Watch Graham Nash’s Moving Solo Acoustic Take On CSNY’s ‘Ohio’
See Willy perform the Neil Young-penned protest anthem on The Howard Stern Show.
By Nate Todd Feb 2, 2023 • 11:49 am PST
Today is Graham Nash’s 81st birthday. Born Graham William Nash in Blackpool, England, Nash came into the public eye as a member of the British Invasion group The Hollies. Graham distinguished himself with his crystal-clear tenor as well as his songwriting prowess.
The singer-songwriter, however, felt his songs were not particularly well received in the setting of The Hollies. After a fateful musical run-in with David Crosby and Stephen Stills — where the musicians realized their voices blended magically — Nash quit The Hollies and co-founded Crosby, Stills & Nash in 1968. Neil Young would join not long after the trio released their 1969 self-titled debut album.
With four of the greatest songwriters of all time in the band, CSNY had no shortage of material and began working on their debut album, Déjà Vu, which arrived in March 1970. A song Graham wrote while he was still in The Hollies, “Teach Your Children,” was released as a single in May 1970, around the same time the horrific Kent State massacre took place where the Ohio National Guard opened fire on protesters opposing the bombing of Cambodia in conjunction with the Vietnam War. Four students were killed. David Crosby would show news of the massacre to Neil Young, inspiring him to write the protest anthem, “Ohio.”
“The way I recall it,” Crosby wrote in the liner notes to the 1991 CSN box set, “I was with Neil at a friend’s house and handed him Life magazine with the Kent State photos. He was silent for a long time, then picked up his guitar and twenty minutes later had this song.”
Croz then called Graham, who was in Los Angeles, and told him to book a studio immediately. After recording the song, David Crosby was so moved he broke down in tears. While Nash’s “Teach Your Children” was enjoying hit status, CSNY insisted that “Ohio” be released immediately.
“…we knocked [“Teach Your Children”] right off the charts with our own song,” Crosby wrote, “and Nash never said one word about it, to his great credit. He knew how important it was that this song be out there.”
In a 2013 appearance on The Howard Stern Show, Graham Nash tells the story of “Ohio” before offering a performance of the song. To celebrate Graham Nash’s birthday today, watch him deliver a moving solo acoustic “Ohio” below:
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