David Crosby


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If I Could Only Remember My Name , 8/10
Croz (2014), 6.5
Lighthouse (2016), 6/10
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David Crosby, the former Byrds singer who can claim to be inventor of acid-rock, raga-rock and space-rock, released only one solo album before falling victim to his drugs addiction, but that album, If I Could Only Remember My Name (1971), that absorbed his experience with the Jefferson Airplane and with Crosby Stills Nash & Young, remains one of the most touching documents of the post-hippy era. Several historical figures of San Francisco's acid-rock scene attended the sessions, including most of the Jefferson Airplane and of the Grateful Dead. The melancholy, dreamy, ecstatic psalms of this album are embedded into loose, shimmering, impressionist structures. Crosby travels to another universe, whispers, wails, babbles, agonizes, radiates "om"s, chats with mirages and ghosts, sinks into a mystic-psychedelic trance.
(Translated from my original Italian text by Donnie)

David Crosby was, in many ways, the inventor of acid-rock, raga-rock and space-rock, when, inspired by San Francisco's hippie movement, he convinced the Byrds to abandon the exuberant folk-rock of their early days. David Crosby, less and less in line with Roger McGuinn's ideology was dismissed from the band in 1968. He took refuge with the Jefferson Airplane for some time, and gifted them two gems such as the intimate Triad and the visionary Wooden Ships. From 1969 to 1971 he traveled with the supergroup created by Steve Stills, the Crosby Stills & Nash, contributing to that project with some folk-psychedelic delights (Almost Cut My Hair, Dejavu`, Shadow Captain).

Crosby then recorded his first solo album, which stands as one of the three records with which the great California season of utopia ends, a record in which the whole Bay Area musical community spiritually and materially participates. If Blows Against The Empire envisioned the dream of leaving Earth to go and found a new civilization on another planet, if Sunfighter marked the rediscovery of Mother Earth and therefore a resigned naturalistic idyll, Crosby's record, If I Could Only Remember My Name (Atlantic, 1971), represents the moment of maximum meditation, of retreat from the public to the private, from the common to the individual. It features Kaukonen, Slick, Casady, Kantner of the Jefferson Airplane, as well as Garcia, Leish, Kreutzmann, Hart of the Grateful Dead, as well as songwriters Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Graham Nash and others.

The influence of so many creative brains is tangible, but more than anything else in forging the "neutral" sound of the disc, a sound that, like that of the other masterpieces of the Bay Area, cannot be assimilated to any genre. Crosby's personality, instead, establishes the mood and ultimately the very meaning of the record.

The album is sad and dreamy, full of the new philosophy of resignation; it is a long existential whisper. Crosby indulges in a mystical-psychedelic trance, raves with dilated vowels, converses with mirages and ghosts. The crystalline style of early Byrds collides with the disorganized sound of the lysergic period of Younger Than Yesterday, a magic fairy tale style is permeated with Indian spiritualism. The shimmering caress and the long hissing echoes of the leading guitar, melted on the fine sand of the other guitars, sculpt and color an atmosphere of mystery and religiosity. The voices intone heroic psalms, like a Greek chorus that supports Crosby's intense, hallucinated, "stoned" monologue, made up of long whispered vowels.

The album opens with the slow progression of Music's Love, a mantra made of a single verse ("Everyone says that music is love") repeated endlessly by Crosby and the choir, hummed in a trance. Even more tenuous are Laughing, a single long note, suspended between Earth and paradise, an echo that vibrates and returns, and gradually fades into the silence of eternity, Traction In The Rain, a revision of the whispered Triad theme on the tinkling strings of the guitar and on the crystalline waterfalls of the harp, and above all Song With No Words, drenched in an extraordinary lyrical intensity, a subdued and poignant prayer in which the singing hovers in sublime flights, a` la Slick, unable to articulate words. In closing, the hallucinating I'd Swear There Was Somebody Here, a funeral lament, a game of mirror images, a hallucinogenic trip, a cry of joy and despair, rends the measure of the ambiguous equilibrium of dreamlike and mystical states. An almost baroque tone and harmonic architecture, a stubborn rhetoric of ecstasy, a fragile vocal aestheticism and a strong pictorial impressionism make this album more than unique.

Crosby never repeated himself at those levels, dedicating his old age to mediocre records with Graham Nash and to a mediocre supporting role for Stephen Stills in the supergroup Crosby Stills & Nash; which attests to the merits of the album's guests, but also attests to a kind of confessional style that can work only once in a lifetime. That ghostly ending that made his fans hope for who knows what musical revolutions marked instead only the drying of a spring, the end of an era, and the demise of a myth.

David Crosby fu, per molti versi, l'inventore dell'acid-rock, del raga-rock e dello space-rock, quando, spronato dal movimento hippie di San Francisco, spinse i Byrds ad abbandonare l'esuberante folk-rock degli esordi. David Crosby, sempre meno in linea con l'ideologia di Roger McGuinn, venne allontanato dal complesso nel 1968. Rifugiatosi per qualche tempo presso i Jefferson Airplane, regalo` loro due gemme come l'intimista Triad e la visionaria Wooden Ships. Dal 1969 al 1971 viaggio` con il supergruppo ideato da Steve Stills, i Crosby Stills & Nash, contribuendo all'impresa con altre delizie folk-psichedeliche (Almost Cut My Hair, Dejavu`, Shadow Captain).

Crosby incise poi il primo disco solista, che si pone come uno dei tre dischi con cui si chiude la grande stagione californiana dell'utopia, un disco a cui partecipa spiritualmente e materialmente tutta la comunita' musicale della Bay Area. Se Blows Against The Empire svolge il sogno di lasciare la Terra per andare a fondare una nuova civilta` su un altro pianeta, se Sunfighter segna la riscoperta della Madre Terra e quindi un rassegnato idillio naturalista, il disco di Crosby, If I Could Only Remember My Name (Atlantic, feb 1971), al quale partecipano Kaukonen, Slick, Casady, Kantner dei Jefferson Airplane; Garcia, Leish, Kreutzmann, Hart dei Grateful Dead; Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Graham Nash e molti altri, rappresenta il momento di massimo raccoglimento, di riflusso dal pubblico al privato, dalla comune all'individuo.
L'influenza di tanti cervelli creativi e` tangibile, ma piu` che altro nel forgiare il sound "neutro" del disco, un sound che, come quello degli altri capolavori della baia, non e` assimilabile a nessun genere. La personalita' di Crosby fissa invece l'umore e in definitiva il senso stesso del disco.
L'album e` triste e sognante, pregno della nuova filosofia della rassegnazione; e` un lungo bisbiglio esistenziale. Crosby si dondola in una trance mistico-psichedelica, farnetica sottovoce a vocali dilatate, colloquia con miraggi e fantasmi. Lo stile cristallino dei primi Byrds si infrange nel sound disorganico del periodo lisergico di Younger Than Yesterday, il favolismo magico si abbarbica allo spiritualismo indiano. La carezza luccicante e i lunghi echi sibilanti della chitarra-guida, sciolti sulla sabbia fine delle altre chitarre, miniano, acquerellano, colorano l'atmosfera di mistero e di religiosita` . Le voci innalzano salmi eroici, come un coro greco che ribadisca il monologo assorto, allucinato, stordito, di Crosby, fatto di lunghe vocali trattenute sottovoce.
L'album si apre con la lenta progressione di Music's Love, un mantra fatto di un unico verso ("tutti dicono che la musica e` amore") ripetuto all'infinito da Crosby e dal coro come in trance. Ancor piu` tenui sono Laughing, un'unica lunga nota sospesa fra terra e paradiso, un'eco che vibra e ritorna, e poco a poco svanisce nel silenzio dell'eternita`, Traction In The Rain, una revisione del tema di Triad bisbigliata sulle corde tintinnanti della chitarra e sulle cascate cristalline dell'arpa, e soprattutto Song With No Words, immersa in un'intensita` lirica straordinaria, una preghiera sommessa e struggente nella quale il canto si libra in voli sublimi, alla Slick, incapace di articolar parola. In chiusura l'allucinante I'd Swear There Was Somebody Here, lamento funebre, gioco di riflessi, trip allucinogeno, grido di gioia e di disperazione, da` la misura dell'ambiguo equilibrismo di stati onirici e stati mistici.
Un'architettura timbrica e armonica quasi barocca, una testarda retorica dell'estasi, un tenue l'estetismo vocale e un forte impressionismo pittorico fanno di questo disco un'opera unica.

Crosby non si e` piu` ripetuto a quei livelli, dedicando la vecchiaia a dischi mediocri con Graham Nash e a un mediocre gregariato per Stephen Stills nel celebre supergruppo Crosby Stills & Nash. Conferma dei meriti degli ospiti, ma anche conferma di un tipo di confessione che viene bene una volta sola nella vita.
Quel finale di fantasmi che faceva sperare in chissa` quali rivoluzioni musicali segnava invece soltanto l'esaurirsi di una sorgente, la fine di un' epoca, e la morte di un mito.

David Crosby's career was always marked by LSD. In 1966 he changed the history of rock music because of LSD. In 1971 he gave rock music a masterpiece thanks to LSD. During the 1970s he destroyed his life and his career because of LSD. And much later he will resurrect as a different man and artist, thanks to rehabilitation from drugs.

While they were still playing in CS&N, Crosby and Nash released a collaboration, Graham Nash and David Crosby (Atlantic, apr 1972), that features Southbound Train (Nash), Immigration Man (Nash), The Wall Song (Crosby). It was a lighter, softer, gentler version of CS&N's ethereal sound.

Wind On The Water (ABC, 1975) was, overall, even better, thanks to a consistent "journey" from Carry Me (Crosby) and Bittersweet (Crosby) through Take the Money And Run (Nash) and Love Workout (Nash) all the way to the magical To the Last Whale (Crosby).

Orchestral arrangements did not help Whistling Down the Wire (ABC, jun 1976) escape the sense that Crosby and Nash were selling out (Out of the Darkness, Spotlight).

Crosby was clearly losing control of his mind. His second solo album, Might as Well Have a Good Time (1980), was never released. A series of arrests on drug-related charges and illegal-weapons charges landed him a prison sentence. He spent the first half of 1986 in jail, and finally got rid of the habit. His career resumed with a new Crosby Still Nash & Young album and, finally, his second solo album, Oh Yes I Can (A&M, 1989), a decent effort that contains Tracks In The Dust and Lady Of The Harbor. Crosby's third solo album, Thousand Roads (Atlantic, 1993), is mainly a collection of covers. Seriously sick, Crosby united with his son James Raymond and guitarist Jeff Pevar to form CPR.

In 2004, Crosby was again arrested for possession of drugs (as well as for an illegal gun).

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Gianluca Mantovan)

La carriera di David Crosby fu sempre contrassegnata dall'LSD. Nel 1966 cambiò la storia del rock a causa dell'LSD. Nel 1971 diede al rock un capolavoro grazie all'LSD. Negli anni '70 l'LSD fece a pezzi la sua vita e la sua carriera. E ben più tardi ebbe la possibilità di risorgere come uomo e come artista dopo aver vinto la droga. Ancora membri di CS&N, Crosby e Nash collaborarono per Graham Nash e David Crosby (Atlantic, apr 1972), contenente Southbound Train (Nash), Immigration Man (Nash), The Wall Song (Crosby). Era una versione più leggera e soft del suono etereo di CS&N.

Wind On The Water (ABC, 1975) era, nel complesso, perfino migliore, grazie al considerevole "viaggio" da Carry Me (Crosby) e Bittersweet (Crosby) attraverso Take the Money And Run (Nash) e Love Workout (Nash) fino alla magica To the Last Whale (Crosby).

Gli arrangiamenti orchestrali non bastarono a Whistling Down the Wire (ABC, jun 1976) per dissipare l'impressione che Crosby e Nash fossero ormai all'epilogo (Out of the Darkness, Spotlight).

Crosby stava evidentemente perdendo il controllo. Il suo secondo album solista, Might as Well Have a Good Time (1980), non fu mai pubblicato. Una serie di arresti legati a droga e detenzione illegale di armi gli aprirono le porte del carcere, nella prima metà del 1986, dove abbandonò il vizio. La sua carriera riprese dapprima con un nuovo album Crosby Still Nash & Young e, in seguito, il suo secondo album solista, il dignitoso Oh Yes I Can (A&M, 1989), contenente Tracks In The Dust e Lady Of The Harbor. Il terzo,

Thousand Roads (Atlantic, 1993), è perlopiù una collezione di cover. Gravemente malato, Crosby fece lega con il figlio James Raymond e il chitarrista Jeff Pevar negli CPR.

Nel 2004, Crosby fu di nuovo arrestato per possesso illegale di droga (oltre che di un fucile).

Croz (2014), his first solo album in 20 years, was followed by Lighthouse (2016).

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