How much do we love Graham Nash, who celebrates a birthday on Feb. 2? Let us count the ways: there’s his work with The Hollies, his various recorded efforts with David Crosby, Stephen Stills, and occasionally Neil Young, and - lest we forget - there’s also his solo career. To commemorate this iconic British singer/songwriter turning another year older, we’ve put together a few small lists of top tracks from the various aspects of his career as a recording artist.
The Hollies, “On a Carousel” (1967)
This hit Hollies single was effectively a call to arms by Nash, Allan Clarke, and Tony Hicks to prove that they could write as big a hit as the composers who’d been penning their previous hits. In his memoir, Wild Tales, Nash called the track “one of The Hollies' best songs. It's a pop song with an infectious chorus, but flirts with gorgeous shifts in rhythmic texture [that keep] the melody from becoming predictable. And the lyric captures the essence of young love without the usual moon-and-June cliches. We knew it was a hit from the get-go."
The Hollies, “Carrie Anne” (1967)
Another tune by the Clarke/Nash/Hicks trifecta, this single - which went Top 10 in the U.S. and Top 5 in the U.K. - was, per Clarke, written during a concert the band did with Tom Jones.
The Hollies, “King Midas in Reverse” (1967)
Although credited to the threesome who wrote the preceding two songs, it’s widely known that this was really a solo composition by Nash, one which was sonically different enough that it ultimately spurred Nash to leave the group and pursue other musical endeavors.
The Hollies, “Jennifer Eccles” (1968)
The last of The Hollies’ ‘60s singles to be co-written by Nash, this tune was strictly a Nash/Clarke co-write, but it also had lyrical input from their wives. That’s only appropriate, since the name was a combination of the ladies’ names: Jennifer Clarke and Rose Eccles Nash!
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, “Teach Your Children” (1970)
Nash has cited Diane Arbus’s photograph “Child with Toy Hand Grenade in Central Park” as the inspiration for this song, which was a reflection on the messages being given to children about war and other social issues.
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, “Our House” (1970)
Easily Nash’s most famous CSNY contribution, it’s also one with a well-known history, written about his life with then-companion Joni Mitchell. He performed it at her 75th birthday concert, turning it into a singalong at the end, and the volume of the crowd... It’ll give you chills.
Graham Nash, “Chicago” (1971)
Inspired by the Trial of the Chicago Seven and the 1968 Democratic National Convention, Nash expressed a lot of anger in the lyrics of this track, which provided him with a Top 40 hit as a solo artist and a Top 20 hit in Canada.
“Better Days” (1971)
Written by Nash for Stephen Stills after Stills’ breakup with then-girlfriend Rita Coolidge, it’s arguably one of the best songs Nash recorded during the ‘70s, and it’s a message that’s always worth revisiting.
Crosby & Nash, “Immigration Man” (1972): Crosby and Nash first teamed up as a duo in ’72, releasing a self-titled debut album and issuing this as their first single. It provided them with a Top 40 hit, with the tune climbing to No. 36 - their only Top 40 hit, but it’s a good one, to be certain.
Crosby & Nash, “Carry Me” (1975)
One of three singles from the duo’s sophomore LP, Wind on the Water, this was the only one that managed to chart, providing them with a No. 52 hit on the Hot 100.
Crosby & Nash, “Taken At All” (1976)
While this wasn’t released as a single, it was a track on the duo’s third album, Whistling Down the Wire, which proved to be their final LP for ABC Records, and it would – as you’ll be able to tell from the dates – be the last one they’d release together for quite a few years.
Crosby, Stills & Nash, “Just a Song Before I Go” (1977)
The first single from CSN’s self-titled 1977 album, Nash wrote the tune about his feelings before embarking on a concert tour. He’s said that it took him all of about 20 minutes to write it, but it led to the group’s highest-charting single, climbing to No. 7. As it happens, it’s also one of their shortest songs, clocking it at only 2:14.
Crosby, Stills & Nash, “Wasted on the Way” (1982)
Once again, Nash took CSN into the Top 10 with this single from the trio’s 1982 album Daylight Again. The inspiration behind the tune is somewhat self-explanatory, but one can presume that it’s led more than a few folks to try and stop wasting as much time over the years.
Graham Nash, “Innocent Eyes” (1986)
There is no question that this is a very, very ‘80s-sounding track, which of course makes sense when you consider that it was released in ’86, but it’s almost like Nash went out of his way to make the most ‘80s-sounding song possible. That’s not to say it’s bad - it’s catchy as all get-out - but we’re just sayin’, is all.
Crosby & Nash, “Michael (Hedges Here)” (2004)
Simply titled Crosby & Nash, the twosome’s 2004 LP was originally released as a double album, then it was pared down to a single album of the best tracks. We would argue that the single album is ostensibly the best tracks, since this tribute to their late friend and guitarist Michael Hedges didn’t make the cut.
Graham Nash, “Encore” (2016)
You may argue that there are better songs on Nash’s 2016 album This Path Tonight, but we can’t imagine you can say that there’s a more appropriate tune to end this piece.