Review : Graham Nash - Songs For Beginners
RollingstaonesHow do you write about breaking up with Joni Mitchell?" asks Graham Nash in the liner notes to his first solo album. Good question. His 1970 split with the willowy Canadian singer-songwriter was the seed of this modest 33-minute solo debut, which proves the cliché that unfortunate events can generate excellent art. The stripped-down piano ballads "Better Days" and "Simple Man" ("I just want to hold you/I don't want to hold you down") and the majestic "I Used to Be a King," spangled with Jerry Garcia's crystal-palace pedal steel, are all stirring heartbreak exorcisms. Yet the most memorable songs are driven not by tears but by political passion: the jauntily accusatory "Military Madness" (nicely overhauled for the Bush era on CSNY's recent concert-film soundtrack, Déjà Vu Live) and "Chicago," whose image of a man "bound and gagged" and gospelish reprise of "we can change the world" still feels desperately timely 37 years later. Alongside Neil Young's "Ohio," they remain the most potent political anthems in the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young songbook. Nash would devote most of his later career to collaboration, but this shows that even for team players, solitude can be a good thing....full text
UncutIn 1971, Graham Nash found himself in reflective mood after his split from Joni Mitchell. His 33-minute solo debut is a sweet, sometimes naïve set, with three songs about Joni (including “Better Days”)....full text
GrinningplanetAlbum Review: Graham Nash is best known for being 1/3 of the mega-star group Crosby, Still & Nash. It's fair to say that the talent in that band was evenly distributed, but it's also fair to say that Graham Nash had the most sensitive touch when it came to songwriting. His subjects ranged from riots and war to romance and love, and his melodies varied from ever-so-soft to bold and beautiful. Songs for Beginners is one of his few original studio albums, and it's one of his best, featuring a mix of masterful songs. "Military Madness" is a catchy musical complaint about how a tide of "war fever" sometimes washes over societies. The amazing "I Used to Be a King" is about a lost relationship; it's so good that you can almost feel the wound in the singer's heart yourself. The folkish, pretty "Man in the Mirror" is about trying to make sense of life, while "There's Only One" is about taking care of our one and only Mother Earth. "Chicago" was a hit single from the album, and it's hook has an excellent play on words: "We can change the world; it's dying—to get better." There are plenty of progressive messages in Graham Nash's works for those who want to hear them. For those who don't (or don't care), letting the words melt into the well crafted music works fine too....full text
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