Top 10 Graham Nash Songs
Like his Crosby, Stills and Nash bandmates, Graham Nash is a two-time inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But that’s what happens when you’re a founding member of two historic groups before the ’60s were even over. Nash started his career in 1962 with the Hollies, one of the most pop-oriented and successful British Invasion groups. By the end of the decade, he joined a pair of other rock refugees (the Byrds‘ David Crosby and Buffalo Springfield‘s Stephen Stills) as the only Englishman in the popular trio that would expand to a quartet, break up and regroup countless times over the past 45 years. He’s also made records as a solo artist and with pal Crosby. Our list of the Top 10 Graham Nash Songs covers his entire career.
Nash has written some pretty cloying songs over the years, and this favorite from his second album with Crosby, Stills and Nash (joined by Neil Young this time) definitely gets a little icky after a couple of minutes. But it’s also kinda sweet, as a pair of hippies (in this case, Nash and his girlfriend at the time, Joni Mitchell) settle into happy domesticity.
‘On a Carousel’
Nash co-wrote this 1967 single by the Hollies that just missed the Billboard Top 10. Although he was part of the super-tight harmonies that were the foundation of the group’s best songs, ‘On a Carousel’ marks the first time Nash took a solo lead on a single. By the end of the following year, he would leave the band, having grown dismayed with its young pop fan base.
CSN bandmates Nash and Crosby have made four albums together with Stills. Their first, from 1972, is the best. Its closing track, and album highlight, stems from a true incident that happened back in the early ’70s when Nash, who wouldn’t become a U.S. citizen until 1978, had a run-in with U.S. customs agents when he tried to enter the country.
‘Just a Song Before I Go’
Crosby, Stills and Nash reunited (without Neil Young) after a seven-year break for a third album. Not much had changed, as evidenced by the LP’s first single, a gently drifting ballad penned by Nash that reached No. 7, their highest-charting hit. It would be another five years before the trio would get back together for their fourth album (see No. 4 on our list of the Top 10 Graham Nash Songs).
Nash’s 1971 protest song from his debut solo album is all about the turbulent 1968 Democratic National Convention, which was held in Chicago, and its aftermath, in which a group of protesters were arrested and charged with inciting a riot. In this Top 40 song, Nash reaches out to his CSN bandmates to join him in protest.
Nash didn’t write ‘Woodstock,’ but he’s a main part of the song’s inspiration. Nash’s girlfriend Joni Mitchell penned the tune based on her boyfriend’s stories about the legendary music festival (he played there with CSN&Y; she couldn’t make it). Plus, he sings on the all-time best version of this oft-covered hippie relic.
‘Wasted on the Way’
After another lengthy break (see No. 7 on our list of the Top 10 Graham Nash Songs), Crosby, Stills and Nash reunited for their fourth album in 1982. Once again, Nash wrote the first single, a nostalgic look back on faded hippie idealism, and hit the Top 10 with it. ‘Wasted on the Way’ would be Nash’s last Top 10 hit.
‘Look Through Any Window’
Nash didn’t write or sing lead on the Hollies’ breakthrough single. But his heavenly harmonies drive the choruses and seal the cornerstone to the group’s success. It would be another two years before Nash would sing lead on a hit (see No. 9 on our list of the Top 10 Graham Nash Songs), but ‘Look Through Any Window,’ the Hollies’ first Top 40 hit, paved the way.
The three singers of the Hollies – Nash, Allan Clarke and Tony Hicks – trade verses on ‘Carrie Anne,’ with Nash taking the last verse. But his soaring harmonies in the intro and on the chorus make up the song’s key ingredient. He wrote ‘Carrie Anne,’ his last Top 10 hit with the group before he split in 1968, about British singer Marianne Faithfull, who was dating Mick Jagger at the time.
‘Teach Your Children’
Nash originally wrote ‘Teach Your Children’ for the Hollies, but they never got around to recording it. So he dusted it off for Crosby, Stills and Nash’s second album, called in Jerry Garcia to play pedal steel guitar and had a Top 20 hit with it. Nash has written plenty of numbers reflective of their eras (see No. 6 on our list of the Top 10 Graham Nash Songs for starters), but ‘Teach Your Children’ is as timeless as they come.