U-T San Diego: Graham Nash's hippie ideals endure

Passionate music legend shares his story in candid new autobiography ‘Wild Tales: A Rock & Roll Life.’ His two Belly Up shows next month are sold-out.

By George Varga

Singer Graham Nash is interviewed during a break in the recording session for the audio book version of his "Wild Tales: A Rock & Roll Life" autobiography, in New York, Thursday, July 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Richard Drew) — AP

Graham Nash is almost sputtering.

It is near the end of an in-depth interview and the English-born, naturalized American rock legend has reaffirmed his position as one of pop’s most charmingly loquacious singer-songwriters. His voice dances as he discusses his often absorbing autobiography, “Wild Tales: A Rock & Roll Life” (Crown).

Suddenly, the co-founder of The Hollies, Crosby, Stills & Nash, and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young is so taken aback by a question that he sounds incredulous. The query that reduces him to a near-sputter is: How did the hippie idealism of the 1960s, and its fabled peace-and-love ethos, go wrong?

“It didn’t go wrong, at all!” an uncharacteristically indignant Nash replies.

“The hippie idealism, to me, is that love is better than hate, that peace is better than war, that we’d better take care of each other, and that — if you see somebody less fortunate than you — try and treat them the way you would want them to treat you. Those hippie ideals haven’t gone anywhere.”

After pausing to reflect, he acknowledges those ideals have lost much of their cachet in an era when shallow celebrities are lauded simply for being celebrities.

“They’ve been replaced by Justin Bieber’s monkey and Kim Kardashian’s ass,” lamented Nash, who performs sold-out concerts here Nov. 4 and 5 at the Belly Up. “But those (hippie) ideals are still important, and getting more important by the day. The moment corporations completely take over the world, we’re (finished)...”

This burst of passion is quintessential Nash.

He is as outspoken and committed to his beliefs now as when Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young performed at Woodstock in both 1969 and — minus Young — 1994. His zest for life, and for pushing himself to excel, are both unabated.

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