‘I didn’t know him’: Graham Nash on his initial reaction to the addition of Neil Young in CSNY

When Neil Young was presented as a potential addition to the trio of Crosby Stills and Nash by Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun, Graham Nash admits he had never met the mercurial Buffalo Springfield vet.

“I knew he was a great writer,” Nash tells the Hudson Union Society. “‘Expecting to Fly’ on the [1967] Buffalo Springfield [Again] record was one of the greatest pieces of music ever recorded. But I didn’t know him. I didn’t know if I could go and hang out; I didn’t know if I could tell him my secrets. I didn’t know who he was.”

A morning meeting was arranged on Bleeker Street, Nash adds. “After that breakfast, I would have made him prime minister of Canada! He was so funny, and so sure about what he could bring to our band.” Namely, an edgy complexity: “The first Crosby Stills and Nash record was kind of sunny, kind of acoustic, kind of gentle, you know? But Neil steps up, and all of a sudden, it’s darker and it’s more intense, right?”

Then there was the way he interacted with Stills, who had shared a previous stint with Young in Buffalo Springfield. One of the most remarkable things, Nash says, was “the way that Stephen and Neil would converse with their guitars. Neil would play something, he’d play eight bars of this,” Nash adds, “and then Stephen would say: ‘Oh, yeah, motherfucker? Well, try this!’”

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