When Graham Nash releases Songs for Survivors on July 30th -- his first solo record in sixteen years -- it will help the songwriter scratch a long-standing itch. "I've always appreciated what we call in the band, 'the mother ship' -- meaning Crosby, Stills and Nash, or Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young," he says. "When you make records with those guys -- because there are three, or in some cases four, strong writers -- you only really get to have a couple of songs per album. Of course, one writes a lot more than that if one is lucky. So I had this backlog of songs that were driving me crazy, because a song unrecorded is like this unborn child. Yes, the song exists, but until it's recorded and is affecting people's hearts and minds, it's not complete to me."
Nash recorded the ten-song album with producer Russell Kunkel, with his son Nathaniel Kunkel engineering, and was joined by a Nashville ensemble put together by the elder Kunkel after he heard a country flavor in some of the songs Nash brought to the recording sessions. "It just seems strange me coming from the North of England," says Nash. "But I really like the simplicity of country music, and I really like its direct connection to the heart. I'm not saying this album's a country album; it's not, but the musicians that played with me had that kind of sensibility."
Included in the batch of songs is a cover of Richard and Linda Thompson's "Pavanne," and Nash's own "Dirty Little Secret," which began as a story about a young girl who was raped but wound up turning the spotlight on the 1921 race riots in Oklahoma. "I was watching 60 Minutes one night and there was a piece on these race riots which had been completely ignored and the truth buried for eighty years," says Nash. "One of the old survivors who was about eighty-two, she said, 'Yeah, man, it's just a dirty little secret.' I went, 'Wow.'"
Nash plans to tour in support of the album this fall and, as always, expects that some incarnation of Crosby, Stills and Nash will get together and work on a new album in the not too distant future. "We just work individually and if [David] Crosby calls up and says, 'I've got a great song here and we listen to it and we think it's good then we'll start a project," he says. "And he'll say, 'What do you have?' and I'll say, 'Well, what does Stephen [Stills] have?' and then we'll just get on with it. With CSN and CSN&Y the best way to ruin everything is to make a plan. It's an interesting sort of relationship with these guys. We don't talk to each other every day, but we certainly talk to each other every week or so. It's very comfortable."
Nash, an avid photographer, will also release a collection of his photography, titled From Eye to Eye, next spring. Encompassing pictures taken over decades, the book will include some of the expected backstage band shots, but the focus is on smaller, more anonymous moments. "I was in Saratoga Springs in New York once and I went into an antique store," says Nash. "The front door was glass and it was being kept open by a large white plaster hand. Somebody had put a picture behind the door of elephants going trunk to tail, and it's just the most surreal picture. That's an example of what appeals to me as a camera man. I don't take pictures of kittens or sunsets or stuff like that."