Revisiting my extensive music collection, one artist at a time
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.