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When Graham Nash covered Joni Mitchell's 'A Case of You'

There are songs out there in the ether that hold a special place in many of our hearts—Joni Mitchell and Graham Nash have written more than their fair share of them. These special songs just seem to touch something spiritually personal, as though we have receptors in-built in our DNA for them. However, that reaches a whole new height when the transcendent anthem, loved the world over, is actually about you!

Nevertheless, the ever-measured ways of Nash have never let him do anything other than cherish Mitchell’s output even if they have a slightly bitter taste for him. As Nash writes in the book 101 Essential Rock Records: “I first met Joan in Ottawa, Canada in 1967. The Hollies were playing a show there and Joni was playing at a local club. There was a party thrown for us after our show, and when I entered the room, I noticed a beautiful woman sitting down with what appeared to be a large bible on her knees. I kept staring at her and our manager at the time, Robin Britten, was saying something into my ear and distracting me from my quest.” 

Nash romantically continues, “I asked him to be quiet as I was checking Joni out. He said, ‘if you’d just listen to me I’m trying to tell you that she wants to meet you’. David Crosby had told me earlier that year to look out for Joni should I ever get the chance to meet her. Joni and I hit it off immediately, and I ended up in her room at the Chateau Laurier and she beguiled me with 15 or so of the most incredible songs I’d ever heard. Obviously, I fell in love right there and then.  She touched my heart and soul in a way that they had never been touched before.”

Nash then goes on to eulogise Joni Mitchell’s scintillating 1971 record Blue, to which he posits, “I watched her write some of those songs and I believe that one or two of them were about me, but who really knows?” However, the line that Bob Dylan used to describe Joan Baez’s masterpiece ‘Diamonds and Rust’ seems applicable: “I love that song ‘Diamonds and Rust’, to be included in something that Joaney had written, I mean to this day it still impresses me.”

After all, how could Nash not be impressed by ‘A Case of You’? The intro to ‘A Case of You’ is a moment of such brilliance that I am more than happy to assert that it is one of the ten greatest opening verses without any due forethought regarding the gilded list that it would be contained within. The song exhibits a sort of irascible wit that makes you pity Nash who was on the receiving end of such cutting jibes during their parting, and yet, as ever with Joni, it retains a dignified air and wisdom.

Brilliance aside, it still took Nash great courage to cover it in a live solo capacity and it is a measure of the man that his performance is dripping with that same dignified wisdom and spine-tingling dose of soaring sincerity. 

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