Great Reissues: Graham Nash

If time, money, and technical expertise were no constraint (ha!), I think my dream job would be putting together reissues. Putting the lost gems of yesteryear together with the artwork, bonus tracks, and liner notes they deserve is a record store nerd's dream. Of course, this dream job of mine is already problematic, since the CD is fast falling by the wayside while the world (myself included) adopts the immaterial mp3 as their listening mode of choice. How do you put lush packaging in a small digital file? Also problematic is the fact that the good folks at Rhino have mastered the art of the reissue, the latest evidence of which is their treatment of Graham Nash's 1971 solo outing Songs For Beginners. There's a bonus DVD of a new super hi-fi mix and a slew of extras, and the sleeve art is lovely, but this is the type of album that truly stands on its original merits. A solo disc in name only, the supporting cast is stellar: Rita Coolidge, Jerry Garcia, Phil Lesh, Dave Mason, Neil Young and David Crosby among others are a near heavely choir. The strength of the songwriting is well-documented, and the sound, like Nash himself, is the sweeter ingredient from CSN&Y. Of course "Simple Man" is here, as well as my favorite "Better Days", and the hit "Chicago", which despite being about long-ago controversies seems to sync up well with the heated politcal air we currently find ourselves in. I listened to this disc several times on my recent trip to San Antonio. The air was warm and breezy as I pottered around the River Walk with my Ipod, and there was something intangibly perfect about these eleven songs in that space and time (and admittedly the six pack of Lone Star didn't hurt). Spend a little time with this album, and I have a hunch you'll also find some unexpected nook where it fits perfectly.

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