Musician Graham Nash has been very vocal in the last two years about his anger with bandmate David Crosby over a series of personal clashes, so much so that fans of 1960s supergroup Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young had all but given up hope of a reunion. However, Nash now says that an even greater disdain for President Donald Trump and the current administration could change that.
“Here’s how I feel about it: I believe that the issues that are keeping us apart pale in comparison to the good that we can do if we get out there and start talking about what’s happening,” Nash says of a possible CSNY reunion. “So I’d be totally up for it even though I’m not talking to David and neither is Neil. But I think that we’re smart people in the end and I think we realize the good that we can do.”
Indeed, the group known for such politically provocative songs as “Ohio” (a response to the 1970 shootings of students protesting the Vietnam War at Kent State University) and, more recently, “Almost Gone (The Ballad of Bradley Manning)” (addressing U.S. soldier Chelsea Manning’s trial for espionage in 2013), have long been a powerful voice for change in popular culture.
Nash had previously ruled out any reunion, making his feud with his longtime bandmate very public. In a 2016 interview with Dutch magazine Lust For Life, Nash said Crosby “has been just f—ing awful,” adding, “I’ve been there and saved his f—ing ass for 45 years, and he treated me like shit. … David has ripped the heart out of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.”
But Nash, who released an acclaimed solo album, “This Path Tonight,” last year, will do whatever it takes to fight the Trump administration. And after decades of activism, the 75-year-old offers some tips on how musicians and activists can sustain their strength for the next four years.
“You have to keep up your will to fight,” he says. “You have to research your subject matter so that when people ask you about them you have good answers, true answers, you need to feel something before you create something like a song that could change the world, you have to remain really vigilant and strong. We cannot let this man undermine everything we have fought for over the last 30 years, which is what’s happening by the way. You couldn’t possibly write this script and have it accepted in Hollywood, they would laugh you out of the office. ‘Then this guy becomes president and did what?’ It’s a crazy story.”
The prolific Nash emphasizes that artists should be active politically, no matter the career demands. “I spent the last 14 years making 16 CDs,” he says. “I did my box set of three, I did Crosby’s box set of three, I did Stephen [Stills’] box set of four, the CSNY 1974 stadium tour box set is four discs, and demos with recordings of CSN. I’ve been a very busy boy, you cannot get depressed and you can’t act when you’re depressed. It’s hard to stay positive, but that’s what we must remain, positive and alive.”
He is also uplifted by younger artists like the Lumineers, X Ambassadors, Zedd and more who have held benefits in recent months for Planned Parenthood and the ACLU. To Nash, who was a vocal supporter of Bernie Sanders’ presidential bid, it is essential that the new generation of musicians become activists as well.
“We need the younger generation,” he says. “People like me, Jackson [Browne] and Bonnie [Raitt], we’ve been doing benefits for 40 years and we need the younger generation, particularly people like Lady Gaga, with what’s she got, 80 million people following her on Instagram or Facebook? We need those people that have incredible followings to be able to take a stand and bring information to their followers.”
In addition to being a songwriter and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee (with CSN in 1997 and as a member of The Hollies in 2010), the England-born Nash is also a photographer and is currently showcasing his art — of such friends as Joni Mitchell, Stephen Stills and, yes, Crosby — at the NAMM (National Association of Music Merchandisers) Museum Of Making Music in Carlsbad, Calif.