Graham Nash just turned 75, but he’s experiencing a kind of rebirth — a new album, a new romance, a tour and an exhibit of his other lifetime love: photography.
“I became a musician, and that was overwhelming for me,” he said. “You know, photography didn’t get you laid. Music got you laid.”
Nash is on the road promoting his new album, “This Path Tonight,” which came out in 2016 — his first album of new music in 14 years.
Nash was at the center of rock 'n' roll’s heyday, first as part of the popular British band the Hollies. Then he came to America and teamed up with David Crosby and Stephen Stills in 1968. Neil Young joined them the following year, and together with Joni Mitchell — who Nash dated for a while — their music defined the folk-rock sound of the ’70s.
Nash contributed high vocals to give CSN&Y their famous harmonies. He also became political, writing songs like “Immigration Man” about his experience being held up at U.S. Customs.
The whole time, Nash was snapping photos. It’s a hobby he started when he was 10 years old thanks to his dad, who gave him an old Agfa camera.
“There’s one particular shot that I took of my mother,” he said. “I didn’t recognize her as my mother. I mean, normally she’s up in the morning making eggs and bacon for breakfast and brewing a cup of tea and... mother stuff, right? But I saw this person gazing off into the... well, was it her future or her past? I’m not sure. But I captured a moment that was not normal for a 10-year-old kid to be taking. And that’s when I knew that I saw differently than most people.”
The Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad is an unusual institution, devoted to the music product industry. They have an exhibit of Nash’s photography on display now through the end of August.
“This is an incredibly young Crosby,” he said, looking at one of the photos featured in the exhibit. “I took this in Sag Harbor when we were rehearsing the very first Crosby, Stills and Nash record. And I want to be invisible as a photographer. I don’t want you knowing I’m taking a picture. It’s obviously well known David and I are not getting on too well right now. But when I see a photograph like this, I remember ... what a good person he really is.”
Nash is in a reflective mood. He said he spent the last 20 years feeling flat, but now he’s reenergized, having recently found a new romance and released his new album.
“I guess ['This Path Tonight'] is a description of an emotional journey,” he said. “This is what happened to me. It could be interpreted as being this path with America right now and the Trump administration. Or this path generally, worldwide, with the hatred that is coming out and the division of people. Or this romantic path that I’m on right now, where I made an incredible change in my life, and dealing with that. So it’s a metaphorical journey.”
As for his photos — the museum has a music education component that speaks to Nash, and he performed a concert connected to the exhibit that raised more than $70,000.
“Unfortunately, in America, with the budget crunch that a lot of schools go through, the first thing that disappears is music and art,” said Nash. “I don’t think you’ll ever hear of a football program being canceled. That’s just who we are as a nation, and let’s get real — it’s important for kids to get music in their lives. It truly is. Not on any kind of artistic, airy-fairy kind of way. But music is important to people. It changes their lives. It moves their souls — if it’s good.”