Graham Nash and photographer Joel Bernstein have previously teamed up on box sets for Nash and his CSN band mate David Crosby. Now they’ve begun work on a set for the third member of CSN, Stephen Stills, Nash tells Rolling Stone.
“In a way Stephen is the wrong person to ask about Stephen,” Nash says. “I’m lucky that I’m outside of Stephen so that I can look at his music and his trajectory as an artist more than he can.”
Nash has started going through more than 40 years of archives from Stills’ career, from Buffalo Springfield and his CSN days through his solo work and rarer works such as 1972’s Manassas. “I’ve got a list of every single thing that Stephen ever recorded and there’s some wild stuff in there,” Nash says. “You’ve got to listen to it all because you can’t in a year after the album comes out go, ‘Shit, look what we missed – Stephen and Hendrix.’ You have to listen to it all and then you go, ‘Okay, what are the important milestones in Stephen’s career? What should we start it with? What’s the last thing that he recorded so what’s gonna finish it?’ And then we start fleshing it out in between.”
Given Stills’ massive body of work, creating a completed discography is in itself a massive undertaking. If that’s completed soon, Nash says the set could be out next year. Nash points out it took a year and a half for his set and two years for Crosby’s – though Stills would love it faster.
“Stephen would like it out tomorrow and his manager would like it out yesterday, but we have to take our time because this is a piece of history,” Nash says. “And I want to look at Stephen’s trajectory as a writer and a musician and a craftsman.”
Nash is taking his role as curator very seriously. “I think I have a better objective point of view than maybe Stephen does, although I always listen to him because he’s gonna go, ‘Hey, I remember a take of ‘Blackbird’ that I did,'” he says. “And you gotta listen to that because I want to please Stephen more than anybody, but I have this ability to step back and look at Stephen’s body of work and put it into a cohesive form.”