I still have fond memories of listening to David Crosby and the iconic Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young band.
In my early university days, I loved to lie on the floor, put on my headphones, and listen to the album Déjà Vu. The guitar rhythms and intricate melodies would soak into my brain as I drifted in and out of my afternoon nap.
The world of music will miss David Crosby. He passed away on January 18, 2023 at the age of 81. He lived a life full of contradictions, recoveries, collaborations and an unwavering devotion to music.
Crosby was lucky enough to get several second chances at life.
According to Rhys Buchanan, Crosby overcome just about every obstacle in his path from hard drug addiction to serious health scares, including a liver transplant, diabetes and three heart attacks.
An arrest and subsequent imprisonment seem to provide another surprising second chance for him. In 1983, Crosby was convicted of felony possession of cocaine. A .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun was found in his bag. This added to the criminal charges against him. Crosby said he had armed himself after the 1980 shooting death of John Lennon.
“Dallas pretty much saved my life,” said Crosby. Getting busted was a hard way to get out of his drug addiction, but it worked. The criminal conviction turned out to be a bit of good fortune for him.
And he was grateful. In fact, he wrote a thank-you note to District Judge Pat McDowell. In his thank-you note Crosby said, “I wanted you to know that, this time, it worked. I’m getting married. I’m working. I’m testing straight. I’m having a very good time in life. And I thank you.”
Much has been written about Crosby the curmudgeon. He was well known for being argumentative and even combative. He expressed his opinions freely about politics, music or really about anything he wanted to say.
But sometimes, playing the curmudgeon was just for fun.
During the pandemic, Crosby had taken to social media to critique his fans’ attempts at rolling a joint. On Twitter, Crosby said, “It’s a calling … I was born to do it.”
“It’s a kick in the head, man. I like doing it. It’s sort of a curmudgeon stream, being opinionated about everything – it’s really fun.”
“I think making music is crucial and it’s keeping me alive. There are two centres to my life: my family and the music. That I can still at this advanced age get a chance to make more music is just a freaking miracle,” said Crosby.
His recent studio album, For Free, offers some of Crosby’s best music to-date. He liked working collaboratively as he created and performed his music. He has worked with some very famous musicians over the years, such as George Harrison and Joni Mitchell.
On this newest album, Crosby was working with his son, James Raymond, along with members of Steely Dan. Crosby called NME and described this new collaboration.
“It’s a very odd relationship on the record – and in life – because James is the adult and I’m the kid. I’m about 12 years old and he’s an adult. We have a lot of fun and we have a wonderful relationship.
In his later years, Crosby continued to be young at heart, active and passionate about music. The last five of his albums came in the last decade of his life.
In a 2021 interview, Crosby seemed positive and healthy, and still enjoyed an impressive creative drive. His new record demonstrated a seize-the-day mentality. He was not content to rest on the laurels of a rich musical legacy – from The Byrds and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and his prolific solo career. Instead, his eyes were fixed on the road ahead.
With his contradictions, collaborations and second chances, he truly led an impressive life. To me, he was a GSD kind of guy, getting things done right until the end.
What are your memories of David Crosby? Do they involve admiration or mixed feelings? Can we learn anything from his seize-the-day mentality?