Graham Nash donated almost $4,000 to Barack Obama in 2008. But you'd never know it from Washington Post music writer Chris Richards, who penned a mouth-breathing valentine to Nash in Tuesday's paper titled "Resonant Rocker." The story begins "While America mulls over a foreign war," and Nash is preparing for a concert and dragging out a 42-year-old hippie peace anthem about "Military Madness."
Richards makes it obvious on Tuesday that he deeply loves hippie musician Graham Nash, who he says sings with an “incredibly handsome instrument” and “over the decades, his songbook has struck a rare and brilliant balance between the personal and the political, each lending more gravity to the other.” But the name Obama never comes up in the article. With Obama's wars and NSA spying scoops, it becomes especially ridiculous as Richards discusses 2006 concert by Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young that included the song "Let's Impeach the President":
In 2006, the communication lines were healthy enough to get CSNY out on the road again. But this time, the band that captured the political tumult of the early ’70s with “Ohio” — CSNY’s indelible response to the shootings at Kent State — was pushing a message that sent some fans toward the exits, specifically during a Young screed titled "Let's Impeach the President."
In the lyrics, Young wanted Bush impeached for "lying" and "spying," for "tapping our computers and telephones." It mocks Bush for using drugs. And by Nash's lights, on which of these counts is Obama innocent? Richards doesn't say. In 2006, people walked out of the concerts, and yet:
“I didn’t take it as a negative reaction,” Nash says. “The people who walked out had the right to do that. But I wish I could talk to those people and hear what they think of George Bush now?...We must have touched a nerve. We must have moved them. I wish they would have moved over to our side, but at least they were moved to move.”
His words carry a pinch of ire and an abundance of gratitude.
“Thank God I live in a country that will allow me to speak my mind,” says Nash, who became an American citizen in 1978. “Half of the [stuff] that CSNY have said over the last 40-odd years — we would have never been allowed to say those things in other countries. We would have been silenced or killed.”
That's a nice point. It's too bad that "afflict the comfortable" Richards can't use his First Amendment freedoms to ask any questions about Nash's hero Obama. He's too much in love with Nash's politics as well as his music:
That song he still loves to sing but wishes he never had to? He’ll play it fifth. “Military Madness.” The first track from his first solo album. A story about being born into wartime blight and eventually following the rock-and-roll breeze to Laurel Canyon, where perfect rays of sunshine still couldn’t calm his anger over a hyper-militarized planet.
That fantastic arc blooms in the pages of Nash’s new autobiography, “Wild Tales,” out Tuesday....
Eyes shining a cool blue, the 71-year-old is clearly still savoring his odyssey. ...there’s room in Sunday night’s set for songs about Chelsea Manning (“Almost Gone”) and the scores of monks who have protested China’s occupation of Tibet through self-immolation (“Burning For the Buddha”). Nash says the urge to transpose his dissent into melody has always been a physical reflex: “I have to respond when my body says, ‘Hey, this is not right.’?”
Richards is so PC he couldn't even note that "Almost Gone" was originally the "Ballad of Bradley Manning," not "Chelsea." It should be noted that Nash has a close buddy in the liberal media: "He also maintains a voracious appetite for the news and enjoys a regular e-mail correspondence with Christopher Dickey, the Middle East editor for Newsweek and a former Washington Post reporter."
Not everyone is as infatuated with Nash as Richards. Jim Farber in the New York Daily News isn't impressed at all with Nash's new book:
Nash’s book suffers from a far simpler problem: It’s late to its own party. The stories of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young have already been told, exhaustively, in a book by Neil Young, two by David Crosby, and three on Laurel Canyon, including part of David Browne’s excellent work, “Fire and Rain.”
While it’s great to read the first third of Nash’s book, which centers on his time with his underreported band the Hollies, by the time he gets to 1969, we know every story. It doesn’t help that Nash hasn’t made much music of worth since the early ’70s. Neither does it elevate matters that he is being sadly accurate when he describes himself as “a simple man.”