Singer's project takes him behind the music.Byline: Fred Crafts The Register-Guard
On a gloomy winter day in 1968, Graham Nash's impromptu shopping expedition brought an unexpected bonus: a hit song.
"I'd taken my girlfriend, Joni Mitchell, to breakfast at a delicatessen on Ventura Boulevard Ventura Boulevard is one of the primary east-west thouroughfares in the San Fernando Valley; as it was originally a part of the El Camino Real (the trail between Spanish missions), Ventura Boulevard is the oldest route in the San Fernando Valley. It was also U.S. in Los Angeles Los Angeles (lôs ăn`jələs, lŏs, ăn`jəlēz'), city (1990 pop. 3,485,398), seat of Los Angeles co., S Calif.; inc. 1850. ," the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is a museum in Cleveland, Ohio, United States, dedicated to recording the history of some of the best-known and most influential artists, producers, and other people who have in some major way influenced the music industry, particularly in member says by phone from New York City New York City: see New York, city.
New York City
City (pop., 2000: 8,008,278), southeastern New York, at the mouth of the Hudson River. The largest city in the U.S. . "And about four or five stores down was this antique shop antique shop n → tienda de antigüedades
antique shop antique n → magasin m d'antiquités
antique shop antique n where she saw this vase that she wanted.
"She bought it. We took it home. And as we walked through the front door, I said, `You know, I'll light a fire, and why don't you put some flowers in the vase that you just bought.' And I thought, `Wow, that's an interesting concept.' '
Ninety minutes later, he finished the song "Our House."
The song, a 1970 hit for Crosby, Stills & Nash, is included in Nash's lavish coffeetable book, "Off the Record: Songwriters on Songwriting' (Andrews Mc- Meel Publishing, $49.95). In it, he explains not only how he wrote "Our House" but also how hits were composed by Carole King (`I Felt the Earth Move'), John Sebastian (`Sum- mer in the City'), Paul Williams Paul Williams is the name of several musicians:
* It may violate Wikipedia's policy on .
* Its neutrality or factuality may be compromised by weasel words.
* It does not cite any references or sources. (`White Rabbit') and Ben E. King (`Stand by Me'). has multiple issues:
In all, 25 of the most famous popular songs of the rock era.
Each song's origin is re- vealed through interviews (conducted by Adam Mitchell) that not only recall pop music nostalgia, but also ruminate ru·mi·nate
v. ru·mi·nat·ed, ru·mi·nat·ing, ru·mi·nates
1. To turn a matter over and over in the mind.
2. To chew cud.
v.tr. on the meaning of it all. It's almost as if the songwriters were telling their story directly to you.
Which they do, verbally, on the two CDs that accompany the book.
Altogether, "Off the Record" - with its photos, interviews, CDs and lyrics - is an impressive package.
Start with the lyrics. The composers themselves have handwritten hand·write
tr.v. hand·wrote , hand·writ·ten , hand·writ·ing, hand·writes
To write by hand.
[Back-formation from handwritten.]
Adj. 1. them and dressed them up with colors and illus- trations.
In truth, the lyrics are the reason for the book. It's an outgrowth of Nash's "Manuscripts Originals" project, which sells original, illustrated lyrics for about $1,000 each.
The money goes to child welfare projects, to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and to the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
"It's a wonderful project all around," Nash says.
A moment of serendipity serendipity
happy finding of an unexpected object or solution while searching for something else.
As often happens in Nash's life, the idea for the project occurred to him while he doing something else.
"I was asked to give one of my photographs to a benefit for a school after a hurricane almost destroyed the (Hawaiian) island that I lived on," Nash recalls. "I gave them a photograph of my girlfriend, Joni Mitchell. I wanted to make it more special, so I wrote the words to `Our House' around the outside edge of the photograph, and it sold immediately.
`And I began to realize that this was a very valuable tool."
After getting support from key songwriters, Nash formed an organization to oversee the project while he is on a tour, such as the one that will bring Crosby, Stills & Nash to Eugene on Monday. The book, Nash says, is the first of a series.
"The art of songwriting is so mysterious to people that it's nice to give them a glimpse as to how the particular 25 songwriters in the book dealt with it," Nash says. "Great songs touch people's souls. Music has a great ability to heal and to soothe. People find great solace in a great piece of music.
`We all have musical signposts in our life that when you hear a piece of music, even years later, it will send you right back to that particular moment."
Nash's personal "signpost" songs are Bill Haley's "Rock Around the Clock," Elvis Presley's "Heartbreak Hotel" and the Everly Brothers' "Bye Bye Love."
` `Bye Bye Love' changed my life completely," Nash recalls about the day he first heard it as a teen-ager in Manchester, England. "I remember going down to a dance, and walking across the floor.
`A slow dance had just finished - `You Send Me' by Sam Cooke - and `Bye Bye Love' came on. I had never heard two people sing together so beautifully - never so moved by a rock 'n' roll rock 'n' roll: see rock music. song as I was by `Bye Bye Love.' I wanted to do that."
Songs have birth in dreams
If the book reveals anything about songwriting, it is that the process is confounding confounding
when the effects of two, or more, processes on results cannot be separated, the results are said to be confounded, a cause of bias in disease studies.
confounding factor , even to those who do it for a living. Even more surprising, though, is the number of songwriters who don't read or write music.
"David (Crosby) doesn't. Stephen (Stills) doesn't. Neil (Young) doesn't. Joni (Mitchell) doesn't. Jackson (Browne) doesn't. And Bonnie bon·ny also bon·nie
adj. bon·ni·er, bon·ni·est Scots
1. Physically attractive or appealing; pretty.
2. Excellent. (Raitt) doesn't. Amazing, eh?" says Nash, including himself in that company.
To keep track of his songs until somebody can write them down, Nash uses "a good memory, note pads and just a brain that works."
While Nash often "composes" a song on a guitar or a piano, he writes "even if I have nothing (to play on). I have a whole orchestra in my head. You should see inside here; it's quite interesting."
Are there tricks to writing songs?
"No. I just think you have to strike when the iron's hot. If an idea's coming to me, I find it better to chase it down."
Often, songs occur to Nash - and to others in the book - in a dreamlike state that occurs just before sleep, but when the brain is still active.
"That's the time that Crosby refers to as `the elves taking over the workshop.' ' Nash says.
Once a song announces itself, Nash says they often almost write themselves.
` `Our House' took me an hour and a half. `Just a Song Before I Go' took me about 40 minutes. But `Cathedral' took me four years," Nash says.
"It's a process that I don't question. I'm just very pleased that it still continues for me."
Fred Crafts can be reached at 338-2575 or email@example.com.
Crosby, Stills & Nash
What: David Crosby, Stephen Stills Stephen Arthur Stills (born January 3, 1945) is an American guitarist and singer/songwriter best known for his work with Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills & Nash (and Young). and Graham Nash, one of America's most influential rock bands
When: 7 p.m. Monday
Where: Cuthbert Amphitheater, Alton Baker Park Alton Baker Park is located in Eugene, Oregon, United States, near Autzen Stadium. It features duck ponds, bicycle trails, and a dog park, and directly touches the Ferry Street Bridge. , off Leo Harris Leo A. Harris (August 6 1904 – April 22 1990) was an American college football player and coach, and the first athletic director for the University of Oregon. Playing and coaching career Parkway
How much: $46 through the Hult Center box office, 682-5000
GuardLine: To hear some of their music, call GuardLine at 485-2000 from a touch-tone phone and request category 3733
David Crosby (left) and Graham Nash will be joined by Stephen Stills on Monday night at the Cuthbert Amphitheater.