Take Five: Early Graham Nash Songs

Though he’s best known today as a revered solo artist (and former member of both Crosby Stills and Nash and Crosby Stills Nash and Young), Graham Nash found great success early in his career as a singer, guitarist and songwriter with the group he founded, The Hollies. During that period (1963-68) Nash and his band scored no less than 18 songs on the UK Top 40 singles chart. (The Hollies did well in the U.S. too, landing seven singles on the charts.)

Nash’s talents caught the attention of other artists as well; many would record songs he had written, sometimes enlisting him to play and/or sing on the sessions as well as produce the recordings. Here are five comparatively unknown songs written or co-written by Graham Nash – whose second solo album Wild Tales was released 50 years ago this January – from the early years of his career before his celebrated Woodstock debut with CSN (and sometimes Y).

The Mirage – “Go Away” (1965)
Dee Murray (later to find fame as lead guitarist in the Elton John Band) fronted this pop group from Hertfordshire, just outside London. This bouncy pop tune was written and produced by one L. Ransford, a pseudonym for the team of Hollies members Allan Clarke, Tony Hicks and Graham Nash. Nash reputedly appears on the track as well. The Mirage found little commercial success in their four years together, though a cover of The Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows” is a tasty slice of freakbeat.

Matadorerne – “Little Lover” (1965)
Releasing records only in Denmark, homegrown rock group Matadorerne debuted in 1964 and put out nine singles and three albums by the end of 1967. The b-side of “I Love Spring,” their fourth single, was this song composed by Nash and Clarke; the tune had first appeared as a Hollies album track on 1964’s Stay with the Hollies (released in the U.S. as Here I Go Again). The song would also be recorded and released that same year by a New Zealand band calling itself The Byrds (no relation to the U.S. group).

The Everly Brothers – “So Lonely” from Two Yanks in England (1966)
American hit making duo of brothers Phil and Don Everly traveled to London to record parts of their late 1966 LP. Eight of the ten songs on that album – including this one – were composed by “Ransford.” As it happened, The Hollies had released (or would subsequently release) their own versions of every single one of those eight tunes, mostly as single b-sides or album tracks. Along with band mate Bernie Calvert, Hicks and Nash provided instrumentation on the album; those sessions also featured – as did countless UK sessions of the era – future Led Zeppelin members Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones. (Reg Dwight – later known as Elton John – is rumored to have contributed as well.)

The Searchers – “Have You Ever Loved Somebody” (1966)
The “Ransford” songs on that Everlys record caught the attention of other artists as well; “Have You Ever Loved Somebody” would be cut yet again by Liverpool pop group The Searchers. It wouldn’t appear on any of their ‘60s LPs, but was released as a single near the end of their initial run. The jangling single was a minor hit in the UK, but the song’s popularity (it was also released at the same time by yet another act, Paul and Barry Ryan), likely spoiled The Searchers’ chance at bigger success with their recording.

The Sunshines – “O Negócio É Não Dar Bola from O Último Trem (1967)
Nash’s songwriting prowess impressed artists from non-English speaking countries as well. An aptly-named pop group from Brazil, The Sunshines released two LPs in 1966 and ‘67; their second and final release (translated as The Last Train) included a Portuguese-language reading of Nash’s “What’s Wrong with the Way I Live.” The track wasn’t released as a single but featured on an album filled with covers of songs by English-language pop songwriters.