Posts Tagged ‘If I Could Only Remember My Name’

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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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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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