Graham Nash - Live: Songs for Beginners and Wild Tales

by Kevin Wierzbicki

As far as his solo work goes, many Graham Nash fans are most enamored with his first two albums, Songs for Beginners and Wild Tales. After decades of enjoying the original studio albums fans now have a chance to revisit these great records here where Nash plays both albums in their entirety and in order. Songs for Beginners came out in 1971 and it is a reflection of the times, when the Vietnam War was raging and when there was civil unrest in the United States, the adopted home of Nash, a native Briton. The anti-war cut "Military Madness" opens the Songs for Beginners portion of the show and played live it is a little punchier. Many songs here boost Nash's gentle arrangements; "Better Days" with more forceful guitar, "I Used to Be a King" brings the pedal steel part to the foreground and the hopeful "Chicago/We Can Change the World" is delivered with even more passion than the original. Some songs retain their original quietness though, with "Wounded Bird," "Be Yourself" and the lullaby-like "Sleep Song" being examples. The Wild Tales portion of the show begins with the title cut and fans will notice that the song has been updated from the original, a little rockier and a little less ominous. The country-flavored "Hey You (Looking at the Moon)" sounds more like something Nash's pal Neil Young would do; "You'll Never Be the Same" is seriously countrified here too with pedal steel being the lead instrument. Nash is back to rocking, a little bit cryptically, on "And so it Goes" and fully demonstrating his pop sensibilities on "Oh! Camil" and the sublime "I Miss You" which is just Graham singing and playing the piano. The whole program is a vivid testament of Nash's songwriting ability as these 50-year-old songs hold up nicely today.


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