David Crosby died today and took with him, as he sailed away to another rendezvous with The Southern Cross, a not insignificant piece of my youth.
Growing up in the 60’s I had probably first heard him sing on The Byrds cover of Bob Dylan’s Tamborine Man but I would have been only 10 or 11 years old at the time and it would be four years or so later that Dylan himself sparked in me my lifelong love of words when I cued up his double album of greatest hits – purchased while visiting my sister in Chicago – on my parents console stereo/tv.
All those words, man, probably half of them meaningless, as John Lennon said, but pumped into my brain at volume, to serve me the rest of my life.
But it wasn’t until my high school buddy Steve put Crosby, Stills and Nash’s 1971 masterpiece Déjà Vu on his little record player in his room, sometime the next year, that I truly experienced the full wonder of lyrics melded with music and harmony to produce a sublime beauty.
And it wasn’t until some 3 years later, stoned to the bone on hashish with my Navy shipmates in a rented Italian apartment, listening to “4 Way Street” by the same trio with a very able assist from Neil Young, that I heard the most beautiful piece of music in my life.
Crosby was far from being a perfect man. As I have grown old I’ve have seen most of my musical idols pulled from their pedestals – Chuck Berry, John Lennon, Eric Clapton – all, it turns out, had feet of clay.
And David was no different, at various times arrogant, self-absorbed, chauvinistic, prone to addiction and excess… I once argued with him on Twitter about the worth of another of my idols, Jim Morrison whom he could not stand, and I could not wrangle out of David what Laurel Canyon mishap caused such animosity.
For Morrison was but the most extreme manifestation of the problematic personality traits that all of these artists, and others, possessed to varying degrees.
But they are all gone now, along with you, David, and with you all goes a huge part of me.
Fair skies and following seas, Cros.
You all had your demons, but you, David, among them all, sang like an angel.
Thanks for the memories!
RIP David! Your songs will live on.
Bless you Dino. I think you put to words what I felt last night. I wish I coulda been in Italy with you in /74 smoking that hash and listening, but alas I was never in the Navy and I’m a solid 5-10 years younger than you, but emotionally, I’m right back there with you.
I will miss David, myriad flaws notwithstanding.
I loved being at sea, even if it was on steel cruisers and not Wooden Ships, and I think that is why I bonded so closely to Cros’ music.
Wish you had been there too, Bryan, we always had room for one more and it was a magical time…