Songs For Beginners
Graham Nash is often perceived as the lightweight of Crosby, Stills, and Nash, so it’s surprising how accomplished his 1971 solo debut is; full of solidly written, personal songs that are less cutesy and annoying than you might expect. Several songs are obviously written in the fallout of his relationship with Joni Mitchell, most obviously in ‘I Used To Be A King’, which references Mitchell’s ‘I Had A King’ and The Hollies’ ‘King Midas In Reverse’).
The obvious anthem on the record, and the most Crosby, Stills, and Nash like song, is ‘Chicago’, a political rallying cry which works musically with a dramatic arrangement and gospel flavour. ‘Sleep Song’ is a charming lullaby, with a gorgeous melody, and Nash only accompanied by a cello. The most ambitious track is ‘There’s Only One’, with a big gospel arrangement, sax solo, and choir. But the key track might be ‘I Used To Be A King’, where Nash is emotionally convincing.
Songs For Beginners is an understated record, which can make it come across as underwhelming, but Nash’s songwriting is strong throughout and it stands proudly alongside Crosby and Stills’ first solo releases.