One of the world’s greatest voices was silenced forever on Jan. 18, 2023, upon the death of David Crosby after decades of poor choices and related health issues.
Crosby provided vital components to the soundtrack for life in the United States from the 1960s and ’70s. First with the Byrds and then Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, he helped to spread the word musically about the world around them. Many of those songs are still anthems regularly heard across airwaves and on the internet around the globe.
He was a regular member of what became known as the Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra, a loose group of any combination of members of the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane/Starship, Quicksilver Messenger Service as well as CSN&Y.
And yet, by the time of his passing, almost everyone who had ever worked with him in the past wanted nothing to do with him. The man with an angel’s voice was often a very ugly human.
To be fair, apparently, three of the four members of CSN&Y were lesser than could be hoped for as people. David Browne’s publication, “Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young: The Wild, Definitive Saga of Rock’s Greatest Supergroup,” gives an in-depth look at what can only be described as a monumental human failure. Be careful — once read, you’ll likely never look at the participants the same way ever again.
Even Crosby knew he was caustic. In 2019, he released the documentary “David Crosby: Remember My Name,” which is a candid self-assessment of how he got to where he was at that time. The title alluded to the fact that no one was returning his calls.
But at his passing, all of those folks on the other sides of bridges burnt by David who are still alive have had nothing but nice things to say about the music they created with him. Because one thing that everyone can agree on is that David Crosby possessed an amazing voice and used it more effectively than most. He could harmonize with anyone. And the man could sing so beautifully without words.
His first studio album, “If I Could Only Remember My Name,” (1971, Atlantic Records), which in essence is the second Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra release, is one of the most important vocal albums of all time that too few people seem to know about.
Those who ever cared about David Crosby but have not heard that album will have another to add to their essential listening list. In 2006, it was remastered and made available with 5.1 DVD audio. It is a simple album that showcases his other-worldly voice.
David Crosby, a complex individual, extraordinary talent … R.I.P.
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