Graham Nash's 1971 album "Songs for Beginners" could have been made in 2021

I am a simple man
So I sing a simple song
I never been so much in love
And never hurt so bad at the same time

It’s 1971. Graham Nash has become one of the biggest rock stars in the world. A few years earlier, he left the Hollies and joined up to form a new band with David Crosby and Stephen Stills. Their first self-titled album is an all-time classic.

The threesome follows-up by adding Neil Young to the band which leads to another classic, 1970’s “Deja Vu.” The album sold more than eight million copies. Included were Nash legendary songs “Teach Your Children” and “Our House.”

The band was so big that concert promoter Bill Graham called them the American Beatles. What was next for the foursome? Solo albums! Stills and Young made new albums in 1970. In May of 1971, it was Graham Nash’s turn.

Writers tend to write about what they know. That’s exactly what Nash did in writing the songs that made up “Songs for Beginners.” His relationship with Joni Mitchell had come to end. The world was dealing with the war in Viet Nam and the presidency of Richard Nixon. Those topics dominate the tunes of “Song for Beginners.” It’s an album about politcal unrest and lost love. He even wrote songs for his bandmate Stills, who was dealing with his own romantic issues with singers Judy Collins and Rita Coolidge.

It wasn’t only the topics and lyrics that made this such a fine record. The melodies are very sweet. They stick in your head. Even if you don’t know the words, you can hum along to the song. When you add it all together, it leads to an excellent album.

When I listened to the album yesterday, I realized that it could have easily been produced in 2021 instead of 1971. The topics that were relevant than still are today. Who hasn’t had a romance that has gone bad? Even Nash himself, rebounded from Joni into a marriage that lasted more than thirty-five years….and then that ended. The names may be different but the songs still fit. As for the political tunes, let’s not rehash the last four years.

“Songs for Beginners” is an album that is timeless. If you liked it fifty years ago, you’ll like it today.

Related Post: Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young- Five decades of fighting

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