CSN find a new high on new DVD, tour

First live release in decades is strong and sure.
By Mark C. Brown  

Graham Nash must be a terrible poker player. He can't hide his emotions. Crosby, Stills & Nash have had their ups and downs personally and professionally over the years. When they're not feeling it onstage, it's obvious. But when they are, you can see it, hear it and feel it.

And this is one of those years.

"If people don't see this tour they're going to miss the best of CSN. They really are," Nash said. It's not just brash talk; promoters are surprised to find CSN selling more tickets than in the past several years, and the boys in the band have re-found their balance and harmony, literally and figuratively. The new DVD "CSN 2012" shows a supportive audience hooting wildly when Stephen Stills hits the high note in the middle of "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes." Check the exclusive clip below of "Love the One You're With" to see what we're talking about.

Nash may be the busiest of the bunch, compiling a Stills box set where Nash listened to every recorded note he could find on his partner as well as a "brilliant" CSNY live '74 box (both due early next year -- we'll see). Still, he took a few minutes to talk by phone recently from a tour stop near Chicago -- “That reminds me, we have to do that song tonight, don’t we?”

MSN: Promoters I talked to are in awe that you're selling more tickets than in many years.

Nash: "Every night. There’s something going on here this year. But it’s also reflected in silly things like merchandising. Everything is taking an exponential move upward. It comes at a time when Stephen’s on fire, David (Crosby) is in great health. They’re getting on great, which means I don’t have to stand in the middle to keep them off of each other. The two things that are very obvious on the DVD, CD and Blu-ray. We look like we wanna be there and it’s true. And it looks like we really do care about each other. When you have a HD camera staring you in the face you can’t fake it.”

The audience is very much on your side. I was at the first Bridge benefit concert in '86 and the crowd was overjoyed to see CSNY back together again when David got out of prison. This feels they same - they're pulling for you and thrilled to see it work.

“Yeah. We’re very happy with each other right now and it’s showing.... Any relationship has its ups and downs – it’s been 43 years for us! I’m sure if the great spirits allow us to get older we could be doing this for 50 years. We’ve been through insanity together from the highest highs to the lowest lows but we still care about each other. The music  is still the part of the relationship."

And some things remain the same. All these years later you’re still singing “Military Madness.”

“It’s sad, though. It’s sad. As a songwriter I'm thrilled my work is lasting this long. but we're still having to sing it? We haven't learned a thing from all the wars that have gone on in the past? It's insane that we still have to keep singing that."

You're as outspoken as ever ("Almost Gone," a song about whistle-blower Bradley Manning was the #1 video on Al Jazeera recently) but seem to pay no consequences for it unlike some other artists.

"We live in a country we're privileged to live in, especially me. I'm English. But I've been an American citizen for over 30 years now. I'm proud of this country. It's a fantastic country. i have a better view of this country because i'm not from here. We're privileged to be in a country that allows us to speak our mind. Half the (expletive) we talk about if we were in a different country we might be in jail or dead."

You worked on an album of cover songs with Rick Rubin called "Songs We Wish We'd Written" and the sessions fell apart. Is that still moving?

"The idea is a great idea. We've done a lot and what we did with Rick Rubin is owned by Sony and is in the shelves somewhere in the bowels of Sony Land. We took some of those songs and rerecorded them at Jackson Browne's studio in Santa Monica. Of the seven that we did, we really, really liked four. We don't wanna waste time, not at this part of our lives. So it has to be brilliant. What we have to do is take those songs and make them ours. When we do 'Close Your Eyes' by James Taylor I don't want people thinking about James Taylor. I want them to think maybe we'd written that song. We're doing it with 'Girl from the North Country' night after night and it's killing them...it takes a lot to get us all on the same page. We're all three incredibly busy with the rest of our lives. We're all husbands and fathers and we have other albums going. I have my art shows and my paintings. It's difficult to get it all together. We're on the road now till October. We'll have been on the road for 10 months and we'll want a break from each other...all of a sudden you're into another year."

You're working on your memoirs for next year with Bob Spitz. How are you approaching that?

"It's not going to be a co-write. He's going to make sure it's going to be in my voice. And we've been talking for days, days, days about everything in my life. We'll put it in a great form, and put it out. I'm a storyteller. I love telling stories. And quite frankly I've been around for a while."

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