Complete is a compilation album that features all of the songs from the first three National Band albums, Magnetic South, Loose Salute, and Nevada Fighter. The only thing not featured is "The First National Rag", which comes at the end of side one of Magnetic South and is a two-line spoken piece.
Michael Nesmith & The First National Band Complete
This complete set of the songs from The First National Band comes in answer to many requests. My own desire has been to preserve these songs as a collection since they were conceived and executed during a unique period in my life, a period of two years of shifting perspective, from a storm of media and fashion and fame to one of quiet introspection and removal from the conventions of the time. During this time I sought to capture, through these songs, something of the moment and the culture that was forcing itself forward. I felt empowered with an objective sensibility toward this culture and this nation because the social role I occupied at the time was that of a television actor whose star was thankfully fading. This fame, this recognizableness, isolated me from the normal activities of everyday life in a way nothing else could have. Museums, fairs, sporting events, even popular restaurants all were off limits unless I wanted to deal with the peculiar proceedings of being a minor celebrity in a group of strangers. I sought to turn this isolation to my advantage and began to examine America from a corner of the room. I was determined not to engage the phenomena of my own experience (one song slipped out, "Thanx For The Ride," which was my polite "no thank you" to the recent offerings of the show business machine) but to echo the cries I heard about me and to give voice to the songs of the people I observed and the nation they inherited.
The three First National Band records are not a trilogy except that the three of them are united by a common theme in the cover art of the album jackets and by a common thread of my own rendition of Americana. I would have liked to have released these songs all on one album when I first finished them, but the technology of the time made it impossible. Now, with the storage power of the CD, I can almost get all of the songs on that one medium. In this set I made the decision to put as much music on one CD as possible rather than splitting the music evenly between the two discs. With the cassette I can finally achieve the aim of grouping all the songs together on one medium and those of you with auto-reversing cassette decks can hear the songs as one listening experience.
A final note. It has been said that The First National Band was one of the pioneers of Country Rock and was partly responsible for a shift in popular music. I count this as nonsense for two reasons. First, the classification of music by genre it silly and meaningless. Arbitrary categories such as Country Rock or R&B is fostered by schools, perpetuated by fools, creates havoc in the business of arts and tends to oppress artists. Even legitimate distinctions, such as opera from ballet serve only a limited purpose. The only way to understand a musical form is to listen to it, not talk about it.
Second, I was not using Country music or Rock music as forms, but was learning from artists who had a clear resonance with my own poetry and then playing this music in the most natural way.
However you ultimately classify this music, I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed making it. I offer it here with my continuing appreciation for all the support I have received from you over the years.
Nez. August 16, 1993