It’s early 1971. David Crosby has been a huge rock star for seven years. That’s when he became a founding member of the legendary, influential band, The Byrds.
Crosby went on to greater success with one of the great trios of all time, Crosby, Stills and Nash.
Their first self-titled album sold more than four million copies in the United States. A platinum album times four. A year later they followed up by adding Neil Young to the mix. Their next record, “Deja Vu” sold even more than the first….more than seven million units in the U.S. A platinum album times seven.
Pretty heady stuff; especially at a time when record sales royalties for the artists were at an all-time high and baby boomers were buying albums in mass quantities.
By 1971, Stephen Stills had released his first solo album. Neil Young had already dropped three of his own. It was time for David Crosby to put out his first solo work.
Helped by friends and colleagues, “If I Could Only Remember My Name” hit the charts in February 1971. The initial reviews were mixed, at best. It was understandable because this wasn’t the Crosby sound that you heard on earlier albums. This wasn’t the type of album you had on in the background while you were multitasking. You actually had to listen to the music, probably multiple times, to get it.
Yet by the end of the year, you found “If I Could Only Remember My Name” on most of the best albums of 1971 list. Considering there were epic releases by The Who, Led Zeppelin, Joni Mitchell, Carole King, Marvin Gaye and others, this was a major accomplishment.
So how did David Crosby follow up his first solo album? He released his next one in 1989. Yep, in an era where rock musicians were dropping albums almost every year, Crosby waited eighteen years. That’s right….EIGHTEEN YEARS!!
Fast forward to 2021….
It’s already been a huge year for David Crosby.
We’ve seen a lot of retrospectives on the 1971 year in music. Critics and fans alike are reliving and reevaluating what is considered one of the greatest years for recorded music. In almost all of the ‘best of’ types of ratings, you’ll find Crosby’s first album somewhere in the list. Fifty years later, “If I Could Only Remember My Name” still holds up well.
You can also find him very active on Twitter. While most musicians now have Twitter accounts, you can tell they’re handled by someone on their staff. Not so with Crosby. He answers his fan’s questions about his music and his life…both past and present. He even rates how your rolled marijuana joint looks.
Besides Twitter, he has an advice column at Rolling Stone magazine. Who would have figured that David Crosby would be the next Dear Abby?
Oh yeah, more importantly, the dude is still making new music. His latest album, “For Free” was released with near-unanimous positive reviews.
If you like harmony singing, Crosby is one of your go-to guys. He’s one of the best to ever do it. Check out the Joni Mitchell written title track with vocals by Sarah Jarosz.
If you like songs with poignant messages, “For Free” has those, too. “I Think, I” has lyrics about a man finally having his life together and being in a good place. “I Won’t Stay Long” was written by his son, James. The title is perfect for someone who is older, has had health challenges and is aware of his own mortality.
In an era where musicians rarely produce new music, Crosby has now released five albums in the last seven years. He’s not done yet. Crosby says he has at least two more albums of new music before he’s done. He wants to get it all out before he goes…whenever that is.
What looked so promising fifty years ago is finally coming to fruition today. Keep it going David Crosby. As we did fifty years ago after the first solo album, we look forward to seeing what’s next.
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