This spring, David Crosby is doing something he hasn’t done in years as he resumes his solo acoustic tour.
“It’s much more personal and much more in-depth,” the member of Crosby, Stills & Nash said in a recent phone interview. “There’s no bass and drums, and I do the songs naked.”
The shows will allow Crosby – who will be clothed, by the way, while his songs will be stripped to guitar and vocal – to tell stories about the songs and how they fit into his colorful life. It will also offer something to Crosby that he values when it comes to his music.
“I wanted to challenge myself,” he said, explaining why he booked the solo acoustic tour, which started with a run of shows last summer.
“It’s so easy to kind of lay back on your laurels and do the easy thing. I mean, CSN makes more money. It’s relatively simple to do, the same with CSNY. This is much more challenging. It doesn’t make hardly any money at all, but it’s really fun. That’s a key thing for me. I really like challenging myself. At this point in my life, it’s a really good thing to do.”
Actually, it appears that CSN may no longer be an option for Crosby.
In a new interview with Billboard magazine, Graham Nash said he wants nothing to do with Crosby and that CSN will never play another show or make another album. He didn’t offer specifics to explain the rift with his longtime close friend.
If history is any indication, Crosby will manage just fine. In addition to writing honest and often powerful songs – first while in the ’60s band the Byrds, then with Crosby, Stills & Nash and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and at various points either solo or with Nash – Crosby, 73, has become one of rock’s true survivors.
While he enjoyed success with his first band, the Byrds, before reaching even greater popularity with Stephen Stills, Nash, and sometimes Neil Young, Crosby’s legendary addiction to drugs often strained his relationships with his musical partners to the breaking point.
It wasn’t until December 1985, when Crosby landed in a Texas state prison on drug and weapons charges, that his turnaround began. He was released the next year, and in 1987, Crosby married longtime girlfriend Jan Dance, who was also on the road to recovery from her severe cocaine addiction.
Still, Crosby faced serious health problems. He had diabetes and hepatitis C, and in 1994, his years of drug abuse and his illnesses caught up with him. He needed a liver transplant, and his prognosis for survival was poor. Crosby got a transplant and survived.
One of the most powerful songs on his latest studio album, the 2014 release, “Croz,” is “Put Your Baggage Down,” which is about the need to let go of the problems of the past and move forward in life.
“I think that’s crucial to getting on with your life,” Crosby said. “You have to look at (your past) very clearly and then you have to figure out how you got there. Then you have to set it down and walk away from it because once you’ve learned the lesson from it, it’s just baggage. It’s just something you carry around that gets in the way. If you spend your time looking over your shoulder, you’re going to run head-on into a wall. You need to be looking down the road. That’s pretty much totally where my focus is and has been for a long time now.”
Crosby, indeed, has been a productive musician and songwriter since his liver transplant – even though he has had to deal with a number of health issues since then, the latest of which was a cardiac catheterization and angiogram in February 2014.
Soon after the liver transplant he was reunited with a son, James Raymond, who had been put up for adoption in 1962 and grew into an adult before he learned Crosby was his father.
Already an accomplished musician, Raymond joined with Crosby and guitarist Jeff Pevar to form CPR, which released a pair of studio albums and two live releases between 1998 and 2001.
There was also a fine 2004 two-disc album with Nash titled “Crosby-Nash.”
Then there is the “Croz” solo album, an excellent effort that featured five Crosby-Raymond compositions and suggests that Crosby has regained his creative spark. Crosby already has several songs written for a next studio album, which again will feature songwriting collaborations with Raymond.
Having Raymond come into his life, Crosby said, has been a huge blessing. And he credits his wife with having helped him find his way out of his drug addiction and back to a productive life.
“I wouldn’t have made it without her, man,” he said. “Yeah, she’s the love of my life and we are now (together) 38 years. In this business, it’s a freaking miracle.”
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