Crosby, Stills and Nash are more than music makers.
They're egg stealers.
At least that's the analogy Graham Nash uses to explain the famous trio.
According to Nash, many years ago David Crosby told him a story he'd been working on about tiny, furry creatures that kept getting stepped on by dinosaurs. Undersized and overmatched, one of the furry creatures in Crosby's story suggests a solution: attacking the dinosaur eggs so future generations of furballs would survive.
"In a way, that's what Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young have been doing all our lives," Nash said by phone on the way to a Toronto tour stop. "We've been stealing the eggs, talking to the children and letting them know how we think it is and showing them our lives in the hope of showing them how (their) lives might be. We're egg stealers."
In nearly 50 years as a musician and more than 40 years playing with Crosby, Stills, Nash and, sometimes, Neil Young, Nash has followed the advice of one of his classic songs, "Teach Your Children," and stolen his share of eggs.
The 67-year-old began his career in England with British Invasion hit-makers ("Bus Stop") the Hollies. He hooked up with the Byrds' Crosby and Buffalo Springfield's Stephen Stills in 1967 to form CSN, and the threesome added on-again off-again member Young in 1969.
Forty years after playing at the original Woodstock festival, CSN continues playing for their original fans - and their children, such as the girl Nash noticed singing along near the front of the stage at a show earlier this week in Toledo, Ohio.
"I stopped the show and said, ‘How old are you?' She said she was 11," Nash recalled. "I asked, ‘How come you know the words to all these songs that were written decades before you were even conceived?' She said, ‘It's my mom and dad.' "
The band's growing fan base has made Nash's role as unofficial band archivist all the more important. Since releasing a three-disc boxed set of his own work in February and compiling the new CSN "Demos" record, Nash has been searching through tapes of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's 1974 stadium tour. That's just for starters. He also is compiling a boxed set for Stills, an album of his own recent solo tour, a live acoustic album featuring material from his 1993 tour with Crosby, and a benefit compilation for the Children's Defense Fund featuring his and Crosby's collaborations with Joni Mitchell, James Taylor and others.
"My life is fine right now because David's not barking at Stephen and Stephen's not barking at David," said Nash, alluding to the band's often volatile co-existence. "I think as we're getting a little older we're recognizing what's really valuable about each of us."
Nash’s devotion to CSN’s legacy helped him embrace their next
recording project: an album of covers masterminded by super-producer
Rick Rubin. Some of that material, including versions of the Grateful
Dead’s “Uncle John’s Band” and the Stones’ “Ruby Tuesday,” has already
made its way onto CSN’s set list.
“Good music gets passed down,” said Nash. “That’s what heirlooms are
about. A good parent will teach you the best things in life and hope
you get on with it and turn your life into something fabulous.”