Thursday, August 8, 2019

You'll remember his name -- and his stories

I'm not sure I'd like to hang out with David Crosby for more than a couple of hours -- but you can watch the documentary David Crosby: Remember My Name and spend a fascinating hour and 35 minutes with an ornery musician and singer whose life embodies the high points, excesses, and eccentricities of a long career as a rock star. Beginning with The Byrds, Crosby went on to be part of Crosby, Stills, and Nash and then Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. He now records and performs with another group, but the most fascinating parts of the documentary -- directed by A.J. Eaton with interviewing chores going to Cameron Crowe -- involve a celebrity life which came to include drugs, so much so that Crosby wound up doing a stint in prison. Now clean and well into his 70s, Crosby doesn't seem interested in self-protection. If he's trying to make himself look good, I shudder to think how he'd appear if he were attempting to conceal something. He's burned bridges. He says no one from the musical circles in which he rose to prominence talks to him anymore. There are many other observations including Crosby's hatred of Jim Morrison, his admiration for Joni Mitchell and his recollections of Woodstock and other rock landmarks. Sad notes also abound, the most poignant of them stemming from the death of Christine Hinton, one of Crosby's lovers who died in a car crash. As he talks about his experiences, Crosby always seems to be telling the truth to Crowe, who began his career as a young rock journalist and evolved into a filmmaker. It's difficult not to believe that Crosby's life has exacted a toll. You can see an accumulation of hard years in a face that retains a hippy outline but also shows its droops and sags, like a coat that's been worn too much. Eaton begins the documentary with Crosby telling a story about a time when, as a young man he got smashed out his mind and went to hear John Coltrane play his saxophone in a Chicago club. Crosby delivers a riveting account of his encounter with Coltrane. I doubt you'll ever forget it, and like many of Crosby's stories, you're right there with him when he tells it.

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