February 11, 2009 / 2:23 PM / 10 years ago

Just A Minute With: singer-songwriter Graham Nash

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Graham Nash, the English guy in the rock supergroup Crosby, Stills & Nash, is back in the studio working on the first CSN album in a decade and has just released a three-disc box-set of his work.

British musician Graham Nash performs for a satellite radio show to promote his new retrospective boxed set in New York January 29, 2009. It took just 40 seconds, singing harmony with Stephen Stills and David Crosby, to convince Nash to take the musical step that led ultimately to the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

The writer of rock classics such as “Teach Your Children” and “Our House,” grew up in Manchester, in post-war England. Inspired by rock ‘n roll stars like Buddy Holly and the Everly Brothers, he formed The Hollies, which had several hits and was a part of the “British Invasion” of America.

But he found his true calling when he teamed with David Crosby and Stephen Stills in Los Angeles to write and perform some of the songs that defined the Woodstock era of social upheaval of the late 1960’s and 70’s.

Rhino Records just released a box-set of the work of Nash who is now 67. Nash spoke to Reuters about music, his mother, Woodstock and President Barack Obama.

Q. Did your parents approve of your musical career?

A. “My parents encouraged me, when everyone else was getting hit upside the head and told ‘get a real job.’ Before my mother died I asked her why they didn’t put me off and she said, ‘Because I wanted to be a singer on the stage. But then World War Two came and I married your dad and (had) three kids, and my dreams were gone.’ But she said ‘I’m living my dreams through your life.’

“That’s why at Carnegie Hall ... I put my hand in my pocket and pulled out some ashes of my mother and spread them on the stage. She always wanted to play and I took her there.”

Q. You have three kids, have we taught our children well?

A. “My kids have always known that as long as they have passion for what they are doing, I will be proud of them.

“As a generation, everything gets better. Politically, we’re a lot better off. Eight years of the Bush administration’s abysmal record ... fooling around with the constitution and messing with individual rights. Bush was a nightmare, we’ve come out of the nightmare.”

Q. Will you write about that?

A. “I don’t know yet, it’s a difficult subject to write about but I’m constantly thinking about how much hope Obama has brought to the world.”

Q. You live in Hawaii, have you met Obama.

A. “I met him in San Francisco when Jackson Browne and I did a benefit for him. I checked his body language out ... his eye contact, because I wanted to know who is this man?

“You can find out more about a person by how he treats other people ... My conclusion is that this is a brilliant man, he can certainly think, he can put a sentence together. He has a vision for this country that I believe we should follow.”

Q. Is the spirit of Woodstock and the 60’s alive and well?

A. “I remember like it was yesterday. It was a tremendous time in this country ... The summer of love was an interesting phenomenon ... thinking that peace was better than war and love was better than hate, and all those silly Woodstock naive things still hold true.”

Q. Why did you become a U.S. citizen in 1981?

Slideshow (7 Images)

A. “I moved to America and I loved America and I wanted to be part of this society and I didn’t want to feel hypocritical in terms of criticizing this country or praising this country without being a real part of it.”

Q. How about iPods and downloading music?

A. “It’s not like getting a new record and feeling it and smelling it ... rolling a joint on it — you can’t do that on an iPod!”

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