It’s been a season of change for Graham Nash.
Last spring, he announced that he was done working with long-time musical partner David Crosby, which also meant the end of the groups Crosby, Stills & Nash and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.
“Right now, I don’t want anything to do with Crosby at all. It’s just that simple,” Nash told Billboard. “In my world there will never, ever be a Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young record, and there will never be another Crosby, Stills & Nash record or show. I don’t like David Crosby right now. He’s been awful for me the last two years. … David has ripped the heart out of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.”
Nash has not elaborated on exactly what transgressions he feels Crosby has committed, and in this recent phone interview, he declined to shed any further light on the rift, but since then he has said he’s open to reconciliation.
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“You know, with friends you get into an argument and you say things you didn’t mean,” he recently told The Modesto Bee. “That goes always with the four of us. I think whatever silly arguments keeping us apart pale in comparison with what’s happening politically in this country, I think we need to get out there and start.”
His off-and-on friendship with Crosby and of CSN and CSN&Y, though, isn’t the only seismic change in Nash’s life. He has also divorced his wife of 38 years, Susan, and has a new girlfriend, Amy Grantham.
Nash has a good deal to say about this new phase in his personal life – in this interview and in the lyrics on his new solo album, “This Path Tonight.”
“This new direction in my life has kind of taken me by complete surprise,” Nash said. “I mean, to make the profound changes in my life, in terms of divorcing my wife, Susan, and falling in love with Amy Grantham. … To be making such profound decisions at 74 years old is kind of shocking to me, but it’s what my heart tells me I must do.”
Nash, now 75, said his marriage ended because of a simple, fundamental problem.
“I believe that love has to be fed,” he said. “It’s like any living thing. You have to feed love. You have to leave a note here. You have to leave a flower on the pillow. You have to feed love. So Susan and I forgot to feed it, and it just died.”
Nash said he was introduced to Grantham, a photographer, at a Crosby, Stills & Nash concert through the personal assistant/road manager for Stephen Stills, and the attraction was immediate.
“Amy Grantham is a brilliant artist herself, and quite frankly has set me on fire creatively,” Nash said of Grantham, who took the photos used in the packaging of “This Path Tonight.”
Many of the songs, such as “Myself At Last” (which is about his fresh start with Grantham) “Fire Down Below,” and the title track find Nash taking stock of his past, pondering the decisions he’s made and trying to figure out where his life is going. The closing song, “Encore,” puts his future into musical terms, asking “What’re you gonna do when the last show is over.”
It doesn’t look like that last show will happen any time soon for Nash.
The album took shape in October 2014, when Nash and his new songwriting partner, Shane Fontayne, had a burst of songwriting that produced 20 songs, 10 of which made the main album. (Three others were used as bonus tracks.)
Like many of the songs Nash has recorded in his career – which began in the mid-1960s in the British pop group the Hollies before he joined forces in 1968 with Stills and Crosby in CSN and then added Neil Young to form CSN&Y – the songs on “This Path Tonight” are primarily acoustic and seamlessly blend folk and pop.
Some, like “Myself At Last,” “Back Home” and “Target” are near solo, while others, such as “This Path Tonight,” “Another Broken Heart” and “Cracks in the City” feature judicious full-band backing that adds color to the songs without sacrificing the intimacy that characterizes the album.
The feel of the album should translate nicely to Nash’s live shows, in which he is joined only by Fontayne. This format – as well as the size of the theater venues he’s playing – allow Nash to interact with audiences and share stories behind his songs.
“Taking these songs down to the very essence of how they were written and performing them that way for the audience is thrilling so far,” Nash said. “You know, I’m a communicator. I want to make contact. It’s one of the reasons why I love playing these smaller theaters. They’re beautiful and they’re intimate, and I can see peoples’ eyes.”
Graham Nash’s This Path Tonight Tour
When: 8 p.m., Sunday, March 26
Where: Veterans Memorial Hall, Grass Valley
Information: 530-274-8384, ext. 14, thecenterforthearts.org