Graham Nash looks back on a life of 'Wild Tales'
Singer Graham Nash prepares during the recording session for the audio book version of his "Wild Tales: A Rock & Roll Life" autobiography, in New York, Thursday, July 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
NEW YORK (AP) — Graham Nash is in the recording studio, having a hard time saying the words.
"It was such a tumultuous smoke-ridden cocaine-driven moment that it's hard to remember everything as it went down," he reads, stumbling over the word "tumultuous" and later saying "1977" instead of "1967," an epic slip for Nash's generation.
The "moment" was Woodstock and the studio was in midtown Manhattan, where Nash recently taped the audio book of his memoir "Wild Tales." Digital technology enabled him to quickly correct his errors, but the memories will not be erased as he relives a time he still helps embody.
Few were so profoundly changed by rock 'n roll and the 1960s as Nash, a child of working class, World War II-era Britain who first became a star as a grinning harmony singer for the Hollies and, just as he feared he was locked into a life of screaming teenagers and 2-minute love songs, let his hair down as part of Crosby, Stills and Nash.
His hair a full and flawless white, he looks improbably fit and trim at 71, especially for someone who by his own account smoked and snorted through much of his 20s and 30s. But he is mindful that his luck won't last forever and decided it was time to tell his story, if only for his baby granddaughter, Stella Joy.
"I wanted to make a record of what my life was about and who I was as a person," he says.
Singer Graham Nash is interviewed during a break in the recording session for the audio book version of his "Wild Tales: A Rock & Roll Life" autobiography, in New York, Thursday, July 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
The man he became, the life he came to lead, began during a Hollies tour of the US in the mid-1960s. He was befriended by Mama Cass of the Mamas and Papas, a born mixer who sensed that the gentlemanly Nash would click with the Byrds' trouble-making David Crosby. He was soon living the American dream, late '60s style, recording a million-selling debut album with Crosby and Stephen Stills and sharing a house in Laurel Canyon with Joni Mitchell.
In his memoir, he gives his take on how Crosby, Stills and Nash first joined in song. It was 1968 and they were at Mitchell's house — "Stephen thinks we first hung together at Cass' house, and he's completely wrong," Nash says during his interview — and Crosby and Stills were working on the ballad "You Don't Have to Cry." Nash listened, asked them to run through it again, and added his high tenor to Still's husky low and Crosby's mellow middle.