Graham Nash recalled the “emotionally destroying” experience that reduced him to tears in the studio for the only time in his life.
The moment took place when Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young were working on their landmark 1970 album Deja Vu. In a new interview on Apple Music’s Zane Lowe Show, Nash remembered the challenge of working alongside Neil Young.
“One of the things that we found out very quickly was just who Neil wanted to be as a person,” he said. “Neil Young is a brilliant musician, obviously, and one of the things that makes him such a brilliant musician is that he physically reacts to the muse of music. … When it’s going great, he’s right there, 100 percent. When it’s not going great, he’s going to turn left on the freeway where everybody else turns right. So we started to find out who Neil was. … We didn’t become a band like Crosby, Stills & Nash was. We became something else, and it was painful.”
One example of that pain was the fact that mixes would change after Nash believed they were completed. “I would do a mix of, say, ‘Carry On’ that I loved and everybody loved in the studio when we mixed it,” Nash said. “We’d go home, we would sleep, we’d come back the next day, and the mix was completely redone. Mixes sometimes take hours and hours to prep. So when you’ve put all your effort into that, and you’ve got something that you really love, and you come back the next day and it’s completely different, it doesn’t make for a great feeling.”
You can listen to the interview below.
Nash noted that “at one point, I looked at Stephen [Stills] and David [Crosby] and Neil … and I said, ‘Look, we’re blowing this. We’re just blowing this.’ And I started to cry. And that’s the only time that I’ve ever cried when I was making music. That time was very emotionally distressing for me, because I want the song done. Do you want to do all these songs and make a great album? I’m there … and I won’t quit until it’s done, but it was emotionally destroying.”
The singer and songwriter previously said he had doubts when the idea of bringing Young into the band was first suggested. In the new interview, he explained that he was concerned that Young and Stills had endured character clashes when they worked together in Buffalo Springfield.
“But we had another problem, and that was that I’d never met Neil,” he said. “And so I said to the boys, ‘Look, before we invite Neil to join this band, I have to meet him. … I don’t know whether he can be my friend. I know he’s great, but … I have to meet him before I can invite him with a good heart into this band.’”
The pair met for breakfast on New York’s Bleecker Street, “and after that breakfast, I would have given him the world,” Nash recalled. “He was funny. He was self-deprecating. He was very confident. At the end of the breakfast, I said, ‘Look, Neil, tell me one reason why we should invite you into this band?’ And he looked at me and he said, ‘Have you ever heard me and Stephen play guitar together?’ I said, ‘I have.’ He said, ‘That’s why you want me in this band.’ And he was right.”
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