David Crosby: Remember My Name

This A J Eaton documentary (trailer), released so close in time to Echo in the Canyon, covers some of the same ground and personalities, but in a totally different way. Echo is about the musician-heavy Laurel Canyon area in a brief period of the mid-sixties. This film, by contrast, examines one man’s career and his musical and cultural influence over a lifetime, and it shares a fair amount of that music with you.

As to cultural influences, in a poignant coincidence, the film tells how Dennis Hopper modeled the character of Billy in the film Easy Rider on Crosby. It was bittersweet seeing clips from the film so soon after its star Peter Fonda died (a young Jack Nicholson too).

In the documentary, David Crosby says he’s 76 years old, has eight stents in his heart, diabetes, a liver transplant—in short, a load of health problems. “How is it you’re still alive?” he’s asked, when so many others are not. There’s no answer to that, and he doesn’t attempt one.

Yet he’s still making music, still releasing albums as recently as last year. He’s touring. His life is music. It’s too bad he shot himself in the foot so many times with his band mates in the Byrds, and Crosby Stills Nash, with and without Young. His behavior was terrible, but it was in Echo that he said point-blank that Stills, Nash, and Young dumped him “because I was an a——.” Subsequently, acrimony has repeatedly thwarted the group’s attempts to reassemble.

He doesn’t spare himself or make excuses. What emerges from the many hours of interviews with Cameron Crowe, who’s known the musician for 45 years, is compelling viewing. Jon Bream in the Minneapolis Star Tribune says, “Rarely have we seen such an unvarnished, unflattering and revealingly real portrait of a music star.”

Echo was dinged for not including Joni Mitchell (she came later, the filmmakers said), but you see plenty of her here. Crosby saw her perform in Florida and brought her to Los Angeles, but as with most of his relationships with women, theirs was fraught. He blames himself. In 1969, his girlfriend Christine Hinton was killed in an auto accident, and Graham Nash (if I remember correctly) said that after Crosby identified her body, he was never the same. Since 1987, he’s been married to Jan Dance.

Asked whether he has regrets, he admitted to big ones, mainly the wasted decade as a junkie, which led to lost music and lost potential. Time, he says, is the ultimate currency. “Be careful how you spend it.”

Rotten Tomatoes critics’ rating: 91%; audiences: 92%.

6 thoughts on “David Crosby: Remember My Name

  1. I’ve got no use for the Kardashians either, but the glorification of drug use by the Crosby-types helped put our country into the sad state it is today. I suppose that Crosby is at least admitting that it was a poor choice is something to his credit, but for me it’s too little, too late.

  2. I never cared much for his music and after reading this summary I can’t say I have any desire to listen to any of it. At least the guy admits he’s an idiot, but for my two cents why belabor the obvious. It’s unfortunate that so much attention is given to entertainers like him, and next to nothing is written or filmed about the real heroes in our country.

    • It’s the Celebrity Imperative. It was years before I understood who (and why) the Kardashians are a thing. But how many people can name more than one or two (if that) Nobel Prize winners? (If you know who the Kardashians are, please advise). It’s crazy.

  3. An honest review of an unvarnished portrait. Not sure I want to see the film Thanks.

    • There were sad moments about various losses, but to me the saddest was when he talked about his own behavior that led to the alienation and loss of so many friends–LeGuin, Stills, Nash, Young. It’s an ongoing loss, so still hurts. Yet, at times, you see a twinkle in his eyes that reminds you why people tried to stick it out.

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