A.J. Eaton’s “David Crosby: Remember My Name” is a striking portrait of rock legend David Crosby, the front man of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. In the group, Crosby was part of “Ohio,” one of the most famous protest songs ever (composed by Neil Young), about the Kent State shootings in 1970, where four students were shot and killed.
Crosby is a man of experience and memory. He acknowledges that he acted like an arrogant “asshole” in his relations with Stills, Nash & Young but offers no apologies, other than drug addiction. He still carries love for Joni Mitchell but also some palpable resentment. By his own admission he was selfish with her, unable or unwilling to give Mitchell the attention she needed.
Crosby, with a liver transplant, diabetes, and numerous stents in his heart, wonders, writes, continues to sing and is now touring. Music is what he has to give.
Crosby is amused by the fact that Dennis Hopper played a version of him in “Easy Rider” remarking that if he was truly in it himself, it would have been a better film.
Crosby was always notorious, reminiscing with something close to glee about the time Stills and Nash kicked him out of the band for speaking about the Kennedy assassination, being too political and not Pop enough. (Crosby was the artist after all who posed with an American flag wrapped gun at his head while smoking a joint, essentially giving the finger to blind patriotism.)
This rift with his bandmates including Neil Young is a wound that is still open, festering and refusing to heal. Although decades have passed, Stills, Nash, and Young (because of a personal insult) will not talk to him.
We are treated to some colorful animation which highlights this icon’s curmudgeonly whimsy and cheerful recklessness, which he has only recently achieved.
Crosby seems to have a special place in his hell-heart for Jim Morrison, who made fun of his sunglasses during a gig. “I can’t stand that guy,” he says in paraphrase, numerous times.
Yet despite his infamous history, the musician has a Zen awareness in moving forward. We can take heart that his dry comic spirit and his person is intact despite many battles of the heart and mind.
One might want for more self-analysis other than “I was an asshole” but it is enough to know that the artist is still driven and creating. Crosby deeply cares about current affairs but there is also a hidden menagerie of wild thoughts and harmonic desires that thrive within him. He consents that time is the “final currency” and he yearns for more. Afraid of death, he nonetheless accepts reality. Married to Jan Dance since 1987, with one son, we can take comfort that the musician likes his present reality. Crosby does seem to be experiencing something like joy in tranquility. Music as a numinous force is the adhesive that keeps Crosby together and it propels him to more auditory exploration.
“David Crosby: Remember My Name” is a must for any devotee, but even newcomers will enjoy this colorful, insular and meaningful documentary about a very serious yet contrary musician with the inimitable cinematic mustache and laughing eyes.
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