Graham Nash has had a great life -- just ask him.
Or pick up a copy of his newly released autobiography, "Wild Tales: A Rock & Roll Life," and read all about his excellent exploits with the Hollies and Crosby, Stills and Nash (not to mention Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young).
The British singer-songwriter, who now lives in Southern California, has sold millions of records, played at some of the most noteworthy concerts of all time (such as the original Woodstock festival in 1969 and the legendary No Nukes concerts in 1979) and helped craft countless classic rock tunes that are still cherished by countless fans today. He's been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice -- as one-third of CSN in 1997 and then as a member of the Hollies in 2010.
Nash, 71, remains incredibly active in the music industry. He just performed with CSNY -- the supergroup that also features David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Neil Young -- at the Bridge School Benefit concerts late last month at Shoreline Amphitheatre at Mountain View.
Now he's returning to the area on his own solo tour, which is scheduled to stop Wednesday at Yoshi's-Oakland and Nov. 14 at Yoshi's-San Francisco. Showtime for each show is 8 p.m., and tickets are $89 (www.yoshis.com). He also has a speaking engagement on Nov. 15 at San Francisco's Commonwealth Club (www.commonwealthclub.org).
I recently spoke with Nash about his upcoming solo shows, his long involvement with Young's Bridge School Benefit (dating back to year one, in 1986) and other issues.
Q I had the chance to see you perform as part of CSNY at last month's Bridge benefit. How did it feel to get the whole gang back together again?
A My partners amaze me constantly. That was the first time we'd sung together in about eight years -- since 2006. It's always a pleasure to play with Neil, of course.
Q CSN, of course, has remained active during that time period. Is there an adjustment period that occurs once Young enters the picture? Or is it immediately like old times once all four men unite onstage?
A It's pretty second-nature. We only rehearsed for two or three hours a day -- and we only rehearsed for two days. So it wasn't like we had to slave to get back to that sound. That happens pretty naturally, fortunately.
Q Besides the Bridge shows, you also performed at Shoreline as part of 2011's No Nukes concert. What was that like?
A I love to be able to speak my mind. We live in a country that allows us to speak our minds. ... I am very proud to be able to talk about issues with our fans that affect them directly. Of course, the nuclear power industry affects them directly.
Q Are you looking forward to playing at the much more intimate Yoshi's clubs this time through town?
A I've played to hundreds of thousands of people at one time. But these smaller venues are very interesting for a musician because if I can see (fans') eyes, I can really touch their hearts with songs of love and songs of concern about the environment and songs of concern about issues that are facing us daily.
Q How different is it for you to handle all the vocals in a show?
A It's not different for me because I sing on everything that CSN does. What is different is that I get to sing my own songs. I get to sing songs that I haven't done in years. I get to sing songs that I wrote this morning. I get to sing songs that (fans) love to hear. It's really fabulous because I can set my own pace; I can set my own set list. It's very freeing. I love making music with David and Stephen and Neil, but these solo concerts are very satisfying to me.
Q What will fans hear at the Yoshi's gigs?
A They are going to hear songs that they've paid good money to listen to. Everybody wants to hear "Our House" and "Teach Your Children" and songs like that. But I also get to do brand-new songs, and I get to do songs that I haven't done in 40 years. It's a great night for me. I'm loving it. I just did 12 shows on the East Coast, and everybody was pretty satisfied.
Q Should we expect a new solo record soon?
A I have so many new songs that I can't wait to get back into the studio. But it's a question of time. Right now, my time is taken up by finishing up the four-CD box set of the CSNY 1974 stadium tour. The music is fabulous. I think people are going to really, truly enjoy this box set. We were a really excellent rock 'n' roll band.
Q Meanwhile, you just released a book.
A Yes, my autobiography came out. It's called "Wild Tales," and it's selling extremely well. People who have read the book are telling me that they are enjoying sharing my journey through life. It's been cathartic and thrilling to do it. And now I can get on with the rest of my life.
Q How different is it to go from writing songs to writing a book?
A It's just like songs. You just have to link them all together into some kind of chronological journey. I've never been a man to look backward. I don't care what happened 40 years ago -- there's not much you can do about it, you know? So it was very interesting looking at my life and realizing just what an incredible journey it has been.
Q While writing your autobiography, what was the most interesting rediscovery you made about Graham Nash?
A How much he's enjoyed the journey. I made the choice when I was 13 or 14 years old that I wanted to be a musician, and I wanted to make rock 'n' roll music. And my mother and father encouraged me to do that, rather than, you know, forced me to go down into the mine or into the mill. From that moment on, my life has been insanely great.
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