Record #259: Graham Nash – Songs for Beginners (1971)

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Following the hige success of Crosby Stills Nash & Young’s Deja Vuevery. Single. Member of CSNY put out a solo record, and every one of them was well received.

Stephen Stills’ debut was a powerhouse of star studded folky pop rock, I’ve only heard Crosby’s once so I have nothing to say about it, and Neil Young’s After The Gold Rush remains one of the finest country-tinged rock records of all time.

But Songs for Beginners is a little deceptive. Sure, there’s some of the pastoral family pop that littered Nash’s tracks on Deja Vu, but for most of the album, Nash is kind of…miffed. Protesty even.

“Military Madness” opens the album, offering the understatedly heartbreaking line, “the army had my father and my mother was having me.” Don’t make the mistake of thinking it still isn’t a catchy pop song though, because it definitely is. Most of the album is catchy pop songs—even the more morose tracks. Because let’s be honest: if Nash’s gift to the world isn’t his mastery of melody, what is it? CSNY may have worked best as a unit, but Songs for Beginners is where Nash really shines.

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