Rock musician David Crosby on music, love, and drugs

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Cameron Crowe and David Cosby at KCRW. Photo by Christopher Ho/KCRW.

David Crosby wrote and/or sang many songs associated with the golden age of American rock music. He formed what he views as rock’s first supergroup: Crosby, Stills and Nash (later: Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young). 

At age 77, he's still performing and touring.

He's faced many hardships in his life: friends who died young, fractured relationships with band mates, drug addiction, a stint in a Texas state prison (where he spent a long time in solitary), and major health problems.

Crosby's story is the focus of a new documentary titled "David Crosby: Remember My Name."

Cameron Crowe is the film's producer. He first met Crosby in the early 1970s when he (Crowe) was a journalist on assignment for Crawdaddy magazine. The two have been friends since then. 

Crosby recalls his first impression of Crowe: "The thing about Cameron: when he showed up, he was the brightest kid any of us had ever met...And he was nice.”

What's wrong with modern music documentaries

Crosby wanted this new documentary about himself to be honest, saying most of the time, music documentaries are “shine jobs” that don’t reveal deeper truths about their subjects. He calls them self-serving, self-congratulatory, and shallow.

Crosby points out that Crowe takes the filmmaking in a different direction: “It ain’t about what you look like in high heels. It’s about what’s behind your eyes. And that’s where he goes. And he’s a really good filmmaker. And [director A.J. Eaton’s] a really good filmmaker. They are uncompromisingly committed to being good artists.”

Crowe describes modern music documentaries as advertisements aimed at putting artists in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. “Love me. Remember me. Get me in the Hall of Fame. Or to sell a tour or an album. And we’re not doing that. He’s [Crosby] already in the Hall of Fame. Twice," he says. 

The 'secret sauce' of the documentary

Crowe says Crosby's four-decade relationship with his wife Jan is the "secret sauce" of the film.  

“She’s very truthful, and she's very emotional, and she is not kidding, and she will tell you what she's actually thinking,” Crosby says.

At the end of the film, Crosby’s wife says she doesn’t know what she’ll do when Crosby passes away.

Crosby feels the same about his wife. "When you’re linked up for this long, yeah, that’s a precipice you don’t really want to walk near. I hope we go together because I don’t want to exist without her either," he says.

Improving his health, but still smoking weed

The documentary also focuses on Crosby's cocaine and heroin addiction, Hepatitis C, diabetes, and heart problems (he had eight stents implanted). 

Crosby has turned his health around. He says he's lost 60 pounds, and that's made a huge difference.

But true to his reputation, Crosby still enthusiastically uses marijuana. He vaporizes it. He says it’s conducive to music.

“I take a guitar off the wall, and then I smoke a joint,” Crosby says. “I start playing guitar in some weird tuning, and I get hung up. I get into the incredible sound the guitar’s making, and how joyous it is that my hands will do that, and, ‘Wow, look at what happened!' … I find stuff. And I have a blast.”

--Written and produced by Brian Hardzinski

Credits

Guests:
David Crosby - musician; member of "Crosby, Stills and Nash" and "Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young", Cameron Crowe - producer, "David Crosby: Remember My Name"

Host:
Madeleine Brand

Producers:
Sarah Sweeney, Michell Eloy, Alexandra Sif Tryggvadottir, Rosalie Atkinson, Brian Hardzinski