The King of the Strip: Elvis in Vegas

Although Elvis Presley would later become as influential in Las Vegas as Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack who ruled the flashy entertainment scene in the 1950s and early 1960s, Presley’s first reception in the Nevada city of garish neon, glittering showgirls, and 24-hour gambling was far from a triumph for the hip-swiveling young star from Memphis.

In fact, Elvis’ debut in the 1,000-seat showroom of the refurbished New Frontier casino on April 23, 1956 was a flop. Backed by his three-piece group, guitarist Scotty Moore, bassist Bill Black, and drummer D.J. Fontana, Presley performed a 12-minute set consisting of just four songs – “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Long Tall Sally,” “Blue Suede Shoes,” and “Money Honey”.

The critics were savage. “Elvis Presley, coming in on a wing of advance hoopla, doesn’t hit the mark here,” wrote the critic for Variety. “For the teenager, he’s a whiz; for the average Vegas spender, a fizz”.

Meanwhile Newsweek contended the 21-year-old rock and roller was “like a jug of corn liquor at a champagne party”.

However, 13 years later, when Presley returned, he initiated a casino career that would make him a Vegas legend, transform the way entertainment was presented in the city, and create a local industry of Elvis impersonators and Presley-themed wedding chapels that is still operating today.

In his latest book, Elvis in Vegas: How the King Reinvented the Vegas Show, author Richard Zoglin details Presley’s casino showroom concerts that helped revitalize his career, as well as those near his death that demonstrated what a bloated, tragic figure the King of Rock, who died at age 42, had become.

“Elvis had a huge impact on Las Vegas,” writes Zoglin. “It raised the stakes, both in terms of money (his $125,000-a-week salary was a record at the time, soon to be surpassed) as well as production scale and promotional hype.” It also attracted a new breed of middle-class, mom-and-pop pilgrims from Presley’s vast, now multi-generational fan base, who traveled to see the King as well as play the slots. Vegas began to shed its seedy mobster trappings and morph into a family-friendly destination spot with a corporate sheen”.

In a review of Zoglin’s book in The Wall Street Journal, Eddie Dean says while Elvis definitely benefitted from his residencies, Las Vegas might have been even a bigger winner. “Las Vegas may have gotten more in the bargain than did its most enduring celebrity, who is still a presence there: from the scores of Elvis impersonators to shrines like the Graceland Wedding Chapel, where fans the world over come to tie the knot”. 

So what is Presley’s true Vegas legacy? In Zoglin’s view, it’s the way he opened up Sin City to a broader range of music styles and ultimately to a new sort of spectacle. “Elvis created the model for a different kind of Vegas show: no longer an intimate nightclub encounter for an audience of a few hundred, but a big-star extravaganza, playing to thousands,” Zoglin contends.

My Ultimate Elvis Live Show

  • That’s All Right
  • Trouble/Guitar Man
  • Heartbreak Hotel
  • Runaway
  • Polk Salad Annie
  • Return to Sender
  • Hard Headed Woman
  • Little Sister
  • The Wonder of You
  • A Big Hunk o’Love
  • I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry
  • You Gave Me a Mountain
  • Fever
  • T-R-O-U-B-L-E
  • In the Ghetto
  • Suspicious Minds
  • Burning Love
  • A Little Less Conversation
  • If I Can Dream
  • Hound Dog
  • Jailhouse Rock

See Hillary Sign. See Hillary Run?

This article 1st appeared in The Prices Do DC 6.17.2014

If you live in the DC area you probably don’t know Sue Kezurer Zuckerman, but if you knew Suzie like I know Suzie, you would know 3 things – she’s my wife’s college roommate, she and her husband Marc were visiting us in Crystal City last weekend, and she loves Hillary Clinton.

That’s why you could find Sue, Marc, my wife Judy, and I walking to the Costco store in Pentagon City Saturday morning to stand in line to see Mrs. Clinton, who was scheduled to begin signing copies of her new book Hard Choices at 11 a.m.

Arriving at the Costco parking lot shortly after 9 a.m., it was apparent that this wouldn’t be your normal book signing. There was the crowd. Lines of more than 700 people, many with a copy (or copies of) Hard Choices in hand, were already established alongside the entire western side of the store.

Then there was the bus in the parking lot. The red, white and blue bus with a big picture of Hillary on the back where you see her texting with the words Please Don’t Text and Drive. On the sidethe messages Ready for Hillary and Join the Movement weredisplayed in giant type. Outside the bus, dozens of people were stacking tables with “I’m Ready For Hillary” buttons and signs. Others were rolling up posters of Hillary to distribute to those who wanted them. Still others were huddled in small groups, getting further instructions for the day.

Now authors don’t travel in tour buses with entourages. Rock stars, sports teams, and political candidates do. And that’s the thing. Very few people in the Costco crowd Saturday were there to see Hillary Clinton the author. They were there to see the Hillary Clinton whom almost everyone expects will gain the Democratic nomination in 2016 and try to become the first woman in American history to hold the office of President of the United States.

We were greeted by Megan Collins from Orange County, California, who is a sophomore in college here in the DC area. She offered us our “I’m Ready for Hillary” stickers (which as an old practicing journalist I declined) and explained the procedures for the day.

I asked Megan why she was working for the as-of-yet-not-declared candidate. “We’re here to show Hillary today that we have a number of people supporting her if she decides to run. And we’ll still be here for her in 2016.”

Megan said that while she endorses Mrs. Clinton for her political views, she also has a more personal reason to join the “I’m Ready for Hillary” campaign. Both of her parents are big Bill and Hillary Clinton supporters. When she was 8 months old, Megan had her picture taken with Mrs. Clinton. Later, her mother said, “maybe you’ll be working with her when you’re older.”

“And here I am,” she said with a wide smile. “I think it’s pretty revolutionary for a former First Lady to go out and make a name for herself. Not only is she a strong representative for the female community, she is a strong representative for America.”

But, of course, not everyone is as admiring of Mrs. Clinton as Megan or my wife’s roommate, Sue.

Take John Lipnicki of neighboring Vienna. The 69-year-old business owner was on the sidewalk next to the Costco, brandishing a large yellow, black, and red sign which attacked the former Secretary of State for Benghazi and claimed she had a legacy “written in blood from Arkansas to the White House.”

“I’m here to let people know that there is another side to Hillary,” Lipnicki said. “If she wants to be president, what she did or did not do will impact America for years to come. She’s no leader. Where was she when we needed her as secretary of state?”

And Lipnicki was not alone in his opposition to Clinton. At the front entrance of the store, the Republican National Committee had unleashed it new anti-Clinton weapon – a volunteer NRC worker in an orange-and-white squirrel costume wearing a dark blue t-shirt with the slogan “Another Clinton in the White House NUTS” written in red and white letters on the front.

Other RNC volunteers were on hand to distribute literature accusing Clinton of numerous failings including, of course, Benghazi, and her most recent statements that she and Bill were “dead broke” when they left the White House. For his part, the squirrel remained silent, letting his T-shirt proclaim his message. He (or she) did pose for pictures so that message could spread from Costco via Facebook, Twitter, and other social media.

Meanwhile, back in line, people passed the time by chatting – not surprisingly – about politics, government, and the Clintons.

Laird White from Arlington told us why he was spending 2-and-a-half hours here on a sunny Saturday. “I’m looking forward to 2016 and I’m hoping that somebody competent stays in the White House,” he said. White also said he had a suggestion he wanted to deliver to Mrs. Clinton. He believes he knows who should be her running mate – current senator and former Gov. Mark Warner from Virginia.  “If she does choose Warner, then I can take credit for the pick,” he said with a laugh.

For her part, Suzie was having a hard time keeping her excitement in check. “What should I say her? Don’t you think she’s wonderful? She’s so great.”

Suddenly, she hit me on the shoulder. “Look, there’s Bill Clinton. Right behind us.

I turned around. Obviously, it wasn’t Bill Clinton, but for once Suzie was almost right. The man did resemble the former president. Especially at a quick glance. The Clinton look-alike turned out to be 59-year-old Rick Meidlinger from northern Virginia. He admitted this wasn’t the first time he had turned heads at a Clinton book signing. A few years ago, when Bill Clinton had appeared at the same Costco to sign one of his own books, Meidlinger had attended.

“I was sitting on that loading dock over there and a woman came over and said, ‘If I can’t get a picture with him, I can get a picture with you.'” Then others did the same thing.

I spent the next hour or so talking to Meidlinger, who, although he wasn’t the former president, did have a really interesting story behind his reason for getting Mrs. Clinton’s signature. Autograph gathering was something he had started with his younger daughter, who had a passion for baseball that she developed while playing sandlot ball with the boys in her neighborhood. She played Little League with the boys; then continued on to pitch with them on the high school baseball team. She had thrown a perfect game and been featured in a section of Sports Illustrated. Later, she made the US Women’s Baseball Team, but once it was decided that baseball wouldn’t be an Olympic sport, she gave up actively participating in the game. But she and her Dad continued collecting autographs.

Finally, after noon, we entered the store. In order to see Mrs. Clinton you had to be a Costco member. Judy and I had bought a membership the day before for $55. But since we had only 2 cards, that meant that only Judy and Sue could continue through the line. When we had purchased our membership, I told Dave, one of the store managers, about my plans to blog about the event. He suggested that we not carry anything in to the signing, since it would have to be stored and checked. So Judy and Sue gave their pocketbooks and small beach chairs to Marc, who would hold them, while I wandered around the store trying to capture more details for this post.

I will let Judy describe what happened next:

Sue and I were given yellow wristbands after we showed our 2 Costco membership cards. We proceeded following the yellow arrows down the cement floor aisles blocked off for the signing. Store employees had constructed a giant wall using slats of water bottles for a base and slats of paper towels for height to secure the signing area.

Since we weren’t carrying anything (not even a cell phone or a pre-purchased book), we were told to take a shortcut across 3 aisles of waiting Clinton fans, where we were scanned by Hillary’s security and lead to the inner signing area.  

Sue meantime had asked me at least a dozen times if I was going to get her a book for Hillary to sign. I repeatedly assured her they would have books inside the maze that we could purchase and finally asked the security people just to assure her. 

Sue asked me what I was going to say Hillary and, after thinking about it, I said I would simply thank her for all she has done for us (women). 

As we rounded the final aisle, there she was, elevated on a platform, surrounded by hundreds of books and many members of her staff and security. 

The people ahead of us had cell phones and were taking pictures while in line. “Oh man,” I said to Sue. “David will be upset that we don’t have our phones to take a picture”  I turned around to Rick, our new friend and Bill Clinton look-alike, and asked him to take a few shots of Hillary signing books and then email them to us. He said he would. 

The line was moving very quickly, but Sue observed that Hillary was shaking hands with every person in line.

“Oh my God Judy, what am I going to say to her.  Doesn’t she look beautiful? I mean really beautiful?” Sue blurted out, obviously awe-struck at finally seeing Hillary up close and personal. 

When it was our turn, three of us were herded up. Hillary shook all three of our hands and we were given a pre-signed book and led out the other side of the signing area. The entire process took less than 20 seconds.

I didn’t get to say “thank you for all you have done,” but we had gotten Sue to meet her political idol.

TV Detective Tackles JFK Conspiracy

This article 1st appeared in The Prices Do DC – 05.07.2013

For 20 years, actor Richard Beltzer, as his character Detective John Munch, has been employing his fictional investigative skills, 1st on Homicide Life on the Streets for 7 years and then on Law and Order: Special  Victims Unit for the past 13 years. In fact, Beltzer holds a TV record for portraying the same Munch character on 11 different shows ranging fromSesame Street to The Wire.

But Beltzer has been using his real-life investigative skills for twice that long, spending the past 40 years trying to unravel the truth behind the assassination of President John Kennedy and the cover-up that Beltzer believes began long before the shots that killed JFK were fired on that sad November, 1963 day in Dallas, Texas.

Last night, Beltzer appeared at the National Press Club to discuss the latest book he co-authored with David Wayne entitled Hit List: An In-Depth Look at the Mysterious Deaths of Witnesses to the JFK Assassination.

Beltzer contends that the JFK hit list contains more than 50 witnesses who died under mysterious circumstances ranging from accused murderer Lee Harvey Oswald (whom Beltzer believes was just a pasty set up by the American government. “He was there, but he didn’t fire a shot.”) to a Dallas stripper with the stage name Delilah, to national correspondent Dorothy Kilgallen, to U.S. Congressman Hale Boggs. “Anyone who had any knowledge was eventually murdered,” Beltzer said. “The sheer number forces us to ask whether their deaths were coincidence?” 

“This is the greatest murder mystery of all time,” Beltzer added. “It’s Sherlock Holmes on speed.”

So how did the cover-up that Beltzer alleges begin? “It was the height of the Cold War. People said ‘Holy shit! Somebody in government killed our president. We have to cover up.” he contends. “I don’t think there is one great big conspiracy, but there are a lot of sharks in the water.”

So who did plot and carry out the Kennedy assassination? “The real question is who didn’t kill him. I know that is glib but there were elements in our government and elements in the mob. President Kennedy was planning many changes,” Beltzer maintains. “But it was 50 years ago. It just goes on and on. There is no reason not to tell the full story now. It’s only the ongoing contempt for the American people and that to me is very, very disturbing.”

Beltzer said that leaders in authority have been able to link the words conspiracy and theory and delusional together. “It’s easy to marginalize people who question authority,” Beltzer said.

Beltzer’s Press Club talk came on the same day Hit List made the New York Times best seller list. This came despite the fact the The Times regularly refuses to review Beltzer’s books on the JFK murder. “The New York Times doesn’t review my books, so, if I may, I say fuck the New York Times,” Beltzer said. “Certain people don’t want people to know what I am saying because it is the truth.”

The Simple Dreams of Linda Ronstadt

This article 1st appeared in the Prices Do DC – 10.15.2013

Many people believe that the rock stars of the late 60s and early 70s, fueled by a diet of drugs, alcohol and adoration, engaged in a decade-long series of wild, sex-filled parties after their sold-out concerts. Linda Ronstadt, one of the most popular singers of that period, admits that while the times could be wild, they were not the same for everyone. “Did I try things? You bet I did,” Ronstadt says. “But my addiction is to reading. I was the girl back in the hotel room reading and knitting”.

Actually reading is much more of the pastime with rockers than you might imagine, Ronstadt explained. “A musician was the one who turned me on to Anna Karenina,” she said speaking recently at the National Book Festival in Washington, DC. “The piano players always read; the drummers not so much. The piano player was the guy who had to calm things down. The lead guitar player was like the high-strung pitcher and the piano player was the catcher”.

Many people believe that the rock stars of the late 60s and early 70s, fueled by a diet of drugs, alcohol and adoration, engaged in a decade-long series of wild, sex-filled parties after their sold-out concerts. Linda Ronstadt, one of the most popular singers of that period, admits that while the times could be wild, they were not the same for everyone. “Did I try things? You bet I did,” Ronstadt says. “But my addiction is to reading. I was the girl back in the hotel room reading and knitting”.

Actually reading is much more of the pastime with rockers than you might imagine, Ronstadt explained. “A musician was the one who turned me on to Anna Karenina,” she said speaking recently at the National Book Festival in Washington, DC. “The piano players always read; the drummers not so much. The piano player was the guy who had to calm things down. The lead guitar player was like the high-strung pitcher and the piano player was the catcher”.

She compared the life of a touring musician to that outlined in seafaring books like those ofHeart of Darkness author Joseph Conrad. “Those books capture how provincial a sailor’s life is. The harbors are the same all over the world. You hang with the same scabby old guys. You don’t go beyond the harbor. Being on tour is very much like that. There’s the bus, and the hotel, and the sound check, and the show, and the dinner, and then the after-dinner playing. And then you do the same thing the next day”.

Ronstadt, now 67 and battling the crippling effects of Parkinson’s disease that has dictated she will never sing in public again, was appearing at the festival to talk about her new memoir Simple Dreams, which focuses on her upbringing in a musical family in Tucson and the evolution of her career.

“My Dad sang these Mexican standards and folk songs,” she told the crowd of fans that packed the huge tent on the National Mall. “I just wanted to be a singer. I didn’t want to be a star”.

Ronstadt first came to national attention with the band the Stone Ponies and their 1967 hit “Different Drum”. She settled in the southern California area and began putting together a new band. She was able to recruit Don Henley on drums, Glen Frey and Bernie Leadon on guitar and Randy Meisner on bass. If those names sound familiar, it might be because those 4 went on to form The Eagles, one of the biggest selling bands of all-time. “They started playing (opening) shows together and regularly blowing me off the stage, but I didn’t care. It was great music and I was loving it,” Ronstadt said.

She says she is still amazed about those days in Los Angeles. When she was 18, she met a singer/songwriter who was one year younger. His name was Jackson Browne. “I was astonished that someone that young could write songs that well. And the 1st guitar player I met was Ry Cooder. He was up on stage playing his ass off like a demon”.

In the 70s, Ronstadt released a series of hits that showcased her versatility such as “Heat Wave”,”Blue Bayou,” “Tumbling Dice” and “You’re No Good”.

She also had a series of boyfriends, including current Oakland Mayor and former California Governor Jerry Brown. But despite the fact that she raised 2 adopted children, she never married. “I didn’t get married. It wasn’t important to me. I was a serial monogamist,” she said with a laugh. Although Ronstadt enjoyed her time in the rock limelight, she actually pulled herself out of the business to devote time to raising her 2 children, who are now 19 and 22.

Ronstadt said she was inspired to write her memoir after reading other such volumes like the one penned by fellow singer Roseanne Cash. “I thought I would like to write a thank you note,” she said. “I wasn’t the most talented singer, but I was one of the most diverse singers. I wanted to write about why these musical choices weren’t arbitrary. And they certainly weren’t career moves”.

She did a series of standards arranged by the late, great Nelson Riddle in the 1980s, predating such singers as Rod Stewart and his American songbook. She followed that with a return to her Mexican roots. “That was music I was passionate about. I had to sing it or I felt I would die,” she said.

There is a belief that all music stars with hit records make millions of dollars. “That just isn’t true,” Ronstadt said. She cited an article on her current book tour that portrayed her as squandering a fortune. “The writer wondered why I couldn’t afford a $20 million house. Oh gee (hitting herself in the head for emphasis), I must have snorted it”.

Ronstadt says the recording industry of her days is a thing of the past. “The record business I knew is completely gone. Now we don’t have any gatekeepers. They knew what a good record was”. Ronstadt says that while she is not against change, “the price we pay may be much too dear for what we lose”.

And while she describes herself as not particularly political, she does have strong feelings about the immigration debate. She contends that like much of America, the golden era of 20th Century music was nurtured by great American immigrant songwriters like George Gershwin. “It was completely created by the fact that we were a nation that was welcoming to immigrants,” Ronstadt said. “We allowed them to come in and find their place. We allowed them to prosper, which is what people from Mexico and Guatemala and El Salvador and Liberia and Libya and all these people would be doing now if we let them. We need to help them find their place. “I don’t know why this country doesn’t learn.”

Of course, she is asked how she feels about the Parkinson’s that has robbed her of her singing voice and forces her to steady herself with the aid of 2 walking sticks. Her succinct answer – no regrets. “I had a great career. I had an unusually long run at the trough,” she says

Wild Tales from Graham Nash of CSN&Y

This article 1st appeared in The Prices Do DC – 10.14.13

If you are a fan of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young you should take a moment and thank Mama Cass Elliot, one of the 2 female singers in the hit-producing 1960s southern California group The Mamas and the Papas. Or at least that is what Graham Nash says. Here is the way Nash tells the story of his 1st meeting with David Crosby, a meeting that led directly to the formation of CSN&Y.

In 1966, Nash, then a member of the British Invasion band The Hollies was in California. He got invited to a studio where the Mamas and the Papas were recording. Nash said he definitely wanted to go. “Like everyone else, I wanted Michelle (the other female singer, the stunning Michelle Phillips) badly,” he says with a wink.

However, Michelle was busy recording a vocal part, so Nash stood outside the studio talking to Cass. Knowing that Nash was close to the Beatles, Cass asked “What do you think John Lennon would think of our music?” she asked.

He said the sardonic, satiric Lennon would probably make fun of it. “She began crying her eyes out; she had such a crush on John,” Nash said. So, feeling badly for what he had said, Nash readily agreed to Cass’ suggestion that he come with her to meet someone she was sure he would like.

When he arrived at the apartment with Cass, he encountered a young man in a blue and white T-shirt, laying on the couch, intently, but effortlessly, separating quality marijuana from stems and seeds, all of which was contained in a shoe box.  “That was the 1st time I ever met David Crosby and it was also the 1st time I ever got high,” Nash says.

It was also the beginning of what Nash calls “the most rewarding and the most difficult relationship” of his life, a life that Nash examines in his just-released memoir Wild Tales, which he talked about recently at an appearance at the Library of Congress. . “I loved him from the moment I met him. He was himself. He was so irreverent,” Nash explains. “I was writing songs with (chords) A, D. and E and I’m out of there. David was writing such intricate chord patterns. He had the words cognitive dissonance and antithesis in the same song lyric. I was writing ‘I want you now.'”

Crosby, then a member of the Byrds, introduced Nash to Stephen Stills, who at the time was a member of the Buffalo Springfield along with the enigmatic Neil Young. The trio decided to see how they would sound together. They started with a Stills song “You Don’t Have to Cry”. After hearing the song, Nash asked Stills and Crosby to sing it one more time. “We then hit that 3-part harmony and we all started laughing. It was great. What a thing to hear. Our sound was born in 40 seconds,” Nash said.

“From the moment I heard me and David and Stephen sing, I wanted that sound,” Nash said. “So what the hell was I supposed to do? I left my wife. I left my band. I left England and came to America”.

But Nash, who will be 72 on his next birthday, readily credits England, his family, and his friend (and later Hollies band mate) Allen Clarke (whom he 1st met in school as a 6-year-old) with his musical beginnings.

“I have a vivid memory of blackout curtains (used in British homes during World War II),” Nash said. “After the war, it was a very strange existence. As youngsters we had nothing to do. At the time, you were supposed to grow up and do what your Dad did. But my mother and father never let me fall for that. I knew from the age of 13 that I wanted to be a rock and roll musician. I’ve actually been a photographer longer than I have been a musician. But I knew I couldn’t get girls with a camera. That wasn’t happening. Nobody was saying that’s a sexy camera. But a guitar …”

One of Nash’s greatest influences were Don and Phil Everly. He and Clark found out they were performing in their city. “It was April, 1960 and we were dying to met them,” Nash said. So they went to the show and then staked out the hotel where they were sure the Everly Brothers were staying. Finally, at 1:20 a.m., the brothers came down the street. Nash and Clark approached them. “They were great. They talked to us for 20 minutes. We were so happy. In many ways, we are all trying to touch the flame of that which we admire”.  At the time, Nash never imagined that over the years he would actually get to perform and sing with his idols on several occasions.

Nash said he enjoyed his time with the Hollies, but came to disagree with their musical directions. The group wanted to continue focusing on making hit singles; Nash wanted more. “Being around those (California) people changed me. I learned you could write a song about real stuff and still sell records,” he said.

Another seminal figure in Nash’s musical development was Joni Mitchell. “How could you live with a genius and not have something rub off?” Nash said of the years he and Mitchell were a couple. In fact, Nash says he feels so fortunate to have found 2 great loves in life – Joni and his current wife of 37 years, Susan. “She keeps my feet on the ground,” he said.

And then, of course, there’s Crosby. “This guy never ceases to amaze me,” Nash said. “He’s probably on his 15th life, but I think he has finally realized that he is not invincible”.

In fact, an incident involving one of Crosby’s escapades was the only thing the publishers of Nash’s book questioned. “Legal called me and said I had to check on the story that David sold his Mercedes for crack (cocaine). It seems David wanted to get his car back so he went to the dealer’s house and found him dead from a drug OD (over dose). So David stole his pink slip back. When I asked him about the story, David said not only was it true, there was more. He actually resold the car again to get more crack”.

Nash said he is constantly grateful for the life he has lived. “My father was dead at 46 and so sometimes, I feel I’m living 2 lives,” he said. He said a few years ago, he asked his mother why she and his father had been so supportive of his choice to risk all with music. “You’re living my life,” she told him. After she died, Nash was playing a concert at Carnegie Hall in New York. “I scattered some of her ashes there he said, adding that he still does that whenever he performs on a stage he believes his mother would have liked to have sung.

As for the political nature of much of his songwriting, Nash again cites Crosby. “Crosby has always spoken truth to power. I’ve always been for the underdog. I think the media wants us to focus on (Justin) Bieber’s monkey or the size of Kim Kardashian’s ass, but music is so much more than that,” he said.

Nash said that the political stands both he and the various configurations CSN&Y have assumed over the years, have effected the group’s popularity. On their last tour together during the George W. Bush years, the band played a song “Let’s Impeach the President”. In some southern venues, that stance caused some of the crowd to walk out.  “I mean they have the right to walk out, but Holy Toledo, if you buy a ticket to a Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young concert, what the heck do you expect?”

Like so many other great songwriters, Nash cannot offer a formula for what he does. “Once I write a song, it has to make it through me. I only write for me. I have to be moved before I can write,” He explained. He did, however, note with a laugh, one time when the process was speeded up. “I was at a dinner party and somebody said, ‘you’re supposed to be a big star. I bet you can’t write a song before you go,” Nash noted. So he left the room and came back in about 20 minutes with a completed version of “Just a Song Before I Go”.  The song reached #7 on the Billboard charts in 1977, making it CSN&Y’s highest climbing hit. “Yes, I really do love what I get to do,” Nash repeats. “I know so many people that have had their dreams crushed, but I get to live mine everyday”.