Graham Nash says the new live performance film proves it.
“I think a couple of things are obvious from this DVD,” he said last week from a tour stop in Highland Park, Ill. “One, that we want to be there, and even more important to me personally, we like each other. It's very obvious that we really do like each other.”
That hasn't always been the case in the 44-year partnership of Stephen Stills, David Crosby and Nash. In the film “CSN 2012,” Nash at one point tells the crowd, “We've written a lot of music in our lives. But the truth is we could've written a lot more. Here's a song about it called ‘Wasted on the Way.'”
So, it's not a song about getting high.
“You know, we were very foolish in our younger days, not talking to each other for the silliest of reasons,” Nash said. “I think that's one of the reasons why the DVD is so good. All that stuff that used to p- - - you off before, it's meaningless. It's meaningless, absolutely. The only important part of our relationship is the music.”
Nash believes the 2012 model of Crosby, Stills & Nash is new and improved, and fans can find proof positive when the trio takes the Zoo Amphitheatre stage Sunday to fill the summer evening air with those amazingly close, gorgeous harmonies and two dozen or so of their best-loved tunes.
Most of the set will be made up of songs they performed in “CSN 2012” (“Carry On/Questions,” “Marrakesh Express,” “Long Time Gone,” etc.), a concert recorded three months ago in San Luis Obispo, Calif., and just released on Blu-ray, DVD and a two-CD set on their new independent CSN label.
It marks their first indie-label release, born of necessity.
“It's a very different world, isn't it?” Nash said, recalling the many years spent recording on Atlantic Records. “I think that the bean counters have taken over record companies, instead of the people that really truly loved music. I think the bottom line is more important to the major record companies now than developing an artist. It used to be that if your first single didn't do well they would wait a month or so and bring out a second single and sometimes a third single trying to break an act. That doesn't happen anymore. If they throw it at the wall and it doesn't stick, they go on to the next Britney Spears.”
Always a lot going on
“CSN 2012” features new songs by Crosby (“Radio”) and Nash (“Almost Gone”), plus a cover of Bob Dylan's “Girl From the North Country,” and Nash said he's written 18 more new tunes ready to go public.
“You know, the truth is that I only make solo albums when I've got too much music, and that seems to be the case right now,” he said. “I haven't made any plans to make a solo record, but it's heading that way. Crosby's got a dozen songs ... so he's working on a solo record. I'm just about to finish Stephen's boxed set, which comes out in probably the beginning of the year.
“A lot of stuff going on all the time. I'm working on the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young album from our 1974 stadium and basketball arena tour, which was the world's first tour like that. Yeah, the Beatles had done Shea Stadium and the Stones had played a couple of big shows, but not a tour of those. Yeah, lots to come.”
But is an album of new CSN material in the plans?
“Um, you know, anything's possible. What I like to do, being the, you know, the guy that is the main thrust behind our recording stuff, I like everything to be equal. You know, so right now I'm waiting for Stephen to write a couple more really fine songs, and then we'll have, you know, at least four each.”
There's even a slight chance they'll someday work again with their occasional fourth partner, Neil Young.
But, “We're not holding our breath. We're gettin' on with our lives. If Neil wants to call and make music, fantastic. We make great music with Neil Young. Are we holding our breath? No. Could it happen again? Absolutely.”
Ask Nash what's been the high point of his history with CSN, and he'll tell you: “The smiles on people's faces when they see us. Yep, it still gets to me. It still enables us to do ‘Our House' after, you know, 40-odd years. It's what the music means to people. It's the solace that we bring. They feel less crazy. Our friends feel less alone. They know that it's just these three guys that are trying to be as human as possible.”
And what about Woodstock?
“That was our second live performance,” Nash said. “We did the Chicago Theatre, the auditorium theater in Chicago three days before we did Woodstock. We had to like do a warm-up date, for God's sake.
“But yeah, Woodstock. What an incredible experience that was. The start and the end of a lot of things. You know, basically the end of four or five guys getting together in the garage and making music. And to the corporations realizing that this rock 'n' roll music is bringing half a million kids together so we can sell them sneakers and Coca-Colas and stuff. So it was the beginning of something and the end of something.”
Nash said they weren't nervous about performing to such a massive audience that night.
“No, not at all. No, what we were scared of is all the people are standing on the side looking at us. All our heroes. You know, the Grateful Dead and the Airplane, and Sebastian and Richie Havens and Joe Cocker. They were all our friends, dying to see whether this Crosby, Stills and Nash could really sing like that. We did.”
And they'll do it again Sunday night at the Zoo, Nash promised.
“I think that if you miss this show, your gonna miss one of the best Crosby, Stills and Nashes in our history,” he said. “We are incredibly good this year.”