Graham Nash Says His New Rock Hall of Fame Exhibit 'Looks F---ing Spectacular'
You can call Graham Nash a museum piece now -- and he'll take it as a compliment.
The new exhibit Graham Nash: Touching the Flame opens to the public Saturday at Cleveland, Ohio's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. It combines artifacts from Nash's own career -- including photographs, handwritten lyrics, clothing and instruments -- with other memorabilia he owns, including President Richard Nixon's resignation letter to Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, handwritten Bob Dylan lyrics, and guitars previously owned by Duane Allman and Phil Everly. (See photos of the exhibit below.)
"It looks f---ing spectacular," Nash tells Billboard. "The one thing that I was wanting to do more than anything is make sure people understood Graham Nash is more than just Graham Nash that musician; that I'm a photographer and a painter and a sculptor and la la la la la, all that shit. I'm happy to show it to people, to share what was going on in my life."
Touching the Flame certainly establishes Nash as an elite collector, displaying items he's purchased through document and instrumental dealers. "I find interesting stuff, and it appears before me and I either buy it or I don't," Nash explains. A different kind of "acquisition," however, was a piece of the fence from the grassy knoll in Dallas near where John F. Kennedy was shot, which Nash, a Kennedy assassination buff along with pal and bandmate David Crosby, "liberated" from the site a few years ago.
"I decided I wanted to take a little 3-inch piece of this fence as a memento," Nash recalls, "but the bloody thing had been so rusted and untouched all that time that this entire 5-feet-by-4-inches strip of fence came off in my hand. And I'm panicking; I don't know what the f--- to do about this. I look around, nobody's watching, nobody saw me, so I took it onto my bus and I've had it ever since, and that's in the exhibit."
So are the belt and jeans that Nash wore at Woodstock in 1969. "The belt still fits," he reports. "The jeans, mmmm... They could, but I'd have to really f---in' squeeze. Y'know, 50 years ago we were slightly smaller, all of us. But I just kept 'em 'cause they were my cool jeans and they were my jeans from the late '60s and early '70s."
Nash, of course, is a two-time Rock Hall inductee, with Crosby, Stills & Nash and with the Hollies. And he'd be willing to accept a third or fourth induction too, with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young or as a solo artist. "Why not? Yeah, I'd like to see me in there. I'm a pretty historical f---in' figure regardless of my association with the Hollies or CSN or CSNY. And I definitely think that CSNY is a completely different band than Crosby, Stills & Nash, and why shouldn't they be in there too?"
While he's waiting for that, Nash has plenty of present concerns on his plate. Though CSNY remains dormant -- "David's still not talking to Neil [Young], and Neil's still not talking to David" after Crosby criticized Young for splitting with his wife Pegi and taking up with Daryl Hannah -- Nash will hit the studio in November to finish up a solo album that's being produced by guitarist Shane Fontayne, who tours with him, with a spring release planned. "It's very different than anything I've done," Nash reports. "I'm not of the opinion 'more is more'; I think I'm going to choose the best 10 or 11, maybe the 12 best songs and get them finished and mastered and ready to put out."
With CSN, meanwhile, he's hoping to return to the covers project that the trio began recording with Rick Rubin during 2010 but ultimately scuttled. Some of the songs have been re-recorded in Jackson Browne's studio in Los Angeles with plans to do more when touring schedules allow. "I still think it's a brilliant idea to do an album of songs we wish we'd written," Nash says. The trio is also slated to sing at the White House Christmas tree lighting ceremony during December, which may give Nash an opportunity to push another idea he's been harboring for a long time.
"I've been trying to get CSN to do a Christmas album for 40 years," he says, "but, 'No, no, no, we can't do that. That's something you do at the end of your career when you don't have any creative outlet.' So I've been wanting to do it for a long time. It's got its problems for sure, but I think it's an interesting idea."
Below are some photos from the exhibit: