Songs for Beginners

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Songs for Beginners
Studio album by Graham Nash
Released 28 May 1971
23 September 2008 (CD+DVD)
Recorded 1970–1971
Wally Heiders Studio III, Los Angeles and Studio "C", San Francisco
Genre Folk rock, Country-rock
Length 32:13
Label Atlantic
Producer Graham Nash
Graham Nash chronology
Songs for Beginners
Wild Tales
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[1]
Allmusic (CD+DVD) 4.5/5 stars[2]
Rolling Stone (favorable)[3]

Songs for Beginners is Graham Nash's first solo album, released in May 1971, and one of four high-profile albums released by each partner of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young in the wake of their chart-topping Déjà Vu album of 1970. It peaked at No. 15 on the Billboard Top Pop Albums chart, and the single "Chicago" made it to No. 35 on the Billboard Hot 100.


Nash brought in an impressive group of guests to assist in the recording, including David Crosby, Jerry Garcia, Phil Lesh, Dave Mason, David Lindley, Rita Coolidge and Neil Young (under his pseudonym Joe Yankee). The making of this album directly followed his break-up with longtime girlfriend, Joni Mitchell. Many of the songs are about their time together. The album featured the traits that Nash had come to be known for: a good sense of pop song construction, expressions of emotional sincerity, and fervent political activism. The Top 40 track, "Chicago," concerned both the 1968 Democratic National Convention and the infamous trial of the Chicago Eight, articulating the outrage Nash felt concerning those proceedings. The topicality which suffuses the album would always remain central to Nash's work: of the quartet, he and Crosby most directly professed sentiments aligned with those common to the Woodstock Nation. This similarity undoubtedly formed part of the foundation for their long-standing partnership even outside the parent group.

The album was released on compact disc on 25 October 1990, and a remixed version supervised by Nash was issued on 180 gram vinyl by Classic Records in 2001. Both issues are out of print. A reissued edition of Songs for Beginners was released on 23 September 2008 as CD+DVD-Audio pack, featuring a bonus multichannel hi-rez audio, all new 2008 video interview with Graham Nash, plus a photo gallery and complete lyrics along with the 11-track CD album remastered.[4]

The song "Simple Man" featured in the opening sequence of the 2007 Adam Sandler and Don Cheadle film Reign Over Me, and Sandler's character later praises the album upon finding it in a used record store. A demo version of "Be Yourself" plays during the closing credits of the film "Up in the Air". "Military Madness" has been covered live by Death Cab For Cutie, and was covered by indie-rock band Woods on their 2009 album Songs of Shame."

Track listing and personnel[edit]

All songs by Graham Nash, except "Be Yourself" by Nash and Terry Reid.

Side one[edit]

  1. "Military Madness" – 2:50
  2. "Better Days" – 3:47
  3. "Wounded Bird" – 2:09
    • Nash – guitar, vocals
  4. "I Used to Be A King" – 4:45
  5. "Be Yourself" – 3:03
    • Nash – guitar, vocals; Coolidge – piano, electric piano; Samuels – bass; Barbata – drums; Everyone Loose There – chorus

Side two[edit]

  1. "Simple Man" – 2:05
  2. "Man in the Mirror" – 2:47
    • Nash – guitar, vocals; Yankee – piano; Garcia – pedal steel guitar; Chris Ethridge – bass; Barbata – drums
  3. "There's Only One" – 3:55
  4. "Sleep Song" – 2:57
    • Nash – guitar, paper, comb, vocals; Rudnytsky – cello
  5. "Chicago" – 2:55
  6. "We Can Change the World" – 1:00
    • Nash – guitar, organ, piano, tambourine, vocals; Ethridge – bass; Barbata – drums, tambourine; Coolidge, Fields, Matthews, King, Morrison – backing vocals; Cox – whiskers

Additional personnel[edit]


AlbumBillboard (North America)

Year Chart Position
1971 Pop Albums 15

Singles – Billboard (North America)

Year Single Chart Position
1971 "Chicago" Pop Singles 35
1971 "Military Madness" Pop Singles 73
1971 "I Used To Be A King" Pop Singles 111