The fourth track on the landmark 1969 album, Crosby, Stills and Nash, has a special relevance for the three musicians involved - David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash.

Nash tells the story in his memoirs of how, then a member of the hugely successful English pop group, The Hollies, he flew to LA in August 1968, having recognised that his heart and soul were no longer with the band and that he was heading in a new direction. He was also flying out to be with his girlfriend, Joni Mitchell.

The Herald: Nash, Stills and Crosby in 1969Nash, Stills and Crosby in 1969 (Image: Henry Diltz/CORBIS)

In Mitchell's home in Laurel Canyon, two of her friends - Crosby and Stills, both of whom he already knew - were already there. They played for him a new song, You Don't Have to Cry. The song, and their twin harmonies, blew Nash away. He asked them to play it a second time, then a third. On the third go-round he sang along with them. They were all stunned by how amazing it sounded. "Flawless three-part harmony", Nash would say of it.

After a few days, he returned to England to contemplate his new future. Crosby and Stills arrived in November, armed with new songs. Nash quit The Hollies and moved to LA to live with Joni. His future now lay in the States.

"People thought I was insane", Nash, 81, reflected in a recent interview with The Spectator. Easing into a parody of the Mancunian accent - he was raised in Salford but born in Blackpool - he continued: "'Leavin' the Hollies, all that money and all that fame and all them women? Are you crazy?'

Review: Crosby, Stills, and Nash, Clyde Auditorium, Glasgow

"But I had heard David and Stephen and me sing together, and I desperately wanted that sound. I realised I would have to go back to England and leave the Hollies and leave my equipment and leave my money and just come to America and follow that sound. And I did".

And that was how it all started. The debut album, which was released in May 1969, was laden with such classics as Suite: Judy Blue Eyes, Helplessly Hoping, Guinnevere, Long Time Gone, Wooden Ships, and Nash's own Marrakesh Express, and was met by huge critical acclaim.

The Herald: Stephen Stills, Graham Nash and David Crosby - CSN - in action at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall in 2010Stephen Stills, Graham Nash and David Crosby - CSN - in action at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall in 2010 (Image: Martin Shields)

"It was a definite game-changer", Nash wrote in his book, Wild Tales. "You could hear our songs on almost every station in America, out of every student's dorm-room window. We had a huge hit on our hands". 

The next key step in the story CS&N was the beginning of Neil Young's on-off association with them.  Nash was initially hostile to the idea of Young joining, but relented after meeting him.

The new four-piece was one of the hits of the Woodstock festival of August 1969, with an hour-long set that included many of their best-known songs - though Young refused to have his songs recorded or filmed.

Music review: Crosby, Stills & Nash at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

Young, a former bandmate of Stills's in Buffalo Springfield, contributed a number of his songs to the second album, Déjà Vu, which was released - by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - in March 1970. Boasting such high-quality offerings as Young's Helpless, a cover of Joni Mitchell's Woodstock, and Nash's own Teach Your Children and Our House, it deservedly achieved platinum sales status, despite having been recorded against a backdrop of personal difficulties experienced by all four musicians.

As has long been documented, however, relationships within CSN&Y were sometimes combustible. Fired by their successes, all four began to release solo albums at the dawn of the Seventies.

4 Way Street, released in April 1971, was an electrifying double-LP record of their tour of the US in the summer of 1970. Stills had been fired from the group after a gig in Chicago but was quickly reinstated.

Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young went on to have successful solo careers, with Young's being perhaps the one with the highest profile. Crosby and Nash jointly recorded several albums in the Seventies;  American Dream (1988) was the first CSN&Y album in 18 years. In 1999 came another - Looking Forward.

Nash himself has released several well-received solo albums since those early days, starting with Songs from Beginners (1971) and continuing via Reflections (2009) and This Path Tonight (2016) to his latest, Now (2023), which he has described as "the most personal album that I've recorded". 

Over the Years (2018) was an excellent compilation of his work. "At 76 he is staking his claim for greatness with this essential retrospective", enthused one London newspaper.

Old habits. Crosby, Stills and Nash at the Edinburgh Playhouse

Nash, accompanied by guitarist Shane Fontayne and keyboard player Todd Cantwell, both of whom sing harmony with him, is now on tour, playing some of the many songs he has written over the decades. He makes a return to Glasgow on September 21, at the Royal Concert Hall - by a quirk of fate, the night before a gig there by his old band, The Hollies.

Nash has twice been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, first with CS&N and then with The Hollies, and he has twice been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. As David Crosby once remarked of his colleagues, Stephen wrote great rock songs, Nash wrote anthems that the world wanted to sing, and Crosby himself wrotes “the weird s--t”.

The Herald: Graham Nash yells to the crowd after he and David Crosby played an acoustic set for members of Occupy Wall Street in Zuccotti Park, New York City, on November 8, 2011 in New York CityGraham Nash yells to the crowd after he and David Crosby played an acoustic set for members of Occupy Wall Street in Zuccotti Park, New York City, on November 8, 2011 in New York City (Image: Mario Tama/Getty Images)David Crosby died last January, aged 81. His friendship with Nash had ended after the publication in 2013 of Nash's candid memoir, Wild Tales. In the recent Spectator interview Nash said that news of Crosby's death had hit him hard: "It was insanely hard for me, of course. He was my best friend for many years".

The pair had been working towards a reconciliation towards the end of Crosby's life. Nash told The Spectator: "I'd set up a date when we could FaceTime. I waited and waited for the call and it never came, and then he was gone. It's the way life is, y'know".

In an 2018 interview with Uncut magazine, Nash was asked whether CSN&Y had needed tension in order to thrive. "I don't think we needed it, it was just there", he responded. "It would get pretty tense, occasionally. But once again, the music is the most important thing about us. And the truth is that if we never make another note of music again, at least look at what we achieved".

* Graham Nash - Sixty Years of Songs and Stories, GRCH, 7.30pm, September 21.