Croz was just in New York City, full of joy, bigger than life. The 77-year old David Crosby played a spectacular set of music mixing in CSN&Y, solo, and new material at Lincoln Center's Guggenheim Bandshell at Damrosch Park on Sunday night, August 11th, with his new band Sky Trails -- lead guitarist Jeff Pevar (Steely Dan, Phil Lesh, Marc Cohn, et al.), drummer David DiStanislao (David Gilmour, Don Felder), Mai Leisz (Greg Leisz' wife ), keyboardist/vocalist Michelle Willis, and musical director/keyboardist/son James Raymond. Historic in the fact that it was 50 years prior that he and CSNY debuted at Woodstock. As I sat there I couldn't believe how amazing his voice sounded, how tight the vocal harmonies were, how hard he and his band rocked "Ohio" (encore) and "Wooden Ships." His passion for sharing his music is infectious and defies his tumultuous personal life -- addictions, love lost, prison, broken friendships. Even his failing health can't keep him down.
Wandering around the VIP section at the outdoor venue was writer/producer/filmmaker Cameron Crowe, producer of David's new heart-wrenching documentary Remember My Name (Sony Pictures Classic). I mentioned to him that we share a friend in common and I was planning on seeing his documentary soon.
Well, I saw it on Thursday afternoon, day one of the 50th anniversary of Woodstock. It is not a perfect documentary, but then no documentary on David Crosby could be. Our heroes are not perfect. None of us are perfect. Yes, he's left in his wake too many broken relationships; his own insecurities fueling his drug addictions and self-sabotage. There are no interviews with any of six children or current interviews with Neil Young, Graham Nash, or Stephen Stills. He torched those bridges with his musical comrades and has yet to rebuild them. And yet he's very contrite and honest in sharing his reckless regard of those very precious friendships. The doc most certainly functions as a massive mea culpa to anyone he has wronged, both living and dead.
Regardless of his own personal demons, one can't deny his influence on seminal rock acts The Byrds and Crosby, Stills & Nash/Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young/Crosby & Nash. His first solo album If Only I Could Remember My Name (1971), written in the wake of the tragic loss of his true love Christine Hinton, remains a timeless and difficult-to-categorize classic. Graham Nash has gone on record stating that the loss of Christine was massive: "I watched a part of David die that day." And so did a piece of David's heart and his ability to process fame and stardom.
Born and raised in Hollywood, his father Floyd was an Academy Award winning American cinematographer for the movie Tabu: A Story of the South Seas and shot the movie High Noon, et al. He claims in the doc that his father never told him or his brother that he loved them. Perhaps that fueled his "anger" and his anti-authoritarian and impetuous behavior throughout most of his career. And yet as David's life winds down and he deals with his health -- liver transplant, heart attacks and stents, diabetes -- his need for music and playing it live remain front and center, even if it means he might not make it back home to his wife Jan and his dogs.
When pressed by Cameron Crowe in the documentary:
"If I were to say, no music but you get extreme joy in your home life... do you make that trade?"
Without hesitation, David replies:
"No music? No, not interested. It's the only thing I've got to offer, really."
In the spirit of Woodstock, I would implore you to witness David's tour and watch Cameron's must-see documentary. I found myself singing along with so many of the classic tunes and even misting up when David bared his soul. If one must suffer for one's art, then David's life has been fueled by undeniable chaos even while delivering so many memorable and heartfelt musical moments.