David Crosby R.I.P.

Dead at 81.


Glorious high tenor; in the rock world right up there with Roy Orbison.  Creator of beautiful harmonies for the Byrds and for CSN as well as his own work.  If I Could Only Remember My Name was Crosby's masterpiece and a masterpiece of the era.  He was free to put his hand to the harmonies he heard in his head.  And look at the list of musicians and singers who worked on the album with him.

Very pleased to hear it reported he made it up with Nash before the end.

All in all, Crosby did well to outlive some of his substance abuse competitors by more than 50 years.

Peace David.

About a year ago I discovered his recent albums Croz, Lighthouse, Sky Trails, Here If You Listen, and For Free. They, and his two studio albums with CPR, have been getting heavy play ever since. What a great talent.

As a harmony singer and composer I think he held his own with his bandmates, and IICORMN has remained one of my favorite albums since its release (and it has long been included in TAS's recommended LPs, for good reason--Croz noted that the engineer Stephen Barncard was the best at recording acoustic guitars).  Qobuz's HR version of the album is indistinguishable from my original vinyl on my system, which has an excellent turntable/tonearm and preamp.  The 50th anniversary version has some interesting alternate takes, outtakes and demos.

Croz showed his jazz influences more than Stills, Nash or Young, and the unusual chords he used in some of his songs reflect that.  Like Joni Mitchell (and probably due to her influence) he often used alternative guitar tunings as the basis for his own songs, and those tunings facilitated unusual chord choices.  He sparingly produced one or two of her earliest albums.

I saw him live several times with CSN, CPR and Nash, and he was entertaining, although he seemed more introverted/low-key after he cleaned up.  CPR and the band with Nash were great bands--he knew good musicians when he heard them.  Some of the bands and performances during the freebasing stage of his solo career were less appealing to me.

I recommend Croz's autobiography Long Time Gone for an intimate glimpse into his life and the colorful times in which he lived.  He even includes a psychiatric evaluation of himself from around the time he was ending his addictive lifestyle.  Now that's being open!

His Voyage anthology is excellent and in HDCD format, for those of you who have players which support that format.  I think it does sound a bit better than Redbook, having compared the two on the same tracks, but not as good as higher-res formats.

My favorite CSN/CSNY tunes have always been Crosby's. His distinctive melodic sensibility and fondness for open tunings on big 'ol Martin dreads has a lot to do with it. IICORMN is one of my favorite albums of its genre. 

As to his personal fallibilities, well, we've had discussions here on this topic often enough to suggest that great talent and less than great character are not exactly a rare juxtoposition. But this is not only evident in the arts; it's a paradoxical aspect of being human. I'm not defending anyone's bad behavior or suggesting how anyone else should judge such individuals. I will say that I believe it's unrealistic to assume that anyone who is highly accomplished in a particular field will necessarily be virtuous as well.