Friday, January 17, 2014

Wild Tales: A Rock & Roll Life by Graham Nash

Graham Nash has led a rather charmed life, if I am reading his autobiography Wild Tales: A Rock & Roll Life correctly. He was a founding member of the Hollies and then a member of Crosby, Still & Nash (and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, of course). He has enjoyed numerous romantic relationships, most famously with Joni Mitchell. He has a loving family, has raised millions of dollars for charities and political causes, and has been a successful entrepreneur, having starting a business to print digital art. He was even awarded an OBE by Elizabeth II. There have been a few hardships in his life but never despair.

I think Nash's buoyancy is worth noting because many around him have not fair so well, particularly Stephen Still and David Crosby, both of whom have had terrible drug and alcohol problems. Nash seems to have tried every drug ever offered to him but claims to never have been addicted. He has done foolish things but seems to have survived and prospered. Why? He states in his book that music was always more important to him than drugs and that his passion for song carried him through troubles. It was music and friendship that kept him reuniting with Crosby and Stills and even Neil Young, despite their many differences. He says that he is addicted to the joining of their voices.

Nash also states that Crosby, Stills & Nash have never dissolved their partnership. Their agreement has always allowed for members having solo project and to play with other bands. Years apart are forgotten easily when they reunite.

"Tales" is an important part of the title, as Nash always has stories about event, songs, and people. I particularly liked reading about Nash's early life in Northern England with his working class family and his school pal Allan Clarke, learning to play guitar and saving meager wages to attend an Everly Brothers concert. He happily recounts stories behind the Hollies songs and playing on venues with the Beatles and other British musicians.

As a reference librarian, I was pleased to find Nash (or his publisher) included an index. In my experience, many contemporary autobiographical writings do not have indexes.

I was surprised to read so much about Cass Elliot and Jackson Browne, whom I did not associated with Nash. I am sure other readers will find other surprises as well. Wild Tales is an upbeat story that will appeal to many music fans.

Nash, Graham. Wild Tales: A Rock & Roll Life. Crown Archetype, 2013. 360p. ISBN 9780385347549.

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