How CSN's Ship Set Sail After Winning Best New Artist
(The Recording Academy asked recipients of the Best New Artist GRAMMY to share firsthand accounts of winning one of music's biggest awards. In this installment, Graham Nash details Crosby, Stills And Nash's win for 1969. The other artists nominated for Best New Artist at the 12th GRAMMY Awards were Chicago, Led Zeppelin, Neon Philharmonic, and Oliver.)
(As told to Lisa Zhito)
I don't think anybody gets into this business to win awards but we knew we had something different. A lot of the music at that time seemed more heavy metal: Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Cream, and that stuff. We made a more gentle album [1969's Crosby, Stills And Nash], and we knew it was going to be a big hit.
The Hollies, the Byrds and Buffalo Springfield were very decent harmony bands, obviously. And you could probably say David [Crosby] and Stephen [Stills] and I were the voices of those bands, and we all came together on CSN. And we absolutely knew that the songs we were about to record — "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes," "Wooden Ships," "Guinnevere," "Marrakesh Express" — were going to be rather popular.
You know, it's nice to win something when the other guy's Led Zeppelin. That's fun! None of us were there that night so [Atlantic Records co-founder] Ahmet Ertegun accepted it on our behalf. Ahmet was a very dear friend and supporter of this band, and an incredible music man.
David Crosby and I were on his boat in Mexico when we got the call that we had won. We had just sailed through the Panama Canal and were on our way to San Francisco. We got the call and I think we smoked another joint to celebrate.
Winning Best New Artist was just verification of the fact that we all thought we were on the right path. At that time, we didn't care about rules, we didn't care about anybody. We wouldn't even let the musician's union into our recording studio. We wanted to be left alone because we knew that we had music to make that could change the world. And in a small way I believe we did.
(GRAMMY winner Graham Nash is a two-time inductee of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Crosby, Stills And Nash, and the Hollies. On Nov. 16 he will be the featured guest at the GRAMMY Museum's An Evening With series in support of his most recent album, 2016's This Path Tonight.)
(Lisa Zhito is a Nashville-based writer and teacher. She last wrote about the making of Kirk Franklin's "Wanna Be Happy" for GRAMMY.com.)