Dec 5, 2013
Graham Nash Still Really Gives a S#!*
Posted on Aug 5, 2012
By Mr. Fish
Fish: Which speaks to the artistry of performing too—the fact that while there is artistry in the initial creation of a piece of art, there can also be true artistry in the re-creation of the piece in a public performance. That’s why your live shows [never] come off as mere nostalgia trips.
GN: Right, although nostalgia is a part of the shows too. These songs mean a lot to people. I mean, it doesn’t mean anything for me to do “Our House” again, but it means a great deal to the audience. So, yeah, maybe I’m tired of the song. It was written 40 years ago—who gives a shit? I understand our responsibility to give them what they came for. There’s that, but I also realize that our audience loves us enough to be there for a song we might’ve written this morning.
Fish: Which, again, really speaks to that commitment you seem to have to the role of the artist in society—the role of existing in the moment and responding to life directly, not as a historian or a soothsayer, but as an active participant, as it happens.
GN: The moment we’re in is all we got, kiddo.
Fish: Right, and the fact that you have written a song about Bradley Manning [“Almost Gone”] and that you’re performing it in front of massive audiences who, I would guess, either don’t know who he is or, if they do, consider him a traitor and a dangerous criminal, speaks volumes about your credibility as an artist and social commentator. What you’re doing is, really, a terribly significant and important political act. Again, when it comes to modern-day folk heroes like Manning, it is going to take a troubadour to carry [Manning’s] story from hamlet to hamlet, city to city, to deliver the news that the dominant culture is either blind or indifferent to.
GN: We’re just a link in a long, long chain that stretches all the way back to a guy or a woman sitting in a cave and beating the fuck out of a log, all the way through to Pete Seeger, the Weavers, Dylan, Peter, Paul and Mary—we’re all part of this big chain and [CSN] recognize[s] that.
Fish: You recognize that, but are there any members of the current roster of contemporary singer-songwriters who also recognize that? Is that chain in danger of being broken? After all, all traditions eventually die. Is the protest singer tradition dying?
Fish: So where are they then? Where are the songwriters who try to remind us that human beings are precious and fragile and deserving of a world that is environmentally sound, just as an example? Where are the poets to make beautiful the notion that we should not be victimized by the shitty foreign and domestic policies of our governments? Such subject matter seems much less apparent in contemporary popular music.
GN: It’s less apparent because it’s not being shown. It’s less apparent because the people who own the world’s media you can count on one hand. It’s less apparent because [corporations] don’t want protest songs on their radios and their TVs and in their movies. They don’t want to stir up the sheep. They want you to fucking lie there and buy another pair of sneakers and another Coca-Cola, shut the fuck up while we rob you blind. That’s what’s going on—“Bread and circuses, Part II.”
Fish: Which, I guess, brings us to the significance of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
GN: Right, it’s important for people to realize that they’re not alone and that they’re not crazy for thinking we’re fucked. [The movement] is about recognizing the division between the haves and the have-mores—it’s not even between the haves and have-nots. It’s between the haves and have-mores. That’s what’s going on here and people recognize that and they’re getting infuriated.
Fish: And it’s so obvious, this victimization of the 99 percent, that the whole thing came about as a mass realization, like you said. It didn’t require the emergence of a leader or a prophet to arrive on the scene and convince people of something they weren’t aware of.
GN: Exactly, there is no leader, which is a good thing. What happens with movements, historically, is there is usually a face, a leader, for the movement, and an enemy, if he’s smart, will attack that leader.
Fish: Kill him and vilify his intentions.
GN: Say that he slept with little boys in 1963, right. With [Occupy] there’s no one to attack—it’s just a movement. There’s no Martin Luther King or Gandhi to assassinate. It’s like trying to defeat terrorism—what the fuck does that mean? It’s an idea and you can’t kill an idea.
Fish: You can only add positive or negative energy to it, try to determine its trajectory.
GN: This Occupy movement is not dead. It may have disappeared from the headlines, but it’s not dead.
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