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Graham Nash playing the guitar and singing. (Provided via Graham Nash's Facebook page)

Graham Nash to play MemAud on storytelling tour

Fifty years after a young Graham Nash graced the Woodstock stage, the singer-songwriter is bringing his storytelling tour to Athens.

Two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee with Crosby, Stills, and Nash (CSN) and the Hollies, Nash is known for penning hits such as Crosby, Stills and Nash’s “Teach Your Children” and “Marrakesh Express.” He was also inducted twice into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, as a solo artist and with CSN. 

Nash has always used his platform to advocate his beliefs. In 1970, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young released “Ohio,” written by Young. It was a protest song mourning the deaths of four Kent State University students when a peaceful protest turned violent at the hands of law enforcement. Today, Nash continues this sentiment, fighting for gun control and supporting other activists who are doing the same. 

“I certainly am enjoying the passion behind people like the survivors from the Parkland school shooting in Florida several months ago,” Nash said. “Their passion for going around the country to register people to vote and to encourage people not to vote for politicians who take money from the NRA or the gun lobby—their passion is fantastic.”

The Grammy-winner is still pushing the same peaceful agenda that he was when he took the Woodstock stage in 1969, and he believes that it is more relevant now than ever before.

“The truth is, the things that the hippies believed in are still true today,” Nash said. “Love is better than hate. Peace is better than war. We have to take care of each other ‘cause we’re all that we have on this planet. We only have one planet. We only have one skin.”

Nash also expressed his support for Greta Thunberg’s recent climate change campaign and believes that her sense of urgency ought to spread.

“I sometimes feel very pessimistic about the future of climate change and how it is going to affect humanity,” Nash said. “There are days when I feel like we’re past the tipping point and it’s going to get much worse much faster than people imagine.”

But still, Nash believes that we must continue to fight.

“[The people] have to keep pressure because that’s the only way politicians know how to deal with what their customers want,” Nash said.

The 77-year-old has inspired young, local singer-songwriters like Velvet Green Guitarist, Sam Debatin.

“It’s really hard to write a song that isn’t so specific it’s uncomfortable, but also make it not so general it doesn’t mean anything,” Debatin, a sophomore studying art history, said. “There’s this balance you have to find between universal relatability and your own personal thoughts and feelings. Finding that balance is a really cool skill to have if you can do it.”

Singer-songwriter Greg Bitowski, an Athens resident, pulls inspiration from Nash’s work as well.

“He’s one of my main idols as a singer-songwriter,” Bitowski said.

Bitowski admires Nash’s ability to create songs with jarring social relevance. 

“As singer-songwriters we all have our fluff songs, but you always do try to reach a bit deeper and come up with something a bit more meaningful,” Bitowski said. 

Nash has continued writing songs that shed light on human beings’ failure to look out for each other. 

“I think once people hear songs like ‘Immigration Man’ and ‘Field Worker’ and ‘Chicago’…They’re gonna understand that I’m a human being and that I’m the same as them. I’m trying to speak out about things that are important to me,” Nash said. “And that’s what I’m allowed to do in this country. That’s why I’m an American citizen.” 

U.K. native Nash came to America in search of musical validation but stayed in hopes of bettering the nation.

“I was appreciated [in America] more than I was in England,” Nash said. “I felt much more needed in America than I did in England at that time. I’ve been here over 50 years and I’m proud.”

Nash wants his legacy to be one of making the world a better place. In hopes of doing so, he offered some advice to the Millennial and Generation-Z populous. 

“Every breath that you take, every choice that you make in your life is important. We have to remember that,” Nash said. “I would say two things. One: take your face out of that screen. And two: follow your heart. Your heart knows what you need to do. Your heart knows what’s correct and what’s not correct. Follow your heart and you won’t go far wrong.”


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