Posts Tagged ‘David Crosby’

Singer-songwriter David Crosby’s solo debut, “If I Could Only Remember My Name”, was dismissed by critics when it came out in 1971. Over the years, however, appreciation has grown for the album’s adventurous aesthetic, stacked harmonies and haunting lyrics about loss and confusion. Billed as Crosby’s solo debut, the album was anything but a one-man project. Instead, it was one of his most collaborative efforts, featuring an all-star cast of players that included members of the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, and Santana, along with Graham Nash, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, and others.

If I Could Only Remember My Name” has turned 50 years old earlier this year and Rhino Records is celebrating with a 2CD set that includes the album lovingly remastered from the original analogue tapes, accompanied by a bonus disc that features a dozen unreleased demos, outtakes, and alternative versions. The new remaster was overseen by original album engineer Stephen Barncard with restoration and speed correction using Plangent Processes. The liner notes that accompany the collection were written by Steve Silberman, co-author of Skeleton Key: A Dictionary for Deadheads.

Many believe that the best art emerges from times of psychological struggle and/or philosophical unrest. That was the case in late 1970, when David Crosby recorded his first solo album, “If I Could Only Remember My Name”.

Crosby should have been riding high, mainly due to the enormous success of CSNY’s “Déjà Vu”album, which was released in March that year. Instead, he remained tormented by the sudden death of his girlfriend Christine Hinton, who was killed in a freak car accident on December.30th 1969.

His personal grief, alongside the unsettled feeling that fills you when a loved one passes before their time, became a key ingredient in the often amorphous, even eerie nature of the 1971 record.

The original nine songs (a 10th was added for the 2006 reissue and is also included here) reflected the pensive, melancholy mindset of Crosby at the time. These tracks were recorded at San Francisco’s famous Wally Heider studios, which was also the home to music created by most of the West Coast’s biggest acts.

Members of Santana, the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane, along with friends Neil Young and Graham Nash, all contributed to the music; creating a loose all-star line-up that changed for each tune. Jerry Garcia, who swung by nightly, was a dependable presence; his distinctive, snaking guitar lines contribute deeply to the sessions’ overall dreamy vibe. “There’d be that grin, and then that look in the eyes, and this fascination with the music,” Crosby recalls. “Easy, not forced, graceful, fun, ever-present. It was a kindness, I’m pretty sure. Jerry never said that, never even implied it. Just, ‘Hey, I heard you were doing something. What are you doing? Let’s do something.”

From the opening ‘Music Is Love’, which emerged out of a jam and was later moulded into a song by Young and Nash, to the wordless, floating melody of the closing eight minutes of ‘I’d Swear There Was Somebody Here’, the disc sets a contemplative tone.

The latter track, which Crosby has said “It felt like Christine was there. I could feel her”, shifts from a ghostly moan to a lengthy and subtle improvisation, enhanced both by Garcia’s acoustic and electric playing.

Only the appropriately titled ‘Cowboy Movie’ shifts the proceedings into tougher territory.

It describes the dissolution of a gang of Old West thieves, narrated and often shouted by Crosby in a hoarse howl (he later explained it was about the tensions of his CSNY group), as Garcia’s stinging guitar and Phil Lesh’s rubbery bass craft an intensity that only ramps up over the song’s length.

The slowly surging electric beat, somewhat like the rhythm of ‘Almost Cut My Hair’, is the album’s longest and most propulsive moment.

Other lyric-free inclusions are ‘Tamalpais High (At About 3)’ and the self-explanatory ‘Song with No Words (Tree With No Leaves)’, which punctuate other meditative, largely wistful fare, such as the lovely ‘Laughing’ and the elegant, heavenly autoharp that enhances ‘Traction in the Rain’. Crosby’s voice is never less than moving – always emotionally invested in the loosely structured, fluid material.

Initially dismissed by critics (Robert Christgau gave it a D- in a particularly scathing review), the singer/songwriter’s only solo stab for decades (his next came 19 drug-infested years later, of which he largely spent in prison) has gradually been elevated as a sort of freak-folk forerunner.

The reflective, mostly nebulous, even hazy approach is certainly not for everyone. But the meticulously remastered sound here emphasizes the music’s subtleties and the sense of camaraderie among the high-profile supporting musicians, all intent on helping Crosby craft music through this trying period.

Crosby followed up If I… with a series of generally well-regarded duo projects, working alongside and co-credited to Graham Nash. Their music was more structured but with less atmosphere and mystery, due to Nash’s pop-oriented compositions.

The 50th Anniversary Edition follows the established blueprint for many of these similarly lengthened packages. Like the expansive Déjà Vu from earlier this year, it adds mostly interesting demos and alternate takes.

Some, like the 10-minute ‘Cowboy Movie’ featuring Neil Young’s scorching guitar solo, have already been available, specifically on 2006’s lavish, expertly compiled three-disc Voyages. Others, such as an early acoustic, lyric-less ‘Dancer’ and ‘The Wall Song’, appeared on later Crosby-Nash releases.

A few, exemplified by the sweet, acoustic rumination ‘Coast Road’, would have made reasonable additions to the original, while the opening guitar and vocal of ‘Riff 1’ is a good example of Crosby searching for a melody as he hums along.

It’s pleasant but generally for hardcore fans. Unfortunately, at under an hour, the compilers had room but chose not to include any live versions. Also, 2006’s now out of print, expertly constructed 5.1 DVD audio remix, is MIA and would have been a logical inclusion.

David Crosby’s recent creative surge finds him rediscovering a muse some thought might have been lost forever, in a haze of drug and firearm legal issues throughout the decades since “If I Could Only Remember My Name” hit the shelves.

This reissue goes a long way to completing Crosby’s life and creative cycle that, now at 80 year of age, remains vibrant and shows no sign of slowing down soon.

Tracklist:

1. Music Is Love
2. Cowboy Movie
3. Tamalpais High (At About 3)
4. Laughing
5. What Are Their Names
6. Traction In The Rain
7. Song With No Words (Tree With No Leaves)
8. Orleans
9. I’d Swear There Was Somebody Here

Bonus Track
10. Kids And Dogs

CD Two: Bonus Tracks

Demos
1. Riff 1 – Demo *
2. Tamalpais High (At About 3) – Demo *
3. Kids And Dogs – Demo *
4. The Wall Song – Demo *
5. Games – Demo *
6. Laughing – Demo *
7. Song With No Words (Tree With No Leaves) – Demo
8. Where Will I Be – Demo *

Sessions
9. Cowboy Movie – Alternate Version *
10. Bach Mode – Pre-Critical Mass *
11. Coast Road *
12. Dancer *
13. Fugue *

* previously unreleased

David Crosby at his home in Santa Ynez, Calif.

David Crosby is a long time Steely Dan super fan; he’s called Donald Fagen one of his all-time song writing heroes, and he lists Aja and the Royal Scam among his favourite albums ever created. But he never actually got a chance to work with Fagen until the sessions for his upcoming LP “For Free” (out July 23rd) where they teamed up to create “Rodriguez for a Night.”

“I’m so honoured he gave us a set of words,” said Crosby “I’ve been asking him for a couple of years. He started to trust us, I think. It took a long time, but he gave us a set of words that are really wonderful and we just wrote the shit out of them.”

The music was created by Crosby and his son/bandmate James Raymond, and it features Andrew Ford on bass, Dean Parks on guitar, Gary Novak on drums, Michelle Willis and Becca Stevens on background vocals, Steve Tavaglione on tenor sax, Walt Fowler on fluegelhorn and trumpet, and Raymond on Fender Rhodes, synthesizers, percussion, and synth guitar.

The song is about an insecure “drugstore cowboy” that loses his girlfriend to a cocky rival he calls “the outlaw Rodriguez.” “It was then that her heart took flight,” Crosby sings. “Well, now I’d sell my soul if I could only be/Rodriguez for just one night.”

For Free is Crosby’s fifth record since 2014. And even though the title track is a cover of a 1970 Joni Mitchell classic and Fagen helped out with the “Rodriguez for a Night” lyrics, the vast majority of the songs were written by Crosby and Raymond. The last song, “I Won’t Stay For Long,” is a sparse, haunting ballad credited solely to Raymond.

“‘I Won’t Stay for Long’ is my favourite song on the record,” Crosby said in a release. “I’ve listened to it 100 times now and it still reaches out and grabs me, it’s so painfully beautiful. I did end up getting a pretty stunning vocal on it, because it meant so much to me that I sang the hell out of it. One thing James and I both believe is that songs are an art form and a treasure — so when a song comes along that’s as good as that one, we’ll just give it everything we got.”

Crosby hasn’t played live since the pandemic hit, and he initially worried his long absence from the road would cause him tremendous financial pain and the possible loss of his house. But in March, he sold off his publishing rights to Irving Azoff Iconic Artists Group, putting him on much firmer financial footing.

Crosby he turns 80 in August and has expressed concern that he may never play guitar again due to trigger-finger tendinitis in his hands. But his singing voice remains extremely strong, and he’s very pleased with the end result of For Free. “I think people are going to love the record,” he said last year. “I think people are going to like the music. And that is great. That is what I’m holding onto, fiercely, to try and get through all the crazy. And there’s a lot of crazy.”

From the upcoming album “For Free”

DAVID CROSBY – ” For Free “

Posted: June 5, 2021 in MUSIC
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Legendary singer/songwriter David Crosby‘s solo career renaissance continues in 2021 with news of another new studio album, For Free, coming July 23rd . His latest effort arrives one month before his 80th birthday, on August. 14th. has been more prolific in the past decade than it ever has before, and he has just now announced a new solo album it will be his fifth since his 2014 comeback album “Croz” called “For Free” and due July 23 via BMG Records. The album was made with Crosby’s son James Raymond, who also produced 2017’s “Sky Trail’s” and it was made with some of the same musicians of that album. “Can you imagine what it’s like to connect with your son and find out that he’s incredibly talented—a great composer, a great poet, and a really fine songwriter and musician all around?” Crosby asks. “We’re such good friends and we work so well together, and we’ll each go to any length to create the highest-quality songs we can.”

It also features contributions from Michael McDonald, Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen, and Sarah Jarosz, the latter of whom appears on the title track, which is a cover of the classic song by Crosby’s long time friend and collaborator Joni Mitchell.

“Joni’s the greatest living singer/songwriter, and ‘For Free’ is one of her simplest,” Crosby said. “It’s one of my favourite songs because I love what it says about the spirit of music and what compels you to play.

The first single is opening track “River Rise,” a folk and jazz tinged song which features Michael McDonaldFor Free also includes a track penned by Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen expressly for the album. “Steely Dan’s my favourite band and I’ve admired Donald a long time, so that was a thrill for us,” he says. A sharply detailed portrait of outlaws, angels, and drugstore cowboys, “Rodriguez For a Night” merges Fagen’s sophisticated storytelling with Crosby’s warmly commanding vocal presence.

Crosby taps another friend for the album’s striking cover art, using a portrait Joan Baez painted of him.

From the album “For Free” BMG Rights Management

No photo description available.

‘Déjà Vu Alternates’ from Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, is a recreation of their immensely popular second album, Déjà Vu featuring alternate versions of songs which appeared on the original album. The iconic album which featured “Teach Your Children,” “Woodstock,” “Our House,” and “Helpless,” will showcase these alternate versions on vinyl for the first time and feature a cover that mirrors the original album with an alternate photo from the cover shoot. Pressed on 180 gram black vinyl and limited to 10,000 copies, get yours in stores starting July 17th as part of Record Store Day Drops. https://recordstoreday.com/

One year after its actual golden anniversary, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s Déjà Vu will be receiving a 50th Anniversary deluxe edition with hours of rare and unreleased studio recordings. The March 17th, 2021 announcement described the original as “the most-anticipated new album in America in 1970.” The album includes such legendary songs.  Rhino will be releasing an expansive 4-CD/1-LP collection on May 14th that includes a “pristine” version of the original album on both 180-gram vinyl and CD, plus hours of rare and unreleased studio recordings “that provide incredible insight into the making of the record.” 

You can also listen to the outtake “Ivory Tower” and the previously unreleased demo for “Birds,” recorded during the sessions. On the new edition, the March 11th, 1970 album’s original 10 tracks are joined by 38 more to add nearly two-and-a-half hours of music that includes demos, outtakes, and alternate takes – most of which are previously unreleased. Among them is “Know You Got to Run,” the first song the quartet recorded during its first session on July 15th at the house Stills was renting from Peter Tork in Studio City.

“Ivory Tower” was one of Stills’ contributions to the Déjà Vu sessions that was ultimately left off of the final album. The song morphed and changed over the years, and was eventually released on a later Stills’ solo project as “Little Miss Bright Eyes.”

Other unreleased highlights include the demo for Crosby’s “Almost Cut My Hair”; Stills’ outtake for “Bluebird Revisited”; and Young’s alternate version of “Helpless” featuring harmonica. Also making its debut on the set is a delightful version of “Our House” that features Nash singing with the song’s inspiration, Joni Mitchell.

This ad for the “Woodstock” single appeared in the March 28th, 1970, issue of Record World

See the source image

From the announcement: Déjà Vu: 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition will be presented in a 12 x 12 hardcover book. The collection comes illustrated with rarely seen photos from the era and annotated by writer/filmmaker Cameron Crowe, whose revealing liner notes recount the making of the album through stories told by the people who were there, including David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, and Neil Young. On the same day, a deluxe vinyl version will also be available with the full content across 5 LPs of 180-gram vinyl. Crowe recalls in the liner notes that “Déjà Vu caught the zeitgeist perfectly” and “might just be the legendary band’s most accurate portrait of their fiery individualism.” Of this new Deluxe Edition, Crowe says: “50 years later, with the sonic aperture fully opened, it’s a wide-screen look at the big picture of Déjà Vu, with more music, including a batch of surprises, unseen photos, and a lot more clarity.”

In 2020, Nash, CSNY’s de facto archivist, said, “it will have a lot of stuff that people have never heard before. We found that the master tapes… are still fresh.”

Déjà Vu Alternates from Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young is a recreation of their immensely popular second album,Déjà Vu, featuring alternate versions of songs which appeared on the original album.  The iconic album which featured “Teach Your Children,” “Woodstock,” “Our House” and “Helpless” will showcase these alternate versions on vinyl for the first time after appearing on CD as part of the box set due in May. It will also feature a cover that mirrors the original album with an alternate photo from the cover shoot.

See the source image

David Crosby’s now classic debut solo album “If I Could Only Remember My Name” featured members of CSN&Y, Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and Santana on the illustrious guest list. If I Could Only Remember My Name was regarded as one of the best sounding albums of the early 70s but this is some of the coolest Crosby you’ll ever hear.

What is Perro Sessions? : The Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra is a nickname given to artists who recorded together in the early 1970s. They were predominantly members of Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service, and Crosby, Stills and Nash. Their first album recorded together was “Blows Against the Empire”, when they were known as Jefferson Starship. The name changed to Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra for the next album, David Crosby’s If I Could Only Remember My Name.

During the sessions for Crosby’s album at Wally Heider Studios, the musicians of each band were invited to the sessions and rehearsed hours of material, and everything was recorded. Material played during these recorded sessions in 1971 was used for Crosby’s album (the “Perro Chorus” is credited on the song, “What Are Their Names”) and several other solo albums after Crosby’s . The name Jefferson Starship was later used for Paul Kantner and Grace Slick’s new band formed in 1974. Paul Kantner recorded a solo album in 1983 as a tribute to this time, Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra.

The material on the Perro tapes was very interesting, but had nothing to do with CSNY. There were 4 reels of 2 track mixes made in 1971 during the sessions (obviously there is more that has never been mixed). The tapes were put into storage in Nash’s vault. Paul called Nash in 1992 and requested DATs of those tapes. This was the first time they had been outside of the CSNY organization. They were copied at A&M Post Production audio and my personal DAT was made at that time. The roots of Perro go back a lot further than 1971. 1 guess it had its inception in the early years of the ’60s (prior to the Airplane, the Byrds et al) when Kantner, Crosby and Freiberg used to hang out, play music, get high and rap together around Venice Beach. That was the initial bond, the start of it all.

The “PERRO Chorus” is credited on Crosby’s song, “What Are Their Names” and several other solo albums after Crosby’s. The name Jefferson Starship was later used for Paul Kantner and Grace Slick’s new band formed in 1974. Paul Kantner recorded a solo album in 1983 as a tribute to this time, Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra.

Later, when they were in bands of their own, there were occasional points of interaction – like Garcia sitting in on the ‘Surrealistic Pillow’ sessions, like Crosby giving “Triad” to the Airplane when he couldn’t get the Byrds to record it, like Kantner, Crosby and Stills writing “Wooden Ships”.

Then, as the ’60s drew to a close, two sets of circumstances combined to bring the Planet Earth Rock And Roll Dream a whole lot nearer. One was the opening of Wally Heider’s studio in San Francisco – because now the local SF musicians (Airplane, Quicksilver, Dead) had a place on their doorstep where they could record. This gave item freedom from the corporate studios to record and produce as they saw fit, to come and go more as they pleased and to invite the musical neighbourhood in if they chose. (It hadn’t been so easy when they were holed up at RCA’s or Warner’s studios in Hollywood.) The other catalyst was the state of flux that a lot of bands were falling into by 1969/1970, for Crosby had left the Byrds, the Airplane was a less cohesive force with Dryden out and Hot Tuna splitting off, and Dino Valenti’s arrival had unsettled QMS.

Things had come pretty much full circle by the end of the decade. Kantner was again hanging out with Crosby (quite often on the latter’s yacht) and with David Freiberg – and, when Paul came to assemble musicians to record ‘Blows Against The Empire’, it wasn’t just to his Airplane cohorts that he turned but also to Crosby and Garcia and even Graham Nash – who’d just bought a house in Frisco and ended up producing the whole second side of the ‘Blows…’ album at Heider’s studio. ‘Blows…” was the first album by that collection of musicians whom Paul liked to term the Planet Earth Rock And Roll Orchestra.

The fact that he billed the album as being by Jefferson Starship shouldn’t mislead anyone. Kantner, Crosby, Slick, Freiberg, Nash, Garcia, Kaukonen, Lesh, Casady, Kreutzmann, Hart – these people were the Planet Earth Rock And Roll Orchestra, supporting each other on key projects.

Blows Against The Empire

As Grace recalls, “These sessions were like ‘Uh, do you wanna play guitar on this one?’ ‘No, man, I have to go to the bathroom.’ ‘Okay, David, you wanna play?’ ‘Sure’. Whoever felt like doing something did it. Parts interchanged, people interchanged.”

Graham Nash says “They asked me my opinion and I just jumped right in. Grace, Paul, David – they let me do whatever I heard. I was searching for this kind of environment when I came to America and when I was mixing in the studio our imaginations were running rampant. We were creating virtual kingdoms with music.”
The second such PERRO project was David Crosby’s debut solo album, ‘If I Could Only Remember My Name’, which features all of the above-mentioned Planet Earthers plus the likes of Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Greg Rolie and Mike Shrieve from the band Santana.

They come from sessions at Wally Heider’s San Francisco studios in 1971. Crosby had sailed his boat up to Sausalito harbour. Nash was resident in the Haight. Kantner and Slick had moved out to Bolinas and the Dead were in Mill Valley but they would all head for Wally’s of an evening to work on PERRO songs. Some of these things ended up on Crosby’s solo, a couple on Garcia’s solo, one on Grace’s album, one on Paul’s 1983 ‘Planet Earth...’ album – and some have never seen the light of day, in which case we’ve had to guess at what they might be title.

“Walkin’ In The Mountains” (1′ 47n): A Crosby composition featuring typically attractive chordings, but little in the way of finished lyrics. “All the words we got so far are just ideas of places we’d like to go,- he tells Garcia at the start of this…

> “I went walkin’ out last summer> Tryin’ to find a breath of air.> I went walkin’ in the mountains> A friend had told me I’d find you there”

comprises just about all the words he has, but the feel is so airy and open you can almost smell that mountain air. The sequence makes a surprise reappearance later in the tape, as an intro to version four of ‘The Mountain Song’.

Barncard: Two of the versions are actually the same performance, the second remixed a little better.

Is It Really Monday?” (4′ 55″): Crosby again, and this one begins with his acoustic guitar and the composer scat-singing the abstruse melody. When the lyrics arrive, he asks:

> “Is it really Monday? > I must have been here before. > Is it really Monday? > I think the walls begin to speak.”

The tempo is very slow, in a country blues vein and Garcia adds some restrained picking. The lugubrious bass sounds like that of Phil Lesh.

“Under Anesthesia” (5′ 14″): The timing includes a false start of about 45 seconds, after which Crosby calls a halt and announces ‘No, that’s not it. Started too slow, it’s outta time and I didn’t get the right words!” When he does, it’s another hugely impressive song, the lyrical angle of which is to bemoan the inertia of the common man – who is portrayed as stupefied by beer and TV. At the conclusion, Crosby launches into a brief sequence on guitar and comments ‘I thought I’d try something original…if I write another song in E Minor, man, I’m gonna get fired!’

*This song is actually called “You Sit There”

“Loser” (8′ 41″): The timing includes several restarts and Jerry explaining – and indeed demonstrating – the chord progression to his colleagues, who could well be Crosby, Lesh and Papa John*. There’s certainly a violin in here and it works especially well, counterpointing the three guitars most effectively. *Papa John never hung out in PERRO sessions. Possibily David Freiberg on viola.

It’s obviously an early run through the song as Jerry doesn’t have much more than the first verse written. The second crack has more audible vocals, but Garcia still resorts to “da da das” from the second verse on. The bridge is there, at least intact musically, even if the only line Jerry seems sure about is the closing “Don’t let that deal go down” The genesis of a great song.

If I Could Only Remember My Name

“Over Jordan” (3′ 30″): Another Crosby song, replete with a beautiful structure, but short on completed lyrics. It begins with David’s rippling acoustic guitar which is soon joined by that of Garcia for some impressive picking.

> “I’m only going over Jordan, > Just a-goin” to my home”

sings Crosby, but after a couple of minutes he declares that he’s forgotten the changes, so restarts the performance at the bridge. This is a delightful half-song which the composer should really have completed and recorded at some stage. *Also called “Wayfaring Stranger”

“The Mountain Song – 1″ (5′ 11″): This is the first of several attempts at what would eventually become a slice of classic Airmachine. However, at this stage, the only fragment of the song they had to work with was the line “Gonna make the mountains be my home” and the chord-sequence that supported it, so it’s quite amazing that from such a meager base Kantner, Slick, Crosby and Garcia (possibly with Casady and Hart) are able to conjure 23 minutes of undulating beauty. There’s a banjo featured prominently, plus two acoustic guitars and Grace’s distinctive piano. The banjo is Paul K.& the touches are so accomplished, it’s Kantner on the five- string with Garcia and Crosby on guitars. Surprisingly, there’s no trace of Paul’s vocal – though the other three take care of that handsomely enough.

Early on, it’s Jerry singing the line in orthodox fashion, while Grace embellishes with some improvised lyrics around the theme. Then Crosby takes Grace’s place and scats around Jerry’s vocal for a while. As you’d expect, the playing is loose and slightly tentative on this first version, but no less affecting for all that.

“The Mountain Song – 2″ (5′ 17″): Grace is back providing an improvised descant to Jerry’s straight vocal at the start here, and she’s singing about the sky and the river as he eulogizes the mountains. After a minute or so, Crosby introduces his scat and Grace leaves the chorus to concentrate on her keyboards. Her vocal chords are re-engaged towards the close.

“The Mountain Song – 3″ (3′ 44″): This version begins with Jerry and David singing the line and Grace gliding around them. Briefly, Crosby supersedes her in this role but soon the two of them are improvising around the structure as Jerry perseveres in the middle. At the end of this effort, Paul is heard to remark “It sounds like everybody’s going in and out of time” to which Crosby responds “No, no, no, it’s all working – and it works perfectly.” The listener is strongly inclined to agree with him.

“The Mountain Song – 4″ (8′ 20″): As you’ll see, this is the longest version and undoubtedly the most satisfying of the four. This is where Crosby’s embryonic “Walkin’ In The Mountains” suddenly reemerges and he goes through the verse and various chord sequences as an introduction to “The Mountain Song,” to which it bridges seamlessly and beautifully. It’s a remarkable segue which makes the listener keenly aware of how the song could have developed in a very different direction had Crosby stayed to contribute throughout its evolution. Speculation aside, what we do have is a return to the familiar pattern of banjo, guitars, bass, piano and percussion. Crosby reverts to his scatted counterpoint before it slips into a stunning instrumental section. Herein, the music weaves a genuinely hypnotic spell as it rolls effortlessly along the bed of Paul’s banjo and Grace’s piano, with Garcia picking exquisitely. After several minutes of this, the vocal pattern is re-introduced, now in a more restrained vein against instrumentation which has become subdued, with Grace and the Crosby gently dancing around Jerry to the finale of a wonderful excursion.

A definite high point on this portion of the tape Mountains v. 4 reaches its apex (a phenomenal passage in it’s own right), when the band led by Jerry starts coaxing out a proto version of  Loser and a brief reprise of Deal including a pause to recapitulate the chords.  Then there is a cold cut in the tape and Jerry plainly recounts the chord progression: C-Em-Am-G-Am.  At which point they go into Deal proper.

“Wild Turkey” (4′ 20″)(AKA “Leather Winged Bat”): An interesting improvisation with Jorma and Jack at the controls, this may or may not be an early styling of what became the dynamic duo’s “Bark” instrumental. It certainly starts off that way, with Kaukonen roaring out some aggressive electric noise and Casady on a familiar rumble. But soon it settles into something much gentler, employing a more reflective chord progression. Jorma’s playing rises and falls in a fairly relaxed manner – until the finale, when he stirs it back towards the “Turkey” structure with some more  combative lead guitar. It could well be that Jack and Jorma decided the split-mood approach didn’t work and restructured the number as the wholly aggressive strut we encountered on ‘Bark’. Whatever, it’s a nicely balanced piece and a pleasure to hear.

“Jorma & Jerry’s Jam – 1″ (14′ 22″): If the previous outing was a pleasure, this jam is a sensation! As readers will be aware, there’s little recorded evidence of Kaukonen and. Garcia essaying their remarkable skills together, so this is a rare chance to hear the fruits of one such collaboration. Backed up by the supple bass of Jack Casady plus solid percussion (Mickey Hart?), this is a quarter-hour of incisive and responsive musicianship – intuitively structured and beautifully realized. Jorma leads it off on electric guitar, his playing funky and rich in wah-wah, whilst Jerry complements it with a more subdued style. Casady is well mixed and excellent, but it’s Jorma’s sprawling mass of notes which take center stage in this section; hot, handy and winding all over the soundscape in unfettered rampage. Having played a disciplined supporting role for the first half of the jam – his accomplished touches providing the perfect foil to Jorma’s aggression – Jerry assumes control for the second phase. Initially calm after the Kaukonen storm, this movement gradually builds over several minutes into a fabulous jam, delightfully evolved and transfixing the listener as it develops. Jerry’s playing gets less lyrical, more earthy, until it is stylistically much closer to his partner’s earlier contribution. Naturally, Jorma then resumes the lead and steers the ensemble to a nicely judged conclusion. It would be perfectly reasonable to hail this example of superlative sparring as San Francisco jamming at its very finest.

“The Wall Song -1″ (6′ 00″): After a waggish intro from the composer, we’re into a captivating version of a Crosby song which appeared in 1972 on the LP ‘Graham Nash David Crosby.’ On that take, the duo were backed by Garcia, Lesh and Kreutzmann and there’s no reason to suppose that the same trio isn’t in support here. The real distinction between the released version and this is the absence of Nash – though this is more than ably compensated for by the double-tracking of Crosby’s wonderful voice, which provides an imaginative and memorable harmony. But there’s a bonus. Just when listeners familiar with the 1972 record expect the track to finish, there’s a lovely instrumental excursion with Garcia in winning form, shuffling percussion from Bill and a gentle ripple from Lesh. Really, this is so good it eclipses the official release by some distance – and should clearly have been included in the CS&N box of 1991.

“The Wall Song – 2″ (4′ 27″): Again, David is doubly tracked, but this time there’s only his own acoustic guitar in support, and the performance is generally a little lazier than before.

“Eep Hour” (4′ 44″): A very dissimilar reading from the one which appeared on ‘Garcia’ and which had keyboard and pedal steel dominating the sound. This is just the acoustic guitars and bass and has a very Spanish ambiance. Presuming that Jerry isn’t multi-tracked and playing everything himself – as he did on his album – we might take the other participants to be Lesh and either Kantner or Crosby. *Jack Casady plays bass on EEP HOUR

At the close, there’s a whoop of triumph from somebody and what sounds like Kantner’s voice saying ‘everybody just have a little break from their guitar strings!’

“Shuffle” (2′ 20″): Two guitars (one electric), bass and drums glide effortlessly down a four-chord structure for a couple of minutes. The drums shuffle effectively but nothing much happens and the piece sounds more like an intro to something more substantial than an entity in itself.

“Jorma & Jerry’s Jam – 2″ (14′ 29″): This has a slightly longer introduction than its earlier incarnation (i.e. it starts a few seconds before) but is otherwise identical to the first version.

These tapes are a fabulous find, showing as they do the formative stages of some classic songs and hinting at others, notably by Crosby, that could have been among the best things he never recorded.

Personal: David Crosby — guitars, vocals Laura Allan – autoharp, vocal Jack Casady – bass David Freiberg – vocal Jerry Garcia — guitars, pedal steel guitar, vocal Mickey Hart — drums Paul Kantner – vocal Jorma Kaukonen – guitar Bill Kreutzmann — drums, tambourine Phil Lesh — bass, vocal Joni Mitchell – vocals Graham Nash — guitar, vocals Gregg Rolie – piano Michael Shrieve – drums Grace Slick – vocal Neil Young — guitars, bass, vibraphone, congas, vocals

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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, 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 78 years old, has had a stellar career. A singer-songwriter and guitarist, he wrote or co-wrote classics like “Wooden Ships,” “Eight Miles High,’ “Deja Vu,” “Guinnevere,” and “Lady Friend,” among many others. 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), made six solo albums, and collaborated with Graham Nash on five long players.

The man is prolific. He has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the Byrds and Crosby, Stills & Nash

David Crosby: “Remember My Name” is a 2019 documentary about the musician David Crosby. It was directed by A.J. Eaton and produced by Cameron Crowe. The title is a play on the title of Crosby’s 1971 album If I Could Only Remember My Name. The film had its festival debut at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. It is distributed by Sony Pictures Classics.

As the movie opens, Crosby is telling a story from back in the day when they were playing a gig in Chicago. Let’s just say, it involves drugs (of course!). Along the way we learn that he is now 76 (when this was filmed in 2017), and that he regrets having wasted so much time “smashed on drugs” (Crosby’s words). He is getting ready for another tour (as a solo artist). “I love singing but I hate leaving (home)”, Crosby confesses. “Me no music? Never. I NEED to tour.” At this point we are less than 10 min. into the movie.

Couple of comments: even though the film is technically directed by a certain A.J. Eaton, Cameron Crowe’s fingers are all over this, including as producer and also having interviewed Crosby back in 1974, when he was all of 17 (that interview comes up in this documentary). The basic premise of the film is as simple as it is revealing: let the man talk, and add archive clips where there are available (easier said than done). Crosby turns out to be a master story teller, and he does not mince words, including about himself. “I have been selfish and I’ve hurt a lot of people”, Crosby admits. Byrds band mate Roger McGuinn puts it this way: “Insufferable”, wow. Along the way, we get treated to an outstanding amount of audio and video clips of his music. Quite a collection when you line it up like that. I enjoyed this documentary overall, and feel it is a nice companion to the “Echo in the Canyon” documentary from earlier this year.

“David Crosby: Remember My Name” premiered to immediate acclaim at this year’s Sundance film festival.  If you are a fan of David Crosby or interested in rock music history, I’d readily suggest you check this out, be it in the theater, on VOD, or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray, and draw your own conclusion.

Meet David Crosby in this portrait of a man with everything but an easy retirement on his mind.

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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.

The Byrds: Turn! Turn! Turn! —

The signature guitar orchestra led by McGuinn’s jangly twelve-string Rickenbacker dominates the music of the opening title track, “Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There is a Season)”. These guitars are complimented by perfectly harmonized vocals, and Clarke’s rolling drum pattern under the chorus sections. While it is filled with so much sustained guitar textures, it stops on a dime several times between each verse/chorus sequence, including a false ending before a coda with extra intensity. The song was originally composed by Pete Seeger in the late 1950s, with many of the lyrics were lifted from Chapter 3 of the Book of Ecclesiastes, possibly written by King Solomon in the 10th century BC. With that, the song holds the distinction as the #1 pop hit with the oldest lyrics.

Like the opener, “It Won’t Be Wrong”, is another upbeat track but with more standard love song style lyrics. Co-written by McGuinn and Harvey Gerstand, this track features some interesting style changes which make it unconventional and a bit strange. Clark’s, “Set You Free This Time”, is a country/pop flavored track, especially in its vocal approach. In fact, this is the first song to feature solo lead singer, with harmonies used sparingly and with Clark’s fine harmonica solo as the song fades out.

“Lay Down Your Weary Tune”, is the first of two Bob Dylan covers on the album and is set up like a spiritual with the chorus/hook featuring heavy harmonies. Musically, this song has much the same jangly vibe and strong drums as previous tracks, but with an added heavy bass presence by Hillman. The first side concludes with an original rendition of the traditional folk tune, “He Was a Friend of Mine”, a finger-picked acoustic song with stripped down arrangement and a slight, distant organ by Melcher under the later verses.

“The World Turns All Around Her”, is a fine, pop-oriented composition by Clark which may only suffer from lack of strong rhythm presence in production mix. “Satisfied Mind”, follows as a country-esque cover of a folk song by Red Hayes and Jack Rhodes. Along with the fine sparse instrumentation and harmonica lead, this track is highlighted by profound and philosophical lyrics;

Money won’t buy back your youth when you’re old, a friend when you’re lonely or a love that’s grown cold / The wealthiest person is a pauper at times compared to the man with a satisfied mind…”

Clark’s, “If You’re Gone”, is different than any other track on the album. Vocal-centric with a slow-rock backing, the song has distinct and interesting, almost haunting, chanting low-register vocals. While not quite as potent as their cover of, “Mr Tambourine Man”, the Byrds’ cover of, “The Times They Are a-Changin’” ,still dekuvers somewhat of an interesting arrangement of the Dylan classic.

Further, the group members were pleasantly surprised when Beatles George Harrison and Paul McCartney showed up during the recording of this track. “Wait and See”, is the only song to feature Crosby as a co-writer, along with McGuinn, while the group chose to do a souped up version of the popular campfire song, “Oh! Susannah”, to close the album.

Turn! Turn! Turn! peaked in the Top 20 of album charts in both the US and UK.

The Byrds

  • Jim McGuinn – lead guitar, acoustic guitar, vocals
  • Gene Clark – rhythm guitar, harmonica, tambourine, vocals
  • David Crosby – rhythm guitar, vocals
  • Chris Hillman – electric bass (backing vocal on “Lay Down Your Weary Tune”)
  • Michael Clarke – drums (tambourine on “He Was a Friend of Mine”)

Additional personnel

  • Terry Melcher – organ on “He Was a Friend of Mine”

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The Byrds – 1965 – Founded in 1964 by Roger McGuinn and Gene Clark, the original Byrds also included Chris Hillman, Michael Clarke, and Crosby. The band, featuring McGuinn’s sublime, jangly, 12-string Rickenbacker and beautiful three-part harmonies was one of the most influential Rock bands of the era, and arguably with the Doors and Crosby, Stills and Nash, the three greatest American Rock groups of the 1960s. The original band recorded three albums: “Mr Tambourine Man,” (1965), Turn! Turn! Turn! (1966), and “Fifth Dimension,” (1966).

These albums contained some of Gene Clark’s finest compositions” “Set You Free This Time,” “Here Without You,” “She Don’t Care About Time,” and “Feel A Whole Lot Better.” He departed the band in 1966 followed by Crosby in 1967.

After an appearance with Stephen Stills at the Monterey Pop Festival, Crosby helped form the Rock super group Crosby, Stills & Nash in 1968. 

The early Byrds albums are best known for their cover versions – their take on Dylan’s ‘Mr Tambourine Man’ launched their career, while their second album was named for Pete Seeger’s biblical ‘Turn! Turn! Turn!’ While Roger McGuinn, David Crosby, and Chris Hillman would write strong material for The Byrds later, the one Byrd who was an accomplished writer from the beginning was Gene Clark.

Due to group infighting in the band, Clark was limited to only three songs on their second album,Turn! Turn! Turn!This meant that the excellent ‘She Don’t About Time’ was relegated to b-side status, backing the title track. It’s one of my favourite Clark songs for The Byrds. For me the song’s most startling feature is McGuinn’s lift of Bach’s ‘Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring’ for the guitar solo, and how seamlessly it fits in. The song inspired George Harrison to write The Beatles’ ‘If I Needed Someone’.

As a Byrds fan, it took me a while to get to Clark’s solo career, but it’s often excellent please check out the records like No Other and White Light both are very strong.

As a bonus feature, here’s another strong Byrds song that never made it onto a studio album. David Crosby’s non-album single ‘Lady Friend’ was released in 1967. It’s an interesting spin on The Byrds’ usual sound, with the harmonies and McGuinn guitar the group were known for, but also a brass arrangement. It failed on the charts, and was never included on a studio album.

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Graham Nash was on a helicopter with drummer Dallas Taylor flying into Bethel, N.Y., where their band was scheduled to perform at a festival. As they neared their destination, Taylor asked what lake they were flying over. It wasn’t water, the pilot replied. It was the audience.

The gig was Woodstock. The band was Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. The gathering on Max Yasgur’s farm would be only their second-ever live performance, after recently solidifying a touring lineup with Neil Young, Taylor and bassist Greg Reeves. The weekend would prove to be a high point for the counterculture that Woodstock quickly came to represent—and for Crosby, Stills, Nash & (sometimes) Young, the ensemble that was in some ways the house band for the Woodstock generation.

“Their music and their image became indissolubly linked with the fate of the baby-boomer era,” music historian Peter Doggett writes in CSNY, one of two engaging biographies released tracing the band’s fractious history. The other is Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young by David Browne, a senior writer for Rolling Stone magazine.

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Browne covers the full arc of the band’s career, from its members’ musical origins in other groups in the ‘60s to the present. Doggett focuses on the musicians’ early lives and careers through 1974, when David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash and Neil Young toured together for the last time. Though both books cover some of the same ground, Doggett’s is far more detailed about the beginnings of the band and the musicians’ upbringings. Browne takes on the monumental task of summarizing a half-century’s worth of conflict, self-sabotage and, when the musicians managed to get out of their own way, music.

Crosby, Stills & Nash wasn’t intended to be a “band” at all, at least not in the late-‘60s sense of the word, which implied a specific identity, expectations and business commitments. Those things amounted to limitations, in the minds of Crosby, Stills and Nash, who had each dealt with all that in the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield and the Hollies, respectively. They started singing together for the thrill of it, and they quickly realized that they harmonized with an uncommon purity that astonished their friends. That feeling of amazement carried over to the listening public when the trio released Crosby, Stills & Nash at the end of May 1969, thanks to songs including “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,” “Long Time Gone” and “Helplessly Hoping.”

The singers intended CSN to be a sort of “mothership” situation that would, between group efforts, permit solo projects, outside collaborations and plenty of musical experimentation. Yet converting their “party trick” harmonies (Browne and Doggett both use the term) into something that certainly looked like a band, with a record deal and all the attendant obligations, quickly subsumed the idea of singing together for its own sake. If bringing in Young to help flesh out the songs onstage made sense from a musical standpoint, each book illustrates how adding a fourth massive ego also hastened the band’s descent into creative disputes and power struggles.

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Though both authors admire the group and its songs, the musicians come off as intensely dislikable, especially as money and fame transform them. Stills is a taskmaster perfectionist with control issues. Crosby is a blowhard, a drug-addled hedonist with an attitude toward women that is startlingly chauvinistic, even for the era. Young, who had been part of Buffalo Springfield with Stills, is a cynical opportunist who sees joining CSN as a way to jumpstart his own then-lackluster career. Only Nash sometimes seems sympathetic; the most level-headed, he tries to act as a go-between among warring factions with limited success.

Together (and, just as often, separately), they cut a path through popular music in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. Doggett writes vividly about the L.A. scene that produced Crosby, Stills & Nash, chronicling their interactions with Cass Elliot of the Mamas and the Papas, Peter Tork of the Monkees, Joni Mitchell (who was romantically involved with Crosby, then Nash), Judy Collins (whose relationship with Stills inspired “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes”), Jimi Hendrix, Atlantic Records impresario Ahmet Ertegun, David Geffen and more. Doggett does his best to tame the mythology of CSN, sorting through various stories and inconsistent recollections about when and where they first sang together (Was it at Elliot’s house, or Mitchell’s? The night the Hollies played the Whisky in February 1968, or sometime afterward?) and when various songs were written and recorded.

Browne in many ways has the harder task, as the band’s earlier years were its most thrilling and creatively rewarding. Surprisingly little of the music they made together still resonates; after their first two studio LPs, CSN and 1970’s Déjà Vu with Young, and the 1971 live album 4 Way Street, the Crosby, Stills, Nash (and Young) catalog is a study in diminishing returns. In the latter half of Browne’s book, there’s almost a numb inevitability to the musicians’ fumbling attempts in the ‘80s to contemporize their sound, Crosby’s ever-deeper descent into drug addiction that led to a stint in prison, and Young’s inability to stop dangling the possibility of a full-scale reunion in front of his bandmates, only to flake out nearly every time for inscrutable reasons of his own.

Taken together, CSNY and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young present as full a picture of the group as is ever likely to emerge. It’s not a triumphant story. Beneath the promise of those early songs—and that initial camaraderie—lurks a mostly unwritten, certainly unanswerable question that poses itself again and again: What if?

Much like the dream of the Woodstock generation, the tale of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young is awash in senseless vanity, squandered chances and potential left tragically unfulfilled. Yet it’s often hard to look away—just like with any car wreck.