KamerTunesBlog

Revisiting my extensive music collection, one artist at a time

Satur-debut – DAVID CROSBY “IF I COULD ONLY REMEMBER MY NAME…”

David Crosby’s name has appeared at KamerTunesBlog numerous times. Although his work with The Byrds hasn’t come up, his collaborations with Stephen Stills, Graham Nash and Neil Young have been featured in multiple posts over the years, and the pair of wonderful studio albums he released as part of the Steely Dan-esque CPR were included in my Two And Through post back in 2014. However, his only solo work to get a mention here is his exquisite 1971 debut, If I Could Only Remember My Name, which was listed among my 50 favorite debut albums in the Great Out Of The Gate series. Now I get to shine a light on this record once again.

For more information on this series, please read the opening paragraph of the first post, which featured the debut album from Led Zeppelin.

 

 

From GREAT OUT OF THE GATE Part 5:

 

I didn’t always appreciate David Crosby’s contributions to The Byrds and Crosby, Stills & Nash (& Young), but once I began paying attention it was clear that he was the most musically adventurous member in both of those groups. He has followed his own rules without ever sounding like he was aiming for a hit. Instead, his songs tend to travel in strange, unexpected directions while staying grounded & approachable, and his voice is a thing of beauty whether he’s belting out a rocker, vocalizing a wordless tune or harmonizing with one of his bandmates. For his debut solo album, he used a constantly evolving group of musicians & singers from bands like The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Santana and even CSNY to help him unspool a collection of intense, hypnotic & often ethereal tunes. Although not officially a song-cycle, it’s an album that should be listened to as one continuous piece of music, as songs seems to flow into one another. In fact, that’s the only way I’ve ever played it, and I often can’t identify specific tracks without looking at the packaging. At the time, Crosby was basking in the glow of his incredible success with CSN & CSNY but grieving the loss of his girlfriend in a car accident, and you can hear elements of celebration, grief & healing throughout the record, often within the same song. Although I will always recommend hearing If I Could Only Remember My Name… in its entirety, “Cowboy Movie,” “Tamalpais High (At About 3)” and “Song With No Words (Tree With No Leaves)” are standout tracks, any of which would be the perfect introduction to this stunning record.

 

Crosby’s solo discography is relatively sparse, with only seven albums over nearly half a century, but he’s been on quite a roll recently with four great albums since 2014. I also think he’s the most under-valued & under-appreciated member of CSNY. I’m wondering if other fans agree that his solo debut is as good as anything his colleagues have released.

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10 comments on “Satur-debut – DAVID CROSBY “IF I COULD ONLY REMEMBER MY NAME…”

  1. Aphoristical
    May 11, 2019

    I think the first two CSN albums overshadow the solo stuff I’ve heard. But I like this one and Stills’ debut and Manassas a lot.

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    • I completely agree that the first two CSN(Y) albums are unbeatable, but when it comes to their solo albums I think this one is every bit as good as the best work from Stills, Nash & Young. Good call on Manassas, which is probably my favorite work Stills has done outside of the group.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Bill P
    May 12, 2019

    I’m going to side with Aphoristical here. The CSN album you profiled a few months back is far superior to the tracks I’m hearing here. They do have similar DNA though. You could probably shuffle this with CSN(Y) tracks and it wouldn’t jar. In fact, these 3 songs together all have enough of a similar vibe that I can really feel how you would enjoy just playing this start to finish (or even better, having to flip at the end of Side A with a little bit of dust crackle on the needle). I do miss the harmonies of the others though. The sum is better than the parts, IMHO.

    I can’t answer on whether David Crosby is more under-valued or under-appreciated but I know there is now some SERIOUS bad blood between him and Graham Nash. I’m sure there is a legacy of substance abuse and letdowns that are a part of that but I would give CSN far less of a chance getting back together than anyone would have with the Eagles before the Hell Freezes Over tour.

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    • Hi Bill. I certainly agree that the CSN debut as well as their follow-up with Young are the best things they’ve done. As for their solo work, they’ve each got such different musical personalities, but there’s something special about Crosby’s debut. I love much of the solo work from Stills, Nash and Young (I even wrote a 10-part series on Young’s discography back in 2013) and it’s hard to pick a favorite, yet this one has really made an impact on me. If you ever get a chance to hear the surround sound mix I highly recommend it.

      It’s too bad about the animosity between Nash & Crosby (and possibly Young & Crosby) these days. It’s not like I’m clamoring for a CSN(Y) reunion…they’ve had plenty of those over the decades…but when you’ve had such a tight connection for so long and you’ve reached an age that your lifestyles would have made you think would be impossible to reach, it’s time to let it go. I do hope there’s some kind of reconciliation before it’s too late.

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  3. christiansmusicmusings
    May 12, 2019

    Thanks for calling out his album. While I dig CSN/CSN&Y, except for Neil Young, I haven’t really explored much the solo work of the band’s other members. Frankly, I’m not quite sure why.

    One the reasons I’ve always been drawn to CSN&Y is their out-of-this-world harmony singing. As such, I generally agree with the previous comment that the sum is greater than the parts. The exception I would make is Neil Young, one of my all-time favorite artists!

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    • Not sure I knew you were a big Neil Young fan, Christian. I wrote a 10-part series on his discography back in 2013. I started as a somewhat casual fan (well, casual but somehow owning most of his albums) and finished with a greater appreciation for his incredible catalog. His is probably the most rewarding solo discography out of CSNY but he has suffered from being a little too prolific. That hasn’t been an issue for Crosby, which makes his solo work worth paying attention to. He had a few clunkers during the lean years (’80s & early ’90s) but this debut and his recent work (along with those two wonderful CPR albums) are as good…in my opinion…as anything his bandmates have released on their own.

      Liked by 1 person

      • christiansmusicmusings
        May 15, 2019

        You’re certainly right about Neil being prolific! And I should add he’s often also quite spontaneous about recording new music. It’s part of his charm. But it’s also fair to say the results have been mixed.

        Based on Neil’s music I know – and it’s far from all – I’m generally more drawn to his late ‘60s and ‘70s work. I pretty dig every tune that’s on the “Decade” compilation album. I’m also fond of “Freedom” (1989) and “Harvest Moon” (1992). I’ve also listened to some of his more recent albums but unlike his early stuff haven’t been drawn much to them.

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      • Sorry for the delayed response. The Neil albums (and compilation) you mentioned are all classics. If you ever want to dive more deeply into his discography, feel free to use my multi-part series as a guide. There are a lot of clunkers, and some hit-and-miss albums, but there are also a number of classic albums you probably haven’t heard yet. Decade really is an amazing collection and should be in every self-respecting music fan’s collection.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Neil
    May 13, 2019

    The album that created a whole genre with the Planet Earth Rock’n’Roll Orchestra, it’s a dizzying array of stoned talent on there.

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