Graham Nash came to town recently to promote the paperback of his incredibly well-named memoir, Wild Tales: A Rock & Roll Life—a book that, when it focuses on David Crosby, makes Keith Richards’s autobiography read like Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm—and the terrific three-CD/one-DVD CSNY 1974 box set I reviewed a few months ago on “Altercation.” Even if you don’t make it to the end of the below interview, which reflects my interests as much as Graham’s, I strongly recommend Wild Tales, if only for its detailed descriptions of some incredible feats of human (and musical) endurance. And thanks to the terrific taping and transcription talents of Ted Hart, below is an edited transcript of our talk.
Eric Alterman: Well, this is The Nation, so let’s start by talking a little bit about politics, if that’s okay? What would you say is the most animating cause for you right now? What gets your blood boiling? What do you want to put your energy?
Graham Nash: Well, you know very well that we have to prioritize our time. We get asked to do a lot of benefits, as you probably realize. So you have to figure out what’s most important to you that you can hopefully affect and help. The overwhelming, overriding problem with humanity today that I see is climate change. I think that all these people that are paid to deny that it’s going on are bought and sold by the corporations that continue to pour carbon into the atmosphere. I think that we should have the smarts to listen to the 97, 90 percent of scientists that say—
EA: Ninety-seven, you were right the first time.
GN: Is it 97?
GN: Fantastic. Of the scientists that say, “Look, it is real, and humanity is causing it.” I think climate change is the biggest problem that we’re facing because—I mean, I’m 72 right now. How long is this going to go on? I mean, really: ten minutes? Ten years? Thirty years, maybe? Forty, if I’m lucky? Right, how long is this going on really? But my children and my grandchildren will be here way after I’m dead, and we’re leaving them a pile of shit. And I don’t want any of my grandchildren to be able to look at me and say their grandfather did nothing.
EA: I often wonder about the Koch brothers’ grandchildren.
GN: I talked about that yesterday in many interviews. And I said to them, I said, “Don’t the Koch brothers have kids and grandchildren? Don’t they know what they’re doing in this quest for money? They’re already one of the richest families in the world, you know, apart from Walmart people, and don’t they understand what’s going on?” I had a meeting yesterday with the Rockefeller Foundation. I don’t know whether you know it, but three months ago, they decided that they would divest all the money that they have in fossil fuels. Now this is the fucking family that started this shit. And they know it, and they realize it. But their grandchildren now are going, “You know what? No more. Let’s divest all our money in that. Let’s reinvest in alternative energies.” And one of the biggest items on their agenda right now is climate change. They are crazy about what’s going to happen. And they’re also smart business-wise because they’re beginning to realize that maybe they can make as much money as they did in oil in alternative energies. You know, the sun ain’t going away. The wind’s not going to stop blowing. Oil, gas, coal, it’s history in the long view. So I think that one of the things that I’m going to do in 2015 is try and bring together the 1,100 groups that are dealing with climate change that are all hurting for funding, that are all not under the same umbrella—you know the people that want to save the bald eagle and the people that want to save the whales and the people that want to get ride of nukes—We all need to be on the same page because the overriding problem is climate change because it will kill every fucking one of us. And we know it. And the scientists know it. And all these people like the Koch brothers and all these climate change deniers and all these people that think that Jesus rode on the back of a dinosaur and that the fucking world was created in seven days are fucked. And they need to be told that. And they need to come over to the side of sanity.