, as this book had great potential which it didn't fulfil.
There are books about CSNY (including many references to them in the intriguing: 'Canyon of Dreams' by Harvey Kubernik - which has a focus on the whole Laurel Canyon time) but I can find nothing on The Hollies ... except the mid-sixties paperback: "The Hollies Tell You How to Run a Beat Group". If anyone knows of a Hollies biography, I'd love to hear about it.
on 13 December 2014
I’ve always liked CSN(Y) and I thought I would warm to Graham Nash as a writer – a down-to-earth Englishman working with three American weirdos, a voice of reason in the superficial world of the pop music business. Sadly, he comes across as rather full of himself, with frequent references to being a good looking, politically aware, thoughtful, creative, fun-loving, sensitive, caring, loyal, energetic, inspired, misunderstood, successful rock star, who also happens to be a great father, a successful entrepreneur, an advisor to Barack Obama and a saviour of our planet.
I was disappointed that Nash is so condescending about his Northern roots. His sentiment on returning to Manchester is to survey the poor, Lowrey-like people going about their business and think "there but for the grace of God go I." Oh dear, just imagine how awful it must be to live in Manchester, being ordinary!
Nash mixes revealing moments of honesty about his own shortcomings with a surprising lack of self-awareness. He mocks his rock star friends for throwing tantrums about trivial things, but he himself throws his toys out of the pram and leaves his record label in a huff when they have the audacity to put a barcode next to his album cover photograph. How dare they?
I read the book because I thought I might get a few interesting insights into a fascinating musical era. What I discovered was that lots of musicians took lots of drugs and had lots of sex. Sometimes they would spend a long time in the studio, going to bed very late at night and getting up very late the next day (you wouldn’t get away with that sort of thing in Manchester). That's pretty much it I think. Oh, and Altamont marked the end of the love and peace era – I hadn’t heard come across that observation before.
On the positive side, the snippets of life in Laurel Canyon are enjoyable, where the sheer joy of making music and meeting new people from a completely different culture comes across very well. I also loved his tribute to his mother late in the book – very poignant. The writing is chatty and it carries you along, although humour is in short supply. As I stuck with the book, I became slightly mesmerised by the self-important "Spinal Tapness" of the writing and by the uncomfortable but gripping story of Crosby’s decline.
Neil Young's book is more engrossing and multi-layered, even though he is even further up his own a**e. The main difference between the Youngs and Nashes of this world seems to be in their willingness to compromise. There are many examples of Nash compromising: doing tours for money, getting back together with Stills after the angry one has spat at him, let him down, embarrassed him and even destroyed his master tapes with a razor blade.
Young, on the other hand, is his own man – charismatic, single-minded, eccentric, hugely creative and about as uncompromising as you can get.
One wonders if the reason for the longevity of CSN is that none of the participants have enjoyed great success on their own, especially Nash - a classic case of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts.
Overall, not a bad read, but on this evidence you probably wouldn’t want to be stuck in a lift with Mr Nash.
on 13 October 2013
A very interesting book from Mr Nash. Certainly worth a tenner on Kindle Store.
I don't agree with much of his politics, or views on alternative energy etc., but I do think that Graham Nash is a decent human being in that he cares for his fellow man in the global sense.
Key points are largely covered well, although the split with the Hollies could do with another couple of pages. He never really explains his relationship with Allan Clarke between 1968 and 1983. Did they speak at all? Glad to see that all is well now though.
Throughout Nash is generous towards others and gives credit where credit's due (Allan and the rest of the Hollies, for example). He is often very honest about his own failings and dubious motivations, and some of his personal contradictions. This is refreshing, and makes the book a good, balanced read. There is a bit too much 'poor boy from Manchester made good' but it is sincerely felt, I think.
The big selling CSN(Y) albums are well-documented, but the lesser selling ones don't always make it. The important 1988 reunion, American Dream, is glossed over too quickly for my liking. How did Stephen Stills get to pollute that album with some real stinkers?
If you're a Neil Young fan, take note that he comes out of this book VERY badly! Nash portrays an immensely talented but totally, totally selfish man. And it's believable! For the most part, Nash is generous - and sometimes brutally honest - about all the characters here, but the final swipe at Neil Young on the last page is stinging and, I am sure, is what he really feels about him.
David Crosby is obviously a great, great friend, but Nash does not spare David's blushes in any way shape or form! A total mess for much of his life it seems, and not a pleasant person on the surface.
The OBE is a mystery for several reasons: Nash doesn't seem to know the person nominating him at all, which is odd. More importantly, Graham makes no attempt to explain why, as an American citizen of some 30 years AND a constant critic of the Establishment/Global Corporations/people in power generally, he would want to be honoured by the Queen in this way?! Instead, it's more 'imagine this poor boy from Manchester meeting the Queen!' sentiment.
So, all in all, Nash comes across as the decent human being you probably always suspected he was, despite his sometimes sermonising music. On paper, his worldview and politics are somehow less grating than on stage!
This is a good read for anyone interested in US/UK rock pop scene in the 1960s and 1970s.
One final warning: Strong language throughout (for no good reason I can think of!) He may be 71 but he's going on 12 on this evidence....why the publisher let it through is anyone's guess. It doesn't add anything: he can tell a good story without it.
on 25 March 2014
I enjoyed the first 75% of this book a lot, but the last 25% was a rushed affair of Grahams last 25 years. The book starts brilliantly with an in depth story of how it all began and covers the 60s and 70s in great detail. His relationships, his music and the drugs are well covered. However as we get into the 80s things began to get glossed over and there is not as much to read about. Many other books written by rock stars also tend to go this way so it's not the first time I have encountered this. The final few chapters cover his family life and how things are for him today.
I am a big fan of music from the 60s and 70s so as a whole this is a great read for me, however it is painfully obvious that music not only changed for us as listeners but the attitude from musicians also changed and gave us the music we hear today. The old guys are not the same as they were in the heyday of music, they have money, families to worry about.
on 7 May 2015
This is a very enjoyable and easy read and should appeal to all CSNY fans. The style is everyday and engaging, although perhaps too much use of the "f-word" for my taste. This book suffers from the same problems as many similar volumes in that it addresses some events/incidents in detail but skates over others or never mentions them at all. In this book there are several examples of contradictions and inconsistencies which I found hard to overlook. Additionally,too often, after describing a difficult gig or situation Graham states, "Somehow I/we managed to ........." So explanations are often not provided. This of course may be due to the copious amounts of drugs which CSN increasingly used as they became more successful. This also begs the usual question, namely, how accurate and credible are the "Wild Tales" described if the guys were all coked to the eyeballs, sometimes for days at a time ? At times I found this book to be just a bit too full of self-praise and self-congratulation, especially when relating how well a gig went. This aside, Graham has written an entertaining account of his life and I found it to be an engrossing read and one which I read very quickly. Considering his humble beginnings Graham has achieved and contributed a lot both as an artist and as a human being. His work for good causes is well documented and this book reveals the immense support he gave ( and continues to give ) to his partner in crime, David Crosby. Well worth purchasing if you can get it at a good price.
on 12 March 2014
I saw Graham Nash with the Hollies at the Gaumount Taunton in1964 and again at the Royal Albert Hall in 2013. The intervening 49 years are covered in this totally self indulgent, selective (you'll search in vain for any mention of Eric Haydock or Bernie Calvert, bass players with the Hollies, who were in fact present with Graham Nash and Allan Clarke at the Hall of Fame induction!) but nevertheless fascinating book. A legend in his own lifetime - as he keeps on telling us! But listen to his music and you can - almost - forgive him!
on 17 January 2014
Graham Nash is blessed with a fine harmony voice and wrote a few decent songs over a very long career. Reading this book it seems as though he was at the focal point of the counter culture a decade after Joan Baez, Pete Seeger etc were at their zenith and that he and his band mates were modern day Mozarts. Lots of bragging about drug use along with descibing the dehumanising effect it had on his best friend David Crosby as well as it's destroying of creativity.
It's an interesting read for those of us that grew up with music of this era. The creation of and his leaving of the Hollies is interesting as is the formation of CSN, and some of the gossip that he was party to is amusing. However it is all overshadowed by Graham Nash's overwhelming self importance and failure to accept that on his own he was not a popular artist compared to as part of his band. He is nowhere near as gifted as Stills or Neil Young but he happily claims to be and passes off the failure of a lot of his solo stuff as the public not being ready for it.
A little more self awareness would have come in nicely and made this a more interesting read.
on 17 September 2014
Mmmm. Can't quite make my mind up about this. As a 64 year old ( at the time of writing!! ) the 60's and early 70's really resonate with me musically. I wasn't, in the literal sense, a Hollies fan although they were a very talented group. Bought CSN'S first album, played it once and thought it very bland. Played it again a few days later and then played it solidly for weeks. Great album. However, I digress.
I particularly enjoyed the book from him going to live in America onwards and his insights into the whole music scene are enjoyable. I was especially interested about his relationship with Joni Mitchell, of which, Nash writes very well as he does of his friendship/ working relationships with David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Neil Young.
He comes across as a caring individual, never more so than talking about Crosby. And yet for me, he seems a little full of himself in an indefinable sense. His use of Americanisms grates a little, as does his use of "man" and "cat" although bearing in mind his American readership, that is largely understandable.
So, I've turned into my dad, with regard to phraseology, but as a personal viewpoint, this book is largely good but with some reservations.
on 2 January 2014
Reading these memoirs it struck me that it's bloody amazing any rock stars from the 1960s and '70s survived at all. They let cocaine / heroin take over their lives and ruin their health.
A lot of the book is about Graham Nash's life and times and that's what I expected, but that he chose to fill other pages with David Crosby's woes of drug addiction, ill health and accidental parenthood. I mean, there's a *lot* about how stupid David Crosby was, less so about Stephen Stills' problems. Graham Nash proclaims himself never an addict, despite getting through grams of cocaine like, well, a rock star of the 1960s and '70s. As to Neil Young, I think Nash must just be afraid of him as he gets off so lightly as to be almost as good as the author at dodging the drug charges.
For the most part this is an astonishingly frank memoir with some illustrations of his songwriting technique.
Well worth a read.
on 24 June 2014
Now Neil Young is an exceptional artist, David Crosby was great in the Byrds,(his harmony on 5D is breathtaking) Stephen Stills i can live with out and Graham Nash, well i can recall his halcyon days as a pop star with the Hollies and they did make some good pop records but as a serious rock performer i could list hundreds of performers with more talent, particularly in respect of songwriting skills. However we're looking at his memoir here , which should be entertaining as hes been around some interesting situations and by and large it is, but as other reviewers have said this cat is carrying around a massive ego about his own importance and its annoying to the point it distracts from the book. Therefore in truth its difficult to make gold star recommendations to read it, so i wont!