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tv   Tavis Smiley  PBS  November 9, 2013 1:00am-1:30am EST

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tavis: good evening. from los angeles, i am tavis smiley. tonight, a conversation with graham nash and two-time rock 'n .oll hall of fame inductee of theicipated in some most legendary excesses and has now written about those callednces in a new book "wild tales." we are glad you have joined us. a conversation with graham nash coming up right now.
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>> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. cofounder of crosby stills and nash, graham nash has been at the forefront of rock music. he has written a few more experiences, good and bad. quick reminder of how great those harmonies are.
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singinga clip of them "wooden ships." ♪ ♪ tavis: i guess one would expect a book written by a rock 'n roll star to have the obligatory chapters about sex and drugs. to be sure, that exists in the book. i expect in conversations that get to that.y will
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i will leave it to the other show host to dig that up. i don't know if we have the front and the back cover. contemporary graham nash. there is a fascinating and heartbreaking story in this book about how you got introduced to the camera. your father turned you onto the camera and found himself imprisoned because of a camera and it had a profound impact on your life. tell me more about the camera story. >> he was a poor and hard- working man from the north of england. struggling with life after world war ii. was takingy
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photographs of me and my sister at the local zoo. he turned me on to the magic of photography when i was 10 years old. the first photograph was taken of my mother when i was 10. that was what? hadcamera that my father bought had been stolen. my father wouldn't tell. he consequently spent a year of his life in a very brutal prison in the north of england. who goes to jail for a year for a $30 camera? >> the people that can't afford good justice. of myto be the father family and the man of the house.
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our main breadwinner had been incarcerated. i got most of my clothes from the salvation army when i was supposed to be cool. i just wasn't cool at all. it had a very profound effect on my life. ofis: i want to ask a couple three questions. i will come to the justice question in just a second. your father does not snitch on the guy that he got the camera from but pays a heavy price. >> he had the courage to stand up to what he believed in. it is the same in most parts of
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america. you don't snitch on your friends. it is part of street life. his life would have been more difficult if he told the police who it was. been muchould have more difficult, but he stood up for what he believed in and it made me realize that justice is possibly an item that can be bought and sold. tavis: you are on to the question i want to ask now. what did you learn about the notion of justice and how malleable it might be? >> justice was a commodity and that poor people could not afford it and rich people can. it is the reason why many rich people don't go to jail for all crimes committed. lawyersan't afford good and to be able to burden the system, you are headed to jail.
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i always struggle to support the underdog. i have always been for the team that is two points behind. let me jump forward and i will come right back. there is so much in this book that i can't do justice to. experience inform your songwriting years down the road? you have been rich over the years speaking to humanity of all kinds of people. i am getting a sense of what that did to put you on the road years later to the lyrical content? >> a couple of songs i have written explain that. a song i wrote called chicago in which they bound and chained and gagged bobby seale.
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they called it a fair trial. you don't have to be a rocket scientist. if you are binding and gagging this man, how can it be a fair trial? my song about bradley manning. same thing. i was not interested if he was , the whistleblower that released the diplomatic and military cables to wiki leaks. but to be incarcerated in the awful conditions in which the united nations equated to and wasfor 1000 days not fair to me. light on someead of these cases. we need transparency. you referenced your
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mother and you dedicate this book to both of your parents. tell me about your mother and the influence that she had on you? in mysked my mother when ain life for music lot of my other friends, their parents were dissuading them. she said that she thought she had a good voice and wanted to be on stage. world war ii came along, she married my father. i was living her life, and i did not know it until all those years later. either 1970 or 1971, we were playing at carnegie hall. i am still talking to the audience.
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i start to tell them the story of why i am standing in front of them. i reach my hand into my pocket and i take out a tinge of my mother's ashes and i sprig of them on the stage at carnegie that sheing full well might have been singing on stage instead of me. tavis: what were your mother's ashes doing in your pocket on stage at carnegie hall? >> every great place that i think my mother would have loved to have sung at, i have spread her ashes. albert halle royal in london, beautiful places that i play. buckingham palace. tavis: that is a powerful story. what has that experience meant or done for you to spread your mother's ashes? it enriches our lives to
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honor our parents and their parents. thethe people that lived in national family that brought me to this point of talking to you right now. i think it is important that we acknowledge there dedication to make it better for their children. my mother wanted a better life for me than she had. tavis: you have realized that thater, when did you know ?t was your calling ech >> i was trying to figure out one of do at my life and them was manchester in 1957. , alloncert in manchester
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of these affect you. i was walking across the floor when i was 15 years old attempting to catch the eye of a girl that i like. heard bye-bye love come out of this huge speaker. i wanted to make music that did what others did for me. was there something about that song that spoke to you? or was it the performance? that song has been covered a million times. i was fascinated with how the two voices blended together.
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i know that they have these beautiful voices. i never heard two voices so seamlessly blend together to make one voice. that is what i try to do the rest of my life. i was about to ask what impact that had on your appreciation for harmonies. >> they were a decent harmony band. steve and neil were in buffalo springfield, also great holiday -- harmony band's. putting our voices together, it changed all of our lives instantly. what ever they have vocally was
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born in less than a minute. we didn't have to rehearse it. it is so unbelievably good to us as musicians. we had to start laughing in the middle of the song because it was silly how these voices came together instantly to create something much bigger than themselves. you could not have written a book without talking about joni mitchell, the relationship that you had. >> i had met joni a couple of months earlier, and we made a vow to each other that we would see each other if we could. i flew from london to los angeles to be with joni. at dinnerstephen were that night. they just finished reversing into part harmony.
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really, a great song. had my harmony down and i had my recognition of that body language, how they are breathing and moving. that made the thing that made us laugh so deeply. i had to leave the band that i started. i had to do some drastic thinking. it was big enough for me to move my entire life. tavis: it was big enough for you to move your entire life and you acknowledge that you did not have the courage to tell the band that graham nash was no longer part of the band. little guilty not
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having had the courage to tell them to their face. a lot of it was due to the fact that allen was my oldest friend and i love him dearly. we had come up singing the lord's prayer at assembly. it was difficult for me to tell them. i entered it kind of flippantly, but i wasn't going to be there too much longer. tavis: what did you learn about yourself or how to handle matters like that in the future? >> i can't procrastinate anymore. when i need to get something done, i do it. i have never been busier in my life and i am 71 years old. i am not complaining at all.
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but my life is incredibly busy and i have, every single day, one form or another, i have to create every single day. i am fortunate enough to live in have been aere i citizen for over 30 years. the stuff that they have written about me, we may not have been able to get away with in a different country. i am allowed to speak my mind. tavis: you are not slowing down. i am sure you're doing a show somewhere. talk to me about this need. every day before we go to bed we should be able to look back and see something that we created that day. wrote, a line, a
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haiku, a picture you took. anry day presents opportunity to create. like conversations with guests. >> i am an incredibly lucky man. they put me in a place where we see magic. what is life going to show me today. i put myself in that position that the universe is here to support me and love me. universe isk the out to screw me over.
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i am not a big reliever in organized religion but i am in a very religious man. energys an incredible running the entire universe. tavis: the other issue i wanted to get to, you are getting singing the lord's prayer. religion?ly or is it more spiritual? get a sense that there is about beingiritual religious. >> i am more spiritual than i have been religious. i truly recognize that people need faith to be able to make it tomorrow.
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breath.eep it will be better tomorrow. of it being better tomorrow has followed me all my life. tavis: a great artist in his own right. how did that affect the work? >> stephen stills played most of the instruments. we played rhythm guitar in our songs, but stephen played bass and organ. it we finished the record and we realized that we will play this live, we knew we had to get another musician in there. owner and the powers that be
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, that was shocking to me. we had a beautiful album that we thought created unique music in terms of harmony. why do we need another person, a writer, a singer? neil.r met i never knew who he was. until i had breakfast with neil and gotten to know him a little, we could not make that momentous decision. with neil and he was prime minister of canada. he knew exactly what he wanted. after that, it was ok that he came to join.
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tavis: you can't get that many talents and not have some egos and attitudes that clash from time to time. >> everything is totally fine, but once you drop one, my god. even so, we just finished the bridge concert. neil and his wife have an children withith special needs. they are called the bridge school concerts and they are wonderful experiences to be able to help these kids. some things look really good. tavis: when you look back at those years, the work you did as a group, what do you make of
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your discography? there are times when i look -- iat what we've done don't look back much because there's nothing you can do about it. think two things. would we have made more music or better music had we been straight? i don't think there is an answer to that question because it was what it was. you make the point in your book that you think your creativity was heightened when you were using drugs. you're not the first person to say that. >> i am not condoning taking drugs on any level, but it was good for me at that point in my life. i don't think we have made
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enough music. it probably kept us away from each other too long. but it is what it is. we have made all the music we have made and certainly there is more music to come. at i look with happiness what i have done in my life. i try my best to make my life better and to make your kids lives better. you dedicate this to your granddaughter, why still a joy -- stella joy? >> i could drop dead in the middle of this conversation. tavis: i hope not. tavis killed last night. the ratings would be big. lost friends in stranger circumstances. if she is one-year-old and i am -- i wanted her to
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understand who her grandfather was and how he got here. what struggles he went through that she might be able to learn from. have enhanced our lives in a myriad of ways. his name, of course, is graham nash. he is writing his own memoirs. a rock 'n roll life, i still have not scratched the surface of all you will find in this text. we always have a great conversation. thank you for your time. as always, thanks for watching and keep the faith. >> for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley at pbs.org. tavis: hi, i'm tavis smiley. join me next time for a conversation with edward james almost and lisa gay hamilton about their new movie.
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that is next time, see you then. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> be more. pbs.
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