Wild Tales: A Rock N’ Roll Life by Graham Nash (4 out of 5)
Known and loved for many years as a member of the Hollies and as a member of the highly respected and adored Crosby, Stills, Nash, & (sometimes) Young, Graham Nash, much as David Crosby and Stephen Stills before him, has his fair share of memories, stories, and vivid recollections to share with his many fans. As I questioned with all memoirs written by the truly inebriated, drugged up, and tripped out rock stars of years past and years present, how can this dude remember this much? Compared to the wild children that were Motley Crue, I don’t ,or didn’t, expect to have questions about how he remembered. But I ask– how? Regardless, it doesn’t matter in the end because you have a truly engaging, wonderfully written autobiography here. I confess to liking the band for many years, largely due to an ex who really got me into them in a big way. However, when he left, so did my desire to listen to their records. Years later, I rediscovered them and when I’m in one of those introspective, sit on the porch and drink Angry Orchard days, they are the first band I turn to. Compared to Crosby’s book (no slouch on the drinking/drug taking/carousing troubadour days himself) which takes no prisoners and pulls no punches, and Stills’ book which was more of a reflective look back at some crazy adventures in his life, this book falls into the “simply a great read, not due to any one or two factors”. It’s well written, well thought out, and it isn’t written by someone who has an agenda in retelling his life story, that of his love of music, as well as tumultuous times with the band and the individual volcanoes that were involved in CSN&Y. His true love of music shines through the entire memoir.
From his low-class childhood in England, to becoming a member of the Hollies, a lover of Joni Mitchell, and finally, to his brightest shine- as a member of CSN&Y, Graham Nash tells it like it is. You can feel his love of the music burning through every single page. From the wild days, full of addictions, sex, and rock n’ roll (of course), there’s a feeling that for Nash, it goes beyond that into the more important things in life- life, love, family, and of course, the music. I haven’t read a book like this in a long time where there’s a fair deal of importance placed on those matters, and not just on the wild side. Which is ironic, because he titled the book WILD TALES. There are some, but nowhere near the David Crosby bio. The David Crosby bio also never addressed the most important thing- what’s with the walrus mustache???? Sorry, I got sidetracked there. When I got through with Nash’s book, I had a number of questions about things I had read. I didn’t have that with the other biographies. I would have to put his autobiography up there with Keith Richards. Yes, THAT notorious riff-raff himself. Because as I tell everyone who asks about the Keith Richards book, there is a fair share of excess, political activism (another thing that Nash was very heavily involved in, and which I had forgotten about until reading this), etc. However, there is also a lot of musical knowledge in those pages. I was completely stunned by how much of the Keith Richards bio was about musical blues and its history, not to mention how to play some of those infamous guitar riffs. In Nash’s book, you walk away learning a hell of a lot about music. There is a lot of of knowledge imparted to the reader by Mr. Nash. Another bonus!
Overall, I can’t give it anything less than four stars. I really expected it to be a three star book, until one of my regular customers and friends told me it was amazing. So I gave it a try. And I agree. Amazing eye into the whirlwind of the sixties and beyond (yes, there are some never before told stories that are eye-opening and some are just wild, maybe that’s where the title is from). Prepare to read an articulate, absorbing look at an oft turbulent musical career and personal life as well. Definitely worth the read.
*I received a copy of this book from BLOGGING FOR BOOKS, in return for a honest review*.
~ by generationgbooks on October 29, 2014.