Game-Changers: Graham Nash (The 2016 NAMM Show)


Singer-songwriter and musical icon Graham Nash inspired the audience at “Breakfast of Champions” during the 2016 NAMM Show. NAMM President and CEO Joe Lamond interviewed Nash about his first guitar, the importance of music education in the schools and why he decided to uproot his life to join what was then a little musical startup: Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Nash also received NAMM’s 2016 Music for Life Award.

Here are Nash’s highlights from that interview:

On following your instincts
"My mother’s advice to me as a child was, ‘You’re a decent person. Follow your heart. It will tell you where to go.’ When I had heard me and David and Stephen sing together for very the first time in Joni [Mitchell’s] living room, I knew that my world had changed. And I realized whatever sound Crosby, Stills & Nash has was born in 1 minute. One minute! It didn’t take us months. One minute—seriously! As soon as I heard that vocal sound, I knew that I had to go back to England and totally undo my entire life. I left my band, my bank account, my instruments, my friends following that sound. And I think I made the right decision."

On collaborating with other musicians long-term
"I’ve had one simple thing in my mind all the time: The music is by far the most important part of our relationship. And we’ve all known it. Have we fought? Yes. Have we loved each other? Yes. Have we made great music? I think, yes. Music is the essence of what we do. That’s the most important thing. And I will never change my mind about what I want. When you show me your best, bring it every day."

On recording technology
"My first recording experience was on two tracks. Mono, right? Two tracks, mono—how do you do that? And now you can have 1,000 tracks in your phone. The truth is no amount of technology can make a bad song into a good song. You have to start with a good song."

On the importance of music education in the schools
"It’s scientifically proven that if there is music in the school curriculum, kids are less likely to get into gangs. They’re less likely to bully. They’re more likely to feel better about themselves. They’re more likely to make friends and not get into gangs and be a decent student.

"Children are 25 percent of our population, but they’re 100 percent of our future."