Friday, October 18, 2013

Graham Nash: Simple Man

Earlier this week, I posted a photo of me and Graham Nash on my Facebook page. Upon seeing it, Greg Rector, a college friend and regular visitor to this blog, reminded me of Nash’s “Song for Beginners” album. It was Nash’s first solo attempt and this 1971 gem charted at #15. The LP produced a hit single, “Chicago,” that lamented the 1968 Democratic National Convention in the Windy City. “Chicago” peaked at #35.

For this Friday Flipside presentation, I give you the “B” side to “Chicago,” “Simple Man.” While it never charted on its own, it was often played on album radio and even made an appearance at the beginning of the 2007 film “Reign Over Me.” Perhaps Atlantic Records intended the single to be a double sided hit, as “Chicago” is listed on the 45 as “Side A” and “Simple Man” is identified as “Side One.” ¿Confusing, No?

The album was released shortly after Nash’s break-up with Joni Mitchell and it is said that many of the songs were inspired by this tumultuous time in his life. The lyrics may allude to this, as Nash opines, “I’ve never been so much in love and never hurt so bad at the same time” and “I hear what you’re saying and it’s spinning my head around and I can’t make it alone.”

“Simple Man” has a sparse arrangement featuring Nash on vocals and piano. It appears that the piano was not closely miked, as it sounds as if it was, as represented in the lyrics, “just across the room.” Rita Coolidge joined Nash on back-up vocals and concert cellist Dorian Rudnytsky adds to the lower register.

Interestingly enough, the fiddle was played by multi-instrumentalist David Lindley, who is known for all manner of stringed instruments, but is primarily known for his lap steel work. The fiddle is somewhat of an early departure for Lindley, but he plays it with the same bravado as he does everything that comes into his talented hands.

Thanks Greg for the suggestion.


  1. One of the GREAT Graham Nash songs, nice choice! There's also a great version of this on the 1977 live album "Crosby/Nash Live" and Lindley plays fiddle just like on the studio version.

    1. Thanks for the heads up Tommy. I'll check out the live version.