Friday, January 17, 2014

I Like Graham Nash - His Book, Not So Much

I just finished Wild Tales: A Rock & Roll Life by Graham Nash, whose high harmonies were the secret sauce in the amazing vocals of Crosby, Stills & Nash (& sometimes Young). I loved CSN/CSNY and their various solo/duo projects back in the 70's, when I was an aspiring singer/songwriter myself. Nash's songs had an appealing simplicity and his harmony choices really made the CSN vocal sound. He's pictured above circa 1969 with then-girlfriend Joni Mitchell. It didn't last, but at least they both got songs out of the deal, e.g., Graham's "Our House," and Joni's much better song, "Willy" (which was his nickname), though "Our House" was a much bigger hit.

There was much in this book that I already knew, but much that I wanted to hear about from Nash's perspective. While I enjoyed some parts of the book, Nash definitely needed an editor to make his prose more readable and the compulsive name-dropping and bragging less obnoxious. He did what he did and he knows who he knows - he's a talented guy and a celebrity, and he's entitled to be proud of his achievements and to share the details as he wishes. But others far more accomplished than Graham Nash have written autobiographies without sounding quite so pompous, shallow, and repetitive. Even Sting managed to pull this off. I read the first half and struggled to skim the rest. I'll grant that Graham Nash is a talented songwriter and singer, and I'll take his word on his skills in the visual and fine arts - but as a writer of prose... he should have had a ghost writer (or if he DID have one, he should have fired him or her!).