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Songs for Beginners is British singer-songwriter Graham Nash's debut solo studio album. Released in May 1971, it was 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. It has been certified a gold record by the RIAA.[4]

Songs for Beginners
Studio album by
Released28 May 1971
23 September 2008 (CD+DVD)
Wally Heiders Studio III, Los Angeles and Studio "C", San Francisco
GenreFolk rock, country rock
ProducerGraham Nash
Graham Nash chronology
Songs for Beginners
Wild Tales
Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic4.5/5 stars[1]
Allmusic(CD+DVD) 4.5/5 stars[2]
Rolling Stone(favorable)[3]



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 Young's early 1970s 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 Top 40 track "Chicago" concerned both the 1968 Democratic National Convention and the trial of the Chicago Eight, articulating the outrage Nash felt concerning those proceedings.

A first generation compact disc was released in the late 1980s, and reissued in 2011. A remixed version supervised by Nash was issued on 180-gram vinyl only by Classic Records in 2001. A deluxe edition of 'Songs for Beginners was released on 23 September 2008 as a CD+DVD-Audio pack, featuring a bonus multichannel high resolution audio, all new 2008 video interview with Graham Nash, plus a photo gallery and complete lyrics along with the 11-track CD album remastered.[5]

The song "Simple Man" featured in the opening sequence of the 2007 film Reign Over Me, and a copy of the album appears in it. The same song was also used in the final minutes of the season 2 finale of the HBO series Looking. 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.

In 2018, the song "Better Days" was used as the closing credit song in the Showtime miniseries "Escape from Dannemora", Episode 7.[6]

Track listingEdit

All songs written by Graham Nash, except where noted.

Side one
  1. "Military Madness" - 2:50
  2. "Better Days" - 3:47
  3. "Wounded Bird" - 2:09
  4. "I Used to Be a King" - 4:45
  5. "Be Yourself" (Nash, Terry Reid) - 3:03
Side two
  1. "Simple Man" - 2:18
  2. "Man in the Mirror" - 2:47
  3. "There's Only One" - 3:55
  4. "Sleep Song" - 2:57
  5. "Chicago" - 2:55
  6. "We Can Change the World" - 1:00


Production personnel


AlbumBillboard (United States)

Year Chart Position
1971 Pop Albums 15

Singles – Billboard (United States)

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