Posts Tagged ‘Crosby’

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one of the most indelible musical icons of the past 50 years, David Crosby casts a presence that’s seemingly inescapable. In the ‘60s, it was his image of a beaming young man in a cape and fur hat with a mischievous look in his eyes and a kind of beatific attitude that first drew attention on the cover of the early Byrds albums. After parting ways with the band as they grew tired of his controversial comments, he grew his hair into a lion’s mane, doning a fringed buckskin jacket to pose on a coach besides his brothers in harmony for the cover of the first Crosby, Stills & Nash album. Later he shifted personas again, taking on the role of a defiant, paranoid druggie who railed against authorities with absolute indignation.
However, as years went by, all essence of amusement drained from his persona. He was the emaciated-looking man, ruined by the ravages of drugs, who made a plea for redemption from the pages of People magazine. Later, as a stone-faced, glassy-eyed mannequin he became little more than a token prop as he attempted to hold himself together onstage with Crosby and Nash.
Then there was the shock of seeing the newly shorn ex-con managing a smile on his release from the pen following his conviction for illegal possession of a handgun. More recently, he’s had the look of a benevolent, snowy-haired granddad happy to be immersed in harmony. A steely-eyed elder statesman, he readily shares his knowing smile.

It’s the latter persona that he projects on the phone, an eager, energetic enthusiast filled with exuberance and exhilaration because he’s still allowed to do the thing he loves, singing songs that satisfy him in a spiritual sense. Projecting that irrepressible optimism, he dutifully answers a reporter’s inquiring questions while speaking from his home in Santa Barbara. In fact, he comes across as earnest, affable and animated as an old pal you’re reconnecting with after far too many years. He’s so damn friendly and down-to-earth in fact, that two minutes into the conversation you abandon any obligation to call him Mr. Crosby and settle instead for just plain Dave.
That excitement was especially obvious when the subject turned to his new album, Sky Trails, the third in a series of recent releases following Lighthouse and 2014’s Croz.

We practically have a columns devoted to David Crosby’s incredible, inexhaustible, and curmudgeonly Twitter presence, but we rarely take an opportunity to highlight the man’s music, even though he’s making it at a regular, even-prolific pace. The Byrds and Crosby, Stills, and Nash alum’s solo oeuvre is a mixed bag, especially dependent on how much you categorically get into music definitely recorded at orgies. But his song “Sell Me a Diamond,” is a deathly-smooth, meditative miniature, and fully worth your time if you’re a devotee of ’70s Joni and Steely Dan. (We know from both rock’n’roll historyand Crosby’s tweet-storms that he is, too.)

Dipping into a throatier, conversational Donald Fagen cadence instead of sticking to his soaring CSN tenor, Croz sings about trying to negotiate the perfect, “conflict-free” diamond sale, and then gifting it to worthy, pure “souls.” Later, there’s a bit about the merits of turning off the grim news and “listen[ing] to children laughing” instead. As NPR notes, Crosby co-wrote the enigmatic song with his son, and the two are definitely working with some oblique metaphors. But over the shimmering ride-cymbal backbeat and steel guitar, it doesn’t really matter what it all means. It just sounds good as hell.

With an unexpected vigour, David Crosby’s late-career renaissance continues as he delivers Sky Trails, his third solo effort in four years. Arriving hot on the heels of 2016’s Michael League-produced Lighthouse, Sky Trails splits the difference between its predecessor’s spare acoustic ruminations and the singer/songwriter’s fascination with jazz. Produced by his multi-instrumentalist son, James Raymond, much of this set brandishes a full band as Crosby and his collaborators explore Steely Dan-style grooves on the funky opener, “She’s Got to Be Somewhere,” or politicized jazz-folk on the harmony-stacked “Capitol.”

On the gentler, more introspective side, piano ballads like “Before Tomorrow Falls on Love” and the excellent “Home Free” distinctively recall the mid-’70s experimental heyday of long time friend and peer Joni Mitchell, whose gorgeous “Amelia” Crosby faithfully covers here. Tonally and instrumentally, quite a bit of Sky Trails shares a kinship with Mitchell masterpieces like Hejira and The Hissing of Summer Lawns, utilizing fretless bass, jazz piano, soprano sax, and unconventional chord structures. On the folkier side, another highlight is the lovely acoustic title cut, co-written and co-sung by North Carolina singer/songwriter Becca Stevens. As a whole, Crosby touches on a number of pleasing themes and sounds on Sky Trails, lending his sweet tenor and trademark harmonies to material of surprisingly high quality given his recent prolificacy.

Laurel Canyon is a neighbourhood in Los Angeles, but for a lot of music fans it’s a time and place, and a shorthand for a mystical folk-rock sound that included Joni Mitchell, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, The Doors, Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne, the Eagles and many more. This two-part docu-series, made by Alison Ellwood (who also directed The Go-Go’s), gives an overview of the scene, the sound and the people who made the music. “Through a wealth of rare and newly unearthed footage and audio recordings, the series features an intimate portrait of the artists who created a musical revolution that changed popular culture. Uniquely immersive and experiential, this event takes us back in time to a place where a rustic canyon in the heart of Los Angeles became a musical petri dish.”

Pulling back the curtain on a mythical world and provide an up-close look at the lives of the musicians who inhabited it.

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Let’s takes a look at the best songs of Stephen Stills including a few chestnuts from all aspects of his career. Look at Stephen Stills’ solos albums his work with Manassas, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, and his earlier band Buffalo Springfield. This is by no means a definite list of Stephen Stills songs but rather just a sort of soundbite at some of the most essential songs Stephen Stills has released throughout his 50 plus year career. Neil Young gets far more attention for his contributions to Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young but two-time former bandmate Stephen Stills has created his own niche as a stirring singer, songwriter and instrumentalist. Unfortunately, a sporadic, up-and-down solo career hasn’t always helped his profile.

Our classic Stills songs list is a tough thing to do because Stephen Stills had so much success in the late 1960s and early 1970s with Buffalo Springfield, Crosby Stills Nash and Young and his solo career. I suppose you could have filled a top 50 listing of Stephen Stills songs list from just that early five years period. However Stephen Stills has continued to write and record songs up to 2017 as of this writing. So we have spread this list out over the years the best we could while still limiting it to ten. Every song in this list was written by Stephen Stills.

For What It’s Worth

We open our Essential Stephen Stills songs list with a legendary song written by Stephen Stills when he was a member of Buffalo Springfield. The great Stephen Stills song “For What It’s Worth,” was released on Buffalo Springfield’s second pressing of their debut album entitled Buffalo Springfield. The album was released in 1966. The song “For What It’s Worth,” was originally released as a single and then added to the album on the second pressing.

“For What it’s Worth,” was a huge hit for Buffalo Springfield in 1966 as the song became a top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100. Interestingly, every song on Buffalo Springfield’s debut album was either written by Stephen Stills or Neil Young.

Four Days Gone

Buffalo Springfield released three studio albums before the band broke up. In 1968, Stephen Stills left the group to form Crosby Stills and Nash, Richie Furay formed POCO with Jim Messina who would later join with Kenny Loggins as part of Loggins and Messina. Neil Young became essentially solo Neil Young. We would have loved to have chosen more Stephen Stills songs from Buffalo Springfield for our Stephen Stills songs list, but we had so much more to cover which limited our choices. Our second choice was released on Buffalo Springfield’s final album entitled Last Time Around. The great song “Four Days Gone,” also featured great lead guitar work by Neil Young.

Suite: Judy Blue Eyes

If you had to pick one Crosby Stills & Nash sons that you could ever listen to again, tell me it would not be “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.” This incredible piece of music was written by Stephen Stills and released on the band’s debut album simply titled Crosby Stills & Nash. The album was released in 1969. the song “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,” was released as the second single from the album after the release of “Marrakesh Express,” as the band’s debut single. Another deft amalgamation – as the title implies, this is a suite of four short songs written by Stills and seamlessly interwoven. Lyrically it refers to his relationship with folk singer-songwriter Judy Collins. Opening with glistening acoustic guitars, it builds to a searing, Latin-flavoured climax, ending on a repeated ‘doo-doo-doo-da-doo’ refrain of life-affirming joy.

Stephen Stills “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,” was exceptionally long for a single,clocking in at over seven minutes. Nonetheless, the song was a top 40 hit peaking at number 21 on the Billboard Hot 100. It also became a staple on fm radio becoming one of the most played classic rock songs of all time.

Helplessly Hoping

Stephen Stills’ song “Helplessly Hoping,” was also released on the Crosby Stills & Nash debut album. The song was placed as the b side to the album’s debut single “Marrakesh Express,” which was written by Graham Nash. From an arranging point Stephen Stills dominated that album as he was responsible for almost all the guitar, bass and keyboard parts on the record. Dallas Taylor played drums and Crosby & Nash added some guitar parts here and there, but in the end, most of the instrumentation on the album was performed by Stephen Stills.

Carry On

Neil Young joined Crosby Stills & Nash in 1970 to form the quartet Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. The four brilliant musicians would record their first album together entitled Déjà Vu.It must have been really tough choosing whose songs got recorded and released between these four brilliant musicians and songwriters. Stephen Stills got three of his songs recorded for the album including one he co-wrote with Neil Young. Here Stephen Stills brings elements of three different songs into one concise package. He draws on Questions from his old band Buffalo Springfield, plus there’s a jam session with drummer Dallas Taylor tagged on as a delightful free-form coda. And, of course, the yearning harmonies are to die for. The album’s opening track was written by Stephen Stills entitled “Carry On.” The song was released as the fourth single from the record.

Love The One You’re With

While Crosby Stills Nash & Young were enjoying tremendous success with their work together on record, the four talented musicians were also celebrating the releases of their solo albums. In 1970, Stephen Stills released his first solo album entitled Stephen Stills. The album’s leadoff track and first single “Love The One You’re With,” became Stephen Stills most successful solo single. The song reached all the way to number 14 on the Billboard Hot 100. One could not turn on the radio in the early 1970’s without hearing Stephen Stills “Love The One You’re With.”

Stephen Stills’ biggest hit and focus instead on how this one song collects everything that can sum up his career. From its island-inflected percussive elements and utterly irresistible chorus to a vocal so full of unfettered longing and those chunky organ fills (played by Stills), “Love the One You’re With” is the sound of a performer at his tour-de-force peak.

Stephen Stills’ first solo album featured an incredible cast of musicians. Two of the greatest guitar God’s of all time performed on the album. Both Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton played on some of the albums songs. Ringo Starr, Booker T. Jones, Rita Coolidge, David Crosby and Graham Nash also performed on the record.

It Doesn’t Matter

The great Stephen Stills song “It Doesn’t Matter,” was released on the album Manassas which was also the name of the new band Stephen Stills band in 1972. The group recorded two albums from 1972 to 1973. While hardcore Stephen Stills and Crosby Stills Nash & Young fans are familiar with Manassas,the groups has not gotten the recognition it deserved on a more mass scale in classic rock history. The group consisted of Stephen Stills, Chris Hillman, Al Perkins, Paul Harris, Dallas Taylor, Calvin Samuels and Joe Lala. The lilting opening track to the Stills-led side project Manassas, “It Doesn’t Matter” was co-written by the Byrds‘ Chris Hillman. But it serves as a sturdy showcase for Stills‘ hoarsely emotive vocal and ringing guitar.

“It Doesn’t Matter,” was released as the album’s single. It registered on the Billboard top 100 but peaked at number 61. The song was written by Stephen Stills, Chris Hillman and Rick Roberts. “It Doesn’t Matter,” opened side three of the two record set.

Dark Star

In 1977, Crosby, Stills & Nash released their second album as a trio. It had been eight years since the band released their debut album in 1969. Of course there was Déjà Vu.with Neil Young in 1970, but the release of CSN in 1977 was surprisingly only the second album the trio had released together. Stephen Stills song “Dark Star,” opened side two of the record. It was never released as a single, but it was a firm fan favourite instantly.

Isn’t It So

Stephen Stills song “Isn’t It So,” is the first Stephen Stills song on this list that was not released in the 1960’s or 1970’s. That’s not to say that Stephen Stills did not continue to release great music from the 1980’s on. It just defines the incredible body of work that Stephen Stills was responsible for in the 1960’s and 1970s.

“Isn’t It So,” was released on the Stills “Alone” album. The record was released in 1991. While bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden were releasing dark music that captivated the rock and roll scene, Stephen Stills was going it alone. Just Stephen Stills on a guitar with a handful of great songs sung in that legendary voice. Keeping it real, keeping it simple and keeping it great.

Judy

We close out our classic songs of Stephen Stills songs list with a great song from his album Everybody Knows. The album was released and billed as Stills & Collins. It was the first time that Stephen Stills and Judy Collins ever released an album together. The album was released in 2017. The song “Judy,” represented the second time Stephen Stills composed a song about Judy Collins, the first being Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.

Treetop Flyer

The darkly intricate “Treetop Flyer” is a rumination by a free spirit, presented in a suitably raw setting featuring only Stills and his imaginative guitar. The album-closing song from 1991’s Stills Alone includes a narrative twist: He’s not flying so close to the ground because he’s some kind of daredevil; he learned that trying to avoid anti-aircraft fire in Vietnam. And it arrives like a punch in the chesthttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=opBe5z0qwRE

Also check out Bluebird or Southern Cross, Black Coral , Rock N Roll Woman, Colorado, Black Queen, As I Come Of Age also from the first Manassas album. So begins the Task.

Thanks to classicrockhistory

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A deep rift defined the early relationship of guitar gods Stephen Stills and Neil Young. It complicated their first band, Buffalo Springfield, as well as their subsequent four headed-monster, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. The conflict worked to their great advantage, however, in their fiery instrumental interplay. Their dynamic came to a thrilling head on the classic CSNY live album, 4 Way Street  , released in 1971. While the first disc of the double set focused on acoustic tunes, the second saw the band charge through a sustained electric foray. All the songs in the second half featured glorious solos but the greatest, and longest, could be found in 13 and 14 minute takes on Neil Young’s “Southern Man” and Stills “Carry On”. Throughout each, the guitarists thrust and parry, using their instruments as emotional swords. Stephen Stills would spin a dominant solo over the riff while Young would answer back with sniping licks. Then they’d reverse those roles. At times, the players chime, at others clash, creating a play of synchronicity and tension as compelling as a pas-de-deux.

Déjà Vu might be the preferred choice of critics, no doubt due to the presence of Neil Young, but CSN, the trio’s glorious debut is arguably a much superior representation of their sound, and certainly a much purer one. And while some have described CSN as the ‘60s first true ‘supergroup,’ the same title could also be applied to Cream, who’d already formed and broken up long before Crosby, Stills and Nash had even made their first recording.

David Crosby, having been kicked out of The Byrds during recording sessions for 1968’s The Notorious Byrd Brothers, loitered around Laurel Canyon, pondering over his next move. It wasn’t until he hooked up with GrahamNash (ex-Hollies) and Stephen Stills that the idea of forming a new band became a real possibility.

Nash remembers: “We were in Joni’s living room – or was it Cass’s kitchen? – and David and Stephen began singing “You Don’t Have To Cry.” I asked them to sing it again then I added my harmony to it. The heavens opened: it was an unbelievable sound and we knew we had to make music together.”

In England they approached Apple, the independent label founded by The Beatles, but were rejected after hearing what they were given. CSN returned to America where, thanks to the enthusiasm of David Geffen and AhmetErtegun, CSN were subsequently offered a contract with Atlantic Records, the same label that would soon sign Led ZeppelinStills dominated the recording of the album. Apart from drums, handled by Dallas Taylor, he played nearly all of the instruments on the album. Nash played acoustic guitar on two tracks and Crosby rhythm guitar on a few. Stills played all the bass, organ, and lead guitar parts, as well as acoustic guitar on his own songs.

Recorded at Wally Heider’s Studio III in Los Angeles in early 1969, and released in May that same year, Crosby, Stills & Nash would go on to eclipse anything by The Byrds, The Hollies, or even BuffaloSpringfield. Also, by employing their surnames in the band’s title, instead of adopting an actual name, such as The Zombies, Jefferson Airplane etc, meant that CSN were already destined to stand out.

Right from opening Acoustic Guitars of “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” (written about Judy Collins) and when those magical three voices blend – you realise you’re in the presence of something very special. Although the song is 7:24 minutes long , Its a marathon-like ode to his failed relationship with singer Judy Collins. Progressive-folk, raga, country-blues, even Spanish lyrics, “Suite” is an opus that takes the listener on a personal and deeply moving journey, and remains the one song that CSN should be best remembered for. Nash’s catchy “Marrakesh Express” might seem a bit twee now, at least to modern ears, yet back in the day, even a title such as that meant it was fully loaded with all manner of connotations. It’s followed by the stunning ethereal beauty of “Guinnevere” sashaying into your living room with a softly plucked Acoustics. Then you get hit with the full harmonious power and beauty of those three voices as a wall of one. When the trio first got together in Joni Mitchell’s house – they noticed the ‘timber’ of the combo.

Stills’ “You Don’t Have To Cry” is the song which started it all, and is a delightful country-blues number complemented by some exquisite three-part harmonies, followed by the trippy “Pre-Road Downs,” written by Nash, and which closed side one of the original record.

Flip the disc, and we begin with the iconic “Wooden Ships,” which would turn up on the Jefferson Airplane album “Volunteers” in November of 1969 (it was a co-write with Paul Kantner) and I’ve always loved both versions – a strange hybrid of Soulful Rock that seemed to belong to California in 1969. CSN’s original take is shorter and amps up the Guitar and Organ . The bass and rhythm section is so warm and sweet but it’s the Stills vocal followed by Crosby and back again that impresses . The lyrics describe a handful of survivors living in a post-apocalyptic world. The song was included in the Woodstock movie, thus helping to propel the group’s popularity ever further. The gentle “Lady Of The Island,” written by Nash, is a delicate love-song devoted to JoniMitchell, while “Helplessly Hoping” picks up where “You Don’t Have To Cry” left off, full of delicious harmonies and subtle acoustic guitar.

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Crosby’s “Long Time Gone” had been floating around David’s head for a while, before nailing the master (a very early demo was included on the Voyage box set). Stills explained the process: “So with a song like “Long TimeGone,” I’d say, ‘Cros, go home.’ David would come back in the morning, and I’d say, ‘So, how do you like your song?’”

Clearly, Stills’ experience working in various studios over the years, meant that he knew exactly what to do when it came to overdubbing his instruments, as evidenced on “49 Bye-Byes,” a tune practically built from the ground up thanks to Stills’ knowledge of recording technology.

On the cover the members are, left to right, Nash, Stills, and Crosby, for no particular reason, the reverse of the order of the album title. The photo was taken by their friend and photographer Henry Diltz before they came up with a name for the group. They found an abandoned house with an old, battered sofa outside, located at 815 Palm Avenue, West Hollywood, across from the Santa Palm car wash that they thought would be a perfect fit for their image. A few days later they decided on the name “Crosby, Stills, and Nash”. To prevent confusion, they went back to the house a day or so later to re-shoot the cover in the correct order, but when they got there they found the house had been reduced to a pile of timber

Dallas Taylor can be seen looking through the window of the door on the rear of the sleeve. In the expanded edition, however, he is absent. The original vinyl LP was released in a gatefold sleeve that depicted the band members in large fur parkas with a sunset in the background on the gatefold (shot in Big Bear, California), as well as the iconic cover art. A long folded page inside displayed the album credits, lyrics, track listing,

The truly dedicated listener will likely want the 2006 HDCD expanded edition, which includes early takes of “TeachYour Children,” “Song With No Words,” “Do For The Others,” a tender folk ballad by Stills, and a cover of Fred Neil’s “Everybody’s Talkin’.” the group continued recording that year and the HDCD disc has four bonus tracks come from those sessions. “Do For The Others” would eventually show on “Stephen Stills” – his debut solo album from late 1970. The second it opens – you can hear why its been included on this Expanded CD Edition – not only is this song gorgeous to listen too – it’s beautifully recorded – essentially a Demo with Stills on Lead Guitar while the other two harmonise. It’s a genuine wow. Second up is another harmony winner in “Song With No Words” where they “dah dah” the melody that would eventually appear on David Crosby’s magnificent “If I Could Only Remember My Name” debut solo album in 1971. Truly beautiful is the only way to describe the Trio doing Fred Neil’s classic “Everybody’s Talkin'” made famous by Nilsson’s cover as used in the movie “Midnight Cowboy”. Crosby describes it in the liner notes as “Stills at his best…” There’s a demo of the “DéjàVu” classic “Teach Your Children” which is nice but nothing as good as the magical trio that preceded it. Fans will know that there are five other ‘outtakes’ from the period on the “Carry On” 4CD Box Set (1991) – one day we might get a Deluxe Edition 2CD set covering the event in its entirety.

While Crosby, Stills & Nash can never betray its hippie, idealistic origins, the record itself provides a timeless window into the lives of three young men whose unique, creative chemistry would inadvertently give rise to a whole new musical genre, one that included Poco, America, and most famously, The Eagles.

Years afterwards, Crosby would go on to sum up that special chemistry: “For whatever reasons, I think you get very few records like that in your life, which you can put on twenty years later and they still hold up. To this day, that first record comes on, and you don’t want to take it off or skip a tune. You just want to let it run.”

  • David Crosby – vocals; guitars on “Guinevere”; rhythm guitar on “Wooden Ships” and “Long Time Gone”
  • Stephen Stills – vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards, percussion all tracks except “Guinevere” and “Lady of the Island”
  • Graham Nash – vocals; rhythm guitar on “Marrakesh Express” and “Pre-Road Downs”; acoustic guitar on “Lady of the Island”
  • Dallas Taylor – drums on “Pre-Road Downs,” “Wooden Ships,” “Long Time Gone,” and “49 Bye-Byes”
  • Jim Gordon – drums on “Marrakesh Express”
  • Cass Elliot – backing vocals on “Pre-Road Downs”

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David Crosby  has the distinction of being a founding member of both the Byrds and Crosby, Stills & Nash who has survived drug busts in Texas (nine months in state prison for possession of heroin and cocaine), a hit-and-run driving accident, possession of a concealed pistol and drug paraphernalia, an arrest for driving into a fence in Marin County, a transplanted liver, the ire of Graham Nash, and fathering two children by Melissa Etheridge. He is a bit of a lightning rod to be sure! Love him or hate him, Crosby, now 79 years old, has had a stellar career. A singer-songwriter and guitarist, he wrote or co-wrote “Wooden Ships,” “Deja Vu,” “Guinnevere,” and “Lady Friend,” among others.

He is also noted for his soaring high harmonies, a trademark of his songs. In addition to performing on the Byrds first five albums (their best in my opinion), he also played on eight Crosby Stills & Nash albums including three with Neil Young), he has made solo albums, and collaborated with Graham Nash on five long players. Croz is  pretty prolific workhorse. He has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice with the Byrds and Crosby, Stills & Nash. He can be seen in an excellent 2019 documentary “Remember My Name,” in which he pulls no punches about his failed relationships, scrapes with the law, and regrets about years lost to drug abuse. Crosby is certainly a survivor.

David Crosby’s 1971 solo album “If I Could Only Remember My Name” was developed in a time of great emotional upheaval but also intense creativity for David Crosby and the contributing musicians. Many if not most of the finest San Francisco musician’s fingerprints can be found on this record. Often referred to as the ‘Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra’ the combination of talents can also be discovered adding their unique abilities to other albums of that era. Jefferson Starship’s Blows Against the Empire, Graham Nash’s Songs for Beginners, Mickey Hart’s Rolling Thunder as well as Paul Kantner/Grace Slick’s solo excursions feature many of the same artists. David Freiberg, Neil Young, Michael Shrieve, Graham Nash, Joni Mitchell as well as the members of the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane all make appearances in various combinations equaling some mind expanding and amazing music created in the early 1970’s. This amazing time in rock history will never be witnessed again, a time where wonderful collaborations and a shared love of musical discovery took precedent over record contracts, royalties and tour receipts.

David Crosby’s 1971 masterpiece “If I could Only Remember My Name”. Emotionally recovering from the loss of his lover Christine Hinton from a devistating car crash,

“If I Could Only Remember My Name” is the result of David Crosby’s escape from depression and his eventual refuge found through music and his friends. The collaborations featured on the recordings did not occur in a vacuum, the relationships were developed early on in the respective musicians careers. Paul Kantner, Crosby and Stephen Stills collaborated on the songwriting of the CSN track ‘Wooden Ships’, Jerry Garcia was a ‘spiritual advisor’/producer for the Jefferson Airplane’s Surrealistic Pillow album and David Freiberg, Kantner and Crosby often cross pollinated each others work in the early stages of their careers.

Crosby gathered a superb supporting cast, one that featured the communal contributions of friends and fellow travellers, among them, members of the Grateful Dead (Jerry Garcia, Phil Lesh, Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart), Jefferson Airplane (Grace Slick, Paul Kantner. Jorma Kaukonen, Jack Casady), Santana (Gregg Rolie and Michael Shrieve) and Quicksilver Messenger Service (David Freiberg), along with faithful standbys Graham Nash, Neil Young and Joni Mitchell.

The LP opens fittingly opens with the aptly titled ‘Music Is Love’. The song features three of the four principals of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, with Stills the only member not appearing. The song encapsulates the pervading attitude of the record with the ‘Music Is Love’ mantra harmonized by Nash and Young while Crosby spreads a soaring free form vocal over the top. Young, Crosby and Nash interweave crystalline acoustic guitars with Young offering his personal rhythm section of bass and congas and a ghostly vibraphone. The campfire vibe song rises weightless like smoke, soaking into the glorious melodic sunshine.

The cinematic and epic ‘Cowboy Movie’ follows, spotlighting the rhythm section of the Grateful Dead with Hart, Kreutzman and Lesh in addition to featuring a Jerry Garcia and Neil Young in a dusty ten paces and turn guitar duel. The story line of the tail fictionalizes the CSNY break up through the premise of a spaghetti western and comments on some of the personal issues that haunted the band, like certain principals relationship with the ‘Raven’ (Rita Coolage). Garcia and Young go toe to toe through deft uses of moaning feedback and the perfect finishing of each other’s guitar phrases. The heavy footed groove slowly gains in intensity, Crosby shreds his vocals thrillingly eventually climaxing in an instrumental orgasm that fades out much too soon. (There is a thrilling and extended version of this track available on the David Crosby box set Voyage)

The cool night air of ‘Tamalpais High (At About 3)” settles in, again featuring the Grateful Dead’s Billy K. on drums and Phil Lesh on bass. Garcia and the Airplane’s Jorma Kaukonen hold the six strings while Nash and Crosby handle the delicate wordless melody. Crosby stated that this song was not really ‘received’ by ‘CSNY’ so it ended up on his solo record. A quintessential Crosby melody, circular and umbrageous in its design, lyrical content is not required due to the aural portrait conjured by the instrumental and vocal alchemy. The organic blending of Crosby and Nash’s melody lines slither over the morphing jazz groove driven by Lesh’s thumping Alembic bass and Kreutzman’s multiple arms. Garcia and Kaukonen trade virginal clean tone lines over the additively shifty composition.

One of Crosby’s most enduring melodies and enchanted compositions, ‘Laughing’ follows and closes the first side of the record. Opening like the birth of a vibrant sunrise, the songs design is again built around the Grateful Dead rhythm section featuring Lesh’s well timed and plump detonations. Crosby’s glistening twelve string strums sparkle like solar rays through rain drops. On top of all of the swirling magic Garcia lays a sleek and spectral pedal steel line that is extremely emotive, acting as its own independent star sailing melody line. The song lyrically is the search for answers and according to Crosby directed to George Harrison and expressed psychedelically through a collaborative chorus highlighted by the smooth styling of Joni Mitchell.

Flipping over the LP, the second side of the record begins with ‘What Are Their Names’ a still relevant song that still features in CSN and CSNY set lists , but now performed acapella. This original rendition is a full band performance constructed around a descending set of changes. Three crisp guitars wrap themselves around a central pole to open the song, Crosby, Garcia and Young gently caressing the songs internal melody. As the drums and bass enter (Shrieve and Casady) the song gains a slightly disturbing and dramatic edge, Young and Garcia’s guitars bite deep. The finger pointing lyrics are sung in huge super group choral fashion featuring but not limited to Crosby, Nash, Grace Slick, Paul Kantner, Laura Allen and possibly Crosby’s brother Ethan. A stunning start to side two and a commentary on the organic creation of the music contained on the record.

Traction in the Rain’ follows next and allows time for Crosby acoustic introspection. The drumless melody hangs weightless on woody strums and finds Crosby and Nash on shimmering acoustics and Laura Allen contributing on beautiful and cascading auto harp. Crosby’s vocals are some of the finest on the record and the song would become a highlight of future Crosby/Nash duo performances.

‘Song with No Words (Tree with No Leaves)’ is a prismatic meditation where in a role reversal, the music colours and supports the stunning wordless Crosby/Nash vocal melody. The supporting players act as one swirling instrument enveloped into each other through intent listening. The players cannot always be confirmed on these resulting tracks, but my ear hears, Garcia, Kaukonen, Shreive, Nash and possibly Young on piano. In the ‘rock room’s humble opinion one of the finest tracks on the record.

The final two songs of the LP are also wordless compositions. In many ways this increases the emotional effectiveness and melodic strength contained within the numbers. ‘Orleans’ is a traditional French children’s song that lists the cathedrals of France. Of course Crosby arranges it into a strange and weaving mood piece based around overdubbed acoustics and his perfectly stratified vocals.

The album closes with the exhilarating and supernatural ‘I’d Swear There Was Somebody Here’. A vocal only movement, Crosby is quoted as saying he was in a good place, high as a kite and experimenting with the echo chamber in Wally Heider’s studio. Crosby sang six different parts developed on the spot, vocally improvised and bringing into existence a masterful representation of his recently departed love. Crosby felt that the creation of this song was initiated by Christine visiting him and/or making her presence known to him during the song’s genesis. Something is definitely happening during the brief apparitional and aural experience. This song epitomizes what this music is all about, remembering, feeling, expressing and being in the moment. The track is a fitting conclusion to the record and inspiring statement of Crosby’s talent and the towering importance of the record in the pantheon of rock history.

David Crosby’s musical journey is a tale rife with contradictions. There’s the obvious brilliance he first shared while with the Byrds and then, later, his contributions to America’s first true supergroup, Crosby, Stills, Nash and (at times) Young. By having a hand in the writing of songs that helped define both bands—among them, such enduring classics as “Lady Friend,” “Why” and “Eight Miles High” for the former, and “Guinnevere,” “Wooden Ships,” “Almost Cut My Hair” and “Déjà Vu” for the latter—he played a major role in establishing a timeless template that reflected a freedom-first attitude of the ’60s that resonates even today. Likewise, his rich tenor and unmistakable jazz-like sensibilities imbued each group with a firm foundation for their exacting vocal harmonies. Crosby also helped establish a free-flowing communal kind of creativity, another distinctive element that led to a more synchronous sound.

Engineer Stephen Barncard had his reservations when he was assigned to do the record, referring to Crosby’s reputation as being that of an “asshole.” However in Crosby’s autobiography Long Time Gone, he describes the recording, which began in November 1970, as “the most exhilarating project I’ve ever done in my life…It was a loose setup…but I learned to relax with it and before we knew it we were ready to mix.”

Crosby and chief Byrd watcher Roger McGuinn clashed when Crosby insisted the group record his ode to hedonism, “Triad,” a song that celebrated the joys of a ménage à trois (they didn’t record it, but Jefferson Airplane happily included it on one of their albums). During 1967’s Monterey Pop Festival, Crosby broke ranks with a rant about a Kennedy assassination coverup, after which he famously took the stage with Buffalo Springfield, filling in for an absent Neil Young.

If I Could Only Remember My Name is not only a career defining statement for David Crosby it is also a commentary on the collaborative and communal environment surrounding music in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Friends created music on this record, credits or royalties did not matter. What mattered was sharing in the making of something bigger and better than its individual components. The songs contained on this record are inspired by the joy of giving and creating and the proof lies within the jagged grooves of its vinyl. The record is arguably David Crosby’s finest achievement and a photographic capture of some of the contributing musician’s finest moments ever committed to tape. The record is a standard of the rock room and a must have addition to any rock collection . (Note: an outtake from the sessions, “Kids and Dogs,” later included on Crosby’s Voyage anthology, would also have found a fit within that surreal setting.)(There are also a multitude of outtakes of the sessions available for those willing to search)

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what amazing harmonies Crosby’s vocal is just sublime and Still’s guitar parts are just perfect this is really an extraordinary version
Vocals:David Crosby,Stephen Stills & Graham Nash,Lead guitar: Stephen Stills,Electric rhythm guitar: David Crosby,Acoustic guitar, harmonica: Neil Young, Organ: Graham Nash, Bass: Greg Reeves, Drums: Dallas Taylor
Recorded at Stephen’s house, Laurel Canyon, Los Angeles, December 28,1969; Vocal overdubs: Sunset Sound, Los Angeles, August 1, 1991. here is another take from the Stills Box Set, “Carry On”

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this is just such a great take of one of Neil Young’s classic songs taken from the “After The Goldrush” Neil’s solo album the band do a incredible version pure to the original.