So long, David Crosby

A few words on the passing of David Crosby

A few words on the sad passing of David Crosby yesterday; one of my very favourite artists since I was a teenager.

Everyone will today quite rightly reach for - or better still, discover - “If I Only I Could Remember My Name” today. It’s no exaggeration to call it a masterpiece.

I got into this stuff via my Dad, and his love of CSN. “Crosby, Stills and Nash” and “Deja Vu” were my introduction, and remain amongst my favourites. I got my love of harmony mainly from listening to these two LPs over and over. There’s also bunch of brilliant stuff on an early 90s box set. One of the highlights is an 8-min version of Crosby’s ‘Almost Cut My Hair’ -

And there are loads (and I mean LOADS) of records from the 70s of various solo, duo, trio configurations of CSN&Y, and Crosby turns up on a lot of them (and on others people’s records,’ll find him on BVs on Joni Mitchell records, amongst many others)

I saw CSN first in the early 90s, at Hammersmith Odeon and at The Albert Hall, and then a couple of times again over the years. Crosby & Nash singing together was always special. I don’t have the technical language to explain it, but they sounded like 4 or 5 people. Crosby and Nash’s voices together produced these weird harmonic pings in the rafters, where 3rd, 4th & 5th harmonies came briefly into earshot. They were born to sing together. At all those shows, they’d each do a brief solo turn. Crosby’s were always the most entertaining. He had the charm, warmth and humour the other two appeared to lack.

That came across on Twitter in recent years too. Crosby was one of the best pop stars to use Social Media. He also used that platform to make it very clear what he thought of Mike Love. Disliking Mike Love is the one of the hallmarks of a good egg.

So, yeah…we’ve lost a good one in David Crosby. And I haven’t even talked about his time in the rock star finishing school that was The Byrds.

But back to the top, and to If Only I Could Remember My Name….that record for me has come to encapsulate the idea of late60s/early/mid70s Laurel Canyon. It’s the distillation of all those records and that scene into one LP. Go and buy it today, you won’t regret it.

A few years back, me, Paul McGee and others made a playlist that used that record as one of it’s jump off points. Go there next if the you get on board with Crosby’s vibe (man). He seemed to me to be the spirit of that whole scene. Here’s the playlist:

Go well David Crosby, and thanks for all the music.

Dr Craig Hamilton
Dr Craig Hamilton

My research interests include popular music, digital humanities and online cultures.