WildTales

When Graham Nash visited Penguin Towers recently, we sat down with him to hear from the man himself about the 10 songs that mean the most to him. Graham recorded this as an audio interview, but we thought we'd share it with you here so you can listen to the songs as you read.

This post is in Graham's words. We hope you like it. Happy listening.

1. The first song I’d like to talk about is Be-Bop-A-Lula by
Gene Vincent. An amazing, amazing record, recorded 2-track at Capital Records. One of the reasons I joined Capital Records personally, apart from all
the financial stuff that went on between my managers and the record company,
was that I would join if they would leave me in the studio with the original
two-track of Gene Vincent’s Be-Bop-A-Lula. It was the very first record I ever
bought and unfortunately the day after I bought it I sat on it. It was a '78 and
of course it shattered. Anyway, this is Be-Bop-A-Lula by Gene Vincent.

2. I was once talking to John Lennon about great
rock’n’roll songs. And he and I both agreed that Great Balls of Fire by Jerry
Lee Lewis was undeniably a great, great rock’n’roll song.

3. One of my personal favourite groups of course, is The
Everly Brothers. I’ll never forget what their music did to me when I was fifteen years old, I was enthralled by their sound, by
their harmony. I know they were brothers and I know they came from Kentucky but
they had this unbelievable blend. In 1992 in Toledo, Ohio, I was in my hotel
room and the phone rang. It was Phil Everly and he was talking to me. I said "Why are you talking to me in Toledo, Ohio?" And he said, “Well, you’re doing
the show at the place that we’re going to play tonight. Would you like to come
to the show?” So I went down with The Everly Brothers in their bus, to the
venue. We had that rubber chicken at 5 o'clock after soundcheck that most
rock’n’roll bands have and Don Everly looked at me and said “OK. What are you
gonna sing with us?” And you know, I’m dying inside, it’s been my dream to sing
with The Everly Brothers, and I have a cassette of me singing So Sad with The
Everly Brothers and it thrills me to this day. So let’s play So Sad.

4. After World War II when 14 and 15 year old kids had nothing to do
but kick a ball around, Lonnie Donnegan came into our lives on the BBC and
Saturday Club on Saturday Morning. He was very influential with us because he
provided a form of music that we could afford. If you had a cheap acoustic
guitar and a washboard then you could put thimbles on your fingers and
replicate the drums, and have a tea chest with a broom handle and a piece of
string for the bass, and you could actually make decent music. So let’s play Rock
Island Line
by Lonnie Donegan.

5. There was a movie out when I was a kid, it was called
Blackboard Jungle. Part of the musical track was this song by Bill Haley & The Comets called Rock Around The Clock. A few days before my fifteenth
birthday, Bill Haley came to Manchester and I got tickets for me and Alan Clarke. We sat in the front row of the balcony and were absolutely blown away by
the energy of The Comets. So why don’t we play, Rock Around The Clock.

6. I’m a lover of harmony. I mean it’s very obvious – I
was in The Hollies, a great harmony band; Buffalo Springfield and The Byrds
were both great harmony bands, but The Beach Boys were something else. I truly
love this song, this is one of the finest songs on record. By The Beach Boys,
it's God Only Knows.

7. I’d like to be a little selfish here. When Stephen
Stills first played me Suite Judy Blue Eyes I couldn’t believe what a great
song it was. It was 7.5 minutes, it was in four movements; a brilliant,
brilliant song.

8. After I joined David and Stephen I kind of put The
Hollies into the back of mind. You certainly don’t talk to your new girlfriend
about your old girlfriend, you know, you just don’t do that. And so I spent
many years kind of pushing them away in my mind. But recently, for the last 10
years I’ve been listening to The Hollies and, man, we were a fine band! Good
harmonies, great energy. I remember this particular song because we had a
manager, Michael Cohen. And he said to us one day, “I have this neighbour, this
friend of mine, and she says that her son writes songs. Do me a favour – she
keeps bugging me – why don’t you do down and just check out this kid.” So we
went to this house and there’s this fourteen or fifteen year old kid and, you know, we
were The Hollies! And we knew we were The Hollies. And I said “OK kid, what
have you got?” And he said, “I’ve got this song and it goes like this…” *sings
first lines of Bus Stop* And we knew The Hollies could cut a great record of
it. So this is Bus Stop.

9. One day [David] Crosby told me that he had just come from a
session at Abbey Road with The Beatles and they pushed two giant speakers left
and right, opposite each ear, sat him in a chair, and David Crosby was one of
the first people ever to hear this song: A Day In The Life.

10.  I’ve
always been a tenacious man. I don’t give up easily. When I’m committed to
something I do it with all my heart. This is a wonderful, wonderful song that
we should all listen to and take to heart, this is Don’t Give Up by Peter
Gabriel.

WILD TALES by Graham Nash is out now. For more information on the book why not follow Penguin on Twitter. For updates from Graham Nash, follow him on Twitter here.

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