All Mixed Up

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David Crosby (August 14, 1941 – January 18, 2023) was a four-time guest on All Mixed Up with me over the years.

Having met David on a number of occasions in the past, I knew he could be a challenge to talk to, but I also knew that if I did my homework, and stayed away from the obvious stuff (“Will you guys ever get back together again?”) that he could be open, warm, and (dare I say it) even friendly.

A two-time inductee into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame – once as a member of the Byrds, and again as a part of Crosby, Stills, & Nash – Crosby was opinionated, open about his life, and made it abundantly clear that more than anything, music was perhaps the most important element in his life.

Eulogies have been pouring in on social media from all over the musical spectrum including two from friends of mine in the musical community.

Nashville-based singer/songwriter Bill Lloyd wrote on his Facebook page, “I think the floodgates are about to open when it comes to losing the generation of influential musicians that matter so much to so many of us. Only days after Jeff Beck, David Crosby passes over. It’s hard to measure how much his music meant to me. Both the debut CSN and Déjà Vu albums were as important as Beatles albums when they hit the scene and I’m not sure subsequent generations understand just how big they were. I know he was a bit of a prickly character who burned a lot of bridges, wasted years of his life in a drug stupor and alienated his band mates. Regardless, he’s been a part of making the music I grew up on.”

Shortly after Crosby’s passing, my Fordham contemporary Mike Fornatale wrote on his FB page, “I don’t have too many musical heroes that run deeper than David Crosby. I don’t have any words right now. So here are some words from a few years back. I was assigned to interview him on the occasion of his Summer 2014 comeback album, Croz. I was concerned. There was always a chance, with David, that you could find him combative, uncommunicative, and rude. OR, on July 27, 2014, you might have the best interview of your whole life. I guess I must have asked the right questions.”

Among those questions Mike asked was about the connection between songwriting and feeling pain. Crosby explained, “The pain isn’t when you do your best work. I think some people like to have their lives in disarray. They like to be able to be bad boys, and do hard drugs, and justify it by saying ‘it’s how I get my art, maaan.’ And it’s bullshit. Drugs do not help. Turmoil does not help. Being a shit to other people does not help. Living a shallow and meaningless life doesn’t help. It’s a load of crap. (Following ‘Delta’) I didn’t write another song for two years, until I got sober, in prison. And then it finally started to come back. And I wrote a few lines that were okay, and I finished a song that wasn’t very good, and another one that was a little better, and finally, all of a sudden I wrote ‘Compass.’ And I said, ‘Yes. It’s not gone. I can still do it.’ The song has to come first. If you don’t have the song, then I don’t care how much production you do, you’re just polishing a turd. And if you don’t have the song, you can’t take people on that little voyage that you’re trying to take them on. That’s your job. The singer has to serve the song. Our job is not to set off pyrotechincs and wave a scarf around. Our job is to bring you a song that will take you on a voyage. And if we can’t do that, we are cheese.”

David Crosby was a HUGE part of my musical development. I can still vividly remember hearing the debut CSN album for the first time and being completely stunned by the sum of the parts. I knew how good Stills was. I knew the integral part that Crosby had played in the Byrds. Nash’s songs were among my favorite Hollies tunes. What I wasn’t ready for was what happened when the three of them put it all together for the first time.

Whether it was as a member of a group, or as a solo artist, David Crosby was a major participant in providing the soundtrack of our lives.

  • DAVID CROSBY INTERVIEWS OVER THE YEARS ON WDHA

  • August 2012

    In 2012 the on-again/off-again saga of Crosby, Stills and Nash resulted in a CD/DVD/Blu-ray release, their first live recording in two decades.

    Fans who saw them on that tour, which included multiple nights at the Beacon Theatre in New York City, raved about how great the band sounded.

    In this 2012 interview on “All Mixed Up,” David Crosby talked about the tour, how Stephen Stills had returned to form, and how the band was often playing close to three hours on the tour.

  • September 2017

    By 2017, the members of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young were in various stages of not speaking with each other. David had insulted Neil Young’s then-girlfriend (Daryl Hannah, who Young is now married to) which resulted in Young declaring that there would never be a CSNY reunion.

    Meanwhile, Nash and Crosby also had a falling out which came to a head onstage in 2015 with Nash cursing out Crosby in between songs. The trio’s last performance would be that of “Silent Night” at the White House Christmas tree lighting in December 2015.

    Crosby took a backlog of his songs and released a number of solo albums including Sky Trails in the fall of 2017. Inspired in part by Crosby’s love of the music of Steely Dan, Sky Trails is arguably the best solo album of Crosby’s career.

  • May 2018

    David Crosby could be a tough person to interview. He had absolutely ZERO problem letting an interviewer know that he or she had asked a dumb question. His reputation was such that he kind of sheepishly asked “Was I nice?” when I reminded him of previous appearances on WDHA.

    Crosby was still touring behind Sky Trails at the time of this interview.  Among the topics we discussed were David’s activity on Twitter, as well as the topic of how little artists get paid via streaming.

  • October 2018

    David’s final appearance on WDHA came in the fall of 2018 right around the time he released Here If You Listen, his fourth solo album in less than five years. When you consider that eighteen years passed between his first two solo recordings, that is an incredible turnaround, enhanced further by the incredible quality of the music.

    David spoke of various artists who had an impact on his musical career, the concept of competing with yourself when writing new songs, and the idea of his mortality and how he’s coming to terms with it.

  • Five of David Crosby's Best Songs/Musical Performances

  • CSNY With Tom Jones - "Long Time Gone"

    “Long Time Gone” appeared on the eponymous Crosby, Stills & Nash album in 1969 and according to David Crosby “…was written the night Bobby Kennedy was killed. I believed in him because he said he wanted to make some positive changes in America, and he hadn’t been bought and sold like Johnson and Nixon – cats who made their deals years ago with the special interests in this country in order to gain power. I thought Bobby, like his brother, was a leader who had not made those deals. I was already angry about Jack Kennedy getting killed and it boiled over into this song when they got his brother, too.”

    Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young performed the song in the summer of 1969 at Woodstock, and also live on television with Tom Jones.

  • Everybody's Been Burned

    “Everybody’s Been Burned” appeared on the ByrdsYounger Than Yesterday album and actually predates Crosby joining the band. With its jazz-flavored chords and bossa nova-type beat, it was far different from a lot of what was getting played on Top 40 radio at the time.

  • Guinnevere

    This is from an in-studio radio interview David Crosby did in the early-to-mid 80’s. By that point, he was addicted to both cocaine and heroin, and he was in a downward spiral that ultimately led to him being wanted by the FBI.

    As disconnected and unfocused as he was from the effects of years of drug abuse, with a guitar in his hands he was a completely different person. In one particular radio interview that I helped produce, I watched in amazement as Crosby’s musical transformation unfolded before my eyes.

    Taken from a live radio interview, this haunting version of one of his best-known songs is breathtaking.

    “Guinnevere” live radio performance

  • Déjà Vu

    Taken from the 2012 live release David Crosby was promoting in his August interview that year, the vocals and musicianship are simply breathtaking.

    Of special note (and David referenced it in the interview above) is how incredible Stephen Stills’ performance – vocal and guitar – is.

    The entire concert that was taken from can be seen here.

  • You Don't Have To Cry

    OK…yeah, I know that Stills wrote it. And yeah, it’s Stills on all the instruments. And yes, I know that it was Nash’s harmony that made the three of them stop in their tracks knowing that THIS would be what they would be doing for the foreseeable future.

    But since this was the first song that David Crosby, Stephen Stills, and Graham Nash ever sang together, it makes for a nice finishing touch.

  • Bonus Track - Your Own Ride

    This is the song David and I spoke of in our final interview.

    Written for his son Django, this was David’s way of addressing his own impending mortality while writing a love song to his son.