May 23, 2013
Graham Nash Still Really Gives a S#!*
Posted on Aug 5, 2012
By Mr. Fish
“Yeah,” he said, strumming louder and shifting into a clave rhythm, his smile stretched ear to ear, “that’s it, Darren!”
“Whoa whoa whoa,” he sang, bouncing his head up and down. “Whoa whoa whoa! Great—now try this,” he hollered. “Hey Bo Diddley! Hey Bo Diddley! Now you answer me back! Ready?”
“Hey Bo Diddley!” he said.
“It’s Dwayne,” I shouted, “not Darren!”
“Go, Hey Bo Diddley!”
“Hang on for a second!” I said, tucking my hair behind my ears and watching him fall further into his excruciatingly Caucasian boogie fever, his magnified eyeballs rolled back in his head and his feet and elbows going every which way. “Mr. Dragonetti!” I yelled, through cupped hands. Nothing. “Stop it!” I commanded, starting to worry that if I didn’t do something soon I and everybody else on the block were liable to end up in a conga line behind this jackass. “Mr. Dragonetti!” I cried.
“Mama’s little baby loves short’nin’, short’nin’. Mama’s little baby loves short’nin bread. Mama’s little baby lo.”
“Shit!” I howled, standing up quickly enough to topple my chair.
Five minutes later I was walking down the street with my guitar case and the chord progressions for “Handy Man” written out illegibly in pen in the assignment workbook I had tucked up under my arm. I never took another lesson in anything ever again and never forgot what my first real experience with emancipation felt like and how I wanted to experience it again and again.
Thirty-five years later, I met with my friend—my liberator!—Graham Nash atop a fancy hotel in Manhattan overlooking a rainy Central Park to talk about “CSN 2012,” the first live performance DVD and CD set from Crosby, Stills and Nash in more than two decades.
Graham Nash: The reason why we’re on tour right now is because we’re there for Stephen. When the [Buffalo] Springfield did those six or seven shows in California [last summer] and Neil [Young] said to Stephen [Stills], “Hey, man, Springfield should go out next year, we could make some good music and make a lot of money.” Now, when you get that kind of commitment from Neil you arrange the rest of your life for that. But then when Neil calls one day and says, “Nah, I just don’t feel like it, man,” you’re fucked.
Mr. Fish: But isn’t that Young’s pattern? From what I’ve read, it’s legendary, him existing from moment to moment—from millisecond to millisecond.
GN: It’s always been his pattern, yeah. And it’s one of the most admirable and the most infuriating parts of Neil Young that I know. But that was devastating to Stephen, not just musically and spiritually, because he’s been a dear friend to Neil for many, many years, of course, but also financially because the loss of that potential can be devastating to a person. So when David [Crosby] and I heard that we went up to Stephen’s house and said, “You know what, we’re not going out just as Crosby and Nash this year. Let’s all three of us go out—we’re here for you, man.” And something happened. I think Stephen finally realized that me and David really care about him and love him. And he’s come to this tour with a vengeance. He’s really committed to making the best music that he can.
Fish: Let’s talk for a minute about the process of making art and how the act of creating it can be a radical act of dissent. Most art is conceived and created within a private space, away from the straight society and away from all the preconceived notions about what is politically correct and what should and shouldn’t be censored. When an artist makes a piece of art, he or she is not interested in serving social mores or some corporate or religious or political ideal that is externally imposed. More often than not, he or she is making art for the purpose of cutting through all that external bullshit in search of a deeper truth about the human experience. In that way, art is a radical act of dissent because it deliberately ignores convention and favors an alternative point of view.
GN: You got that right.
Fish: An artist cannot bullshit his art because the honesty demanded by the creative process won’t let him.
GN: And you can’t bullshit the HD camera that’s in your face, either. That’s why I’m so pleased with the new DVD, because it shows that there’s no doubt that we like each other and that we want to be there. It’s important for our audience to know that we’re not just going through the motions.
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