9 Songs, 37 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Although it has long been overshadowed by works from his better-known bandmates Neil Young and Stephen Stills, David Crosby’s 1971 solo debut is beginning to receive its due as a vivid portrayal of post-hippie malaise. The sublimely sedated grooves of “Cowboy Movie” and “Laughing” are a clear continuation of the patented CSNY vibe, but with Crosby as ringleader the proceedings become hazier and hazier until we are left with the hypnotic wordless incantations of “Song With No Words (Tree With No Leaves).” At the time of its release the album was dismissed as aimless and pretentious, and those claims are not entirely unfounded. But over the years Crosby’s lone solo statement (he wouldn’t make another solo album until 1989) came to signify something more than marijuana ramblings. Like John Phillip’s Wolfking of L.A. and Gene Clark’s No Other, If I Could Only Remember My Name doesn’t sound so much like the party as the morning after. This is the sound of all those Woodstock vibes evaporating in a warm California breeze. It’s not “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” but it is, in its own sad way, just as sweet.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Although it has long been overshadowed by works from his better-known bandmates Neil Young and Stephen Stills, David Crosby’s 1971 solo debut is beginning to receive its due as a vivid portrayal of post-hippie malaise. The sublimely sedated grooves of “Cowboy Movie” and “Laughing” are a clear continuation of the patented CSNY vibe, but with Crosby as ringleader the proceedings become hazier and hazier until we are left with the hypnotic wordless incantations of “Song With No Words (Tree With No Leaves).” At the time of its release the album was dismissed as aimless and pretentious, and those claims are not entirely unfounded. But over the years Crosby’s lone solo statement (he wouldn’t make another solo album until 1989) came to signify something more than marijuana ramblings. Like John Phillip’s Wolfking of L.A. and Gene Clark’s No Other, If I Could Only Remember My Name doesn’t sound so much like the party as the morning after. This is the sound of all those Woodstock vibes evaporating in a warm California breeze. It’s not “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” but it is, in its own sad way, just as sweet.

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About David Crosby

Though David Crosby’s gossamer harmonies helped define the take-it-easy era of Laurel Canyon singer/songwriters, his seemingly gentle tunes also grapple with massive cultural upheaval and his own personal traumas. The Los Angeles native started shaping the early-’60s folk-rock hits of The Byrds with his chiming (and endlessly copied) guitar melodies, and he helped push the band toward its psychedelic inclinations with the serpentine-but-snarling "Eight Miles High." By the late ’60s, Crosby had formed a partnership with Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, and Neil Young—all exemplars of the Woodstock era’s quieter but no less impactful non-rock side. Uniting in various formations over the decades to come, the quartet's lilting music captures the essence of rockers suddenly grasping toward domestic bliss, makes utter romantic devastation sound downright lovely, and occasionally flashes a sharp political edge, notably on Crosby's surprisingly tough-minded anthem of hippie pride "Almost Cut My Hair." In his solo career, he's explored the mental and emotional fallout of the peace-and-love generation, veering from hallucinatory song-suites to intimate confessionals—which have in turn been reclaimed by indie rockers like Fleet Foxes and Bon Iver, who also sought to blur the line between psychedelic experimentation and candid folk.

HOMETOWN
Los Angeles, CA
GENRE
Rock
BORN
August 14, 1941

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