John Kwit – North American Reporter for 4WaySite
August 19, 2014
Questions: John Kwit and Dolf van Stijgeren
Photos: Buzz Person
This exclusive interview of David Crosby is being published for the first time approximately one year after it actually occurred. To give the reader a better perspective, a timeline of certain key events is needed. This interview was held during the 2014 Crosby, Stills and Nash (CSN) Summer, about one month after David Crosby had wrapped up his final solo concert in support of his new album, Croz. The interview took place one week before Neil Young’s impending divorce became public knowledge, approximately 5 months prior to the untimely passing of former Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young (CSNY) drummer Dallas Taylor, and a little over 7 months prior to the unfortunate long-term hospitalization of Joni Mitchell.
A separate interview with his son, CSN keyboard player James Raymond, had just concluded.
This interview was conducted backstage, prior to the CSN concert at the Aiken Theatre in the Centre, Evansville, Indiana, by John Kwit, North American Reporter of 4WaySite.
Over the past 32 years of seriously following CSNY, the reporter has had the good fortune of meeting David Crosby dozens of times, but only in passing. An interview was sought on more than one occasion and when the green light was given for this one, driving 5 hours one way to conduct it seemed like a small price to pay. David’s monumental 3 CD Voyage box set and his outstanding new album, Croz, made the time pass all too quickly.
When David entered the room, the interview’s first impression was that he appeared extremely thin and frail. David and I sat down opposite each other at a long table set up in a room decked out with food and beverages. His son, Django, came with him and he sat down on a nearby couch.
Obligatory introductions and thanks were met with a circling hand gesture, meaning: Let’s get on with it. The interviewer was so nervous at the beginning that he forgot to start the tape recorder. Unfortunately, the first question which had to do with how David was able to keep up with the hectic pace of touring and recording after having just celebrated his 73rd birthday five days earlier are lost to the ages.
We were told in advance that we would have a half hour of David’s time. By the time the interview ended, we had chatted for an hour. Conducting the interview was a joy. Looking back, we wish it could have been filmed for posterity. During our discussion, David was brutally honest, protective, humorous, somber, knowledgeable, forgetful, angry, happy and generous.
We’ve left everything in it’s raw, virtually unedited state. At the end, when David not only thanked the interviewer but told him he had really done his homework and thought the interview was cool, it was crystal clear that something really extraordinary had transpired. We hope our readers enjoy the ride, which just may be the longest in-depth interview of David that has ever been committed to print.
We would like to express our special thanks and sincere appreciation to David Crosby, as well as CSN management and tour staff for graciously allowing us to conduct this interview. It is our hope that this is just the first of many. Enjoy!
4WS: Let’s get that thing (the tape recorder) working here! Now we’re going. OK! I was lucky enough to take in your two recent (solo) shows in Chicago at the City Winery (July 21 & 22, 2014). How in the world did you stumble upon this local boy from Pocatello, Idaho, (singer-songwriter) Marcus Eaton?
DC: I think it’s Boise, Idaho, isn’t it?
DC: He says Pocatello?
4WS: He says Pocatello.
DC: That might be where he was born. He lives in…he…his family’s from Boise. A mutual friend, a guy named Norm Waite, turned me on to him. He said I heard this kid and he’s like really, really, really good and you’ll want to check him out. And I did and I liked him, and then some. He’s a very, very creative guy, Marcus. And he turns out to be a really nice guy. He doesn’t play or sing or write like anybody else I’ve heard. And he’s very, very talented. And he did some very, very beautiful playing and singing on my record (Croz), and I’m going to sing on his record. (laughs) He doesn’t need anybody else to play but I’m going to sing some stuff on his record in return. But he’s wound up being a good friend, a close friend. He’s a very talented cat.
4WS: When is?…is that the one that he?…I hopped on his (Marcus’) website…he’s got a little, he had a little Kick-Starter fund where he…
DC: Yeah, right, yeah.
4WS: …was trying to get some stuff together. That’s the one (record) he’s going to be working on. So when do you think you’ll have time to squeeze in some lyrics, in between tour dates and etcetera?
DC: I think I’ll be able to do it, you know…I’ll probably get the harmony vocals that I’m going to do, you know, done this Fall, you know, before Christmas I’m pretty sure. I mean he’s been very patient about waiting, you know, for me to be able to work on it. I’ve got to get it done.
4WS: OK. Chicago. You’ve got a lot of history with the city of Chicago, that’s where I’m from.
DC: Yeah, I lived there actually for a while.
4WS: You lived in Chicago, early ‘60’s, folk days.
DC: Yeah, on Wells Street right by North. North Avenue.
4WS: Any particular fond memories come to mind when you think of that…
4WS: …those days?
DC: There used to be in those days some, some good clubs there: Old Town North, Mother Blues. Pretty good places to sing and, and it was actually a pretty, you know there was a lot of jazz, there was a number of jazz clubs there and, and it was a pretty great place. I, it was, you know it wasn’t easy singing with one acoustic guitar in a bar and…
4WS: And passing the hat?
DC: Well, no we didn’t have to pass the hat that was, I did have to do that when I first started in New York but in, in, by the time I got to Chicago they were actually paying me, so.
4WS: OK. Yeah I was going to say that it’s, it’s (a) pretty rare occurrence to have you in town in Chicago playing a couple nights stand and I was wondering…that was, that was probably back in the ‘60’s when you there doing some solo stuff as, as… as to do that…
DC: Well, actually it was Django’s idea. He said…(backtracks) we were going to do what Graham (Nash) did with his solo tour which is go hit a bunch of, you know, small theatres that are relatively close together that you can do one after another.
DC: But they were in New England and nobody would have ever reviewed them and there would have been no press off them, there wouldn’t have been any buzz. And he (Django) said why don’t you, why don’t you just do, like little short residencies, play like 4 or 5 nights…
DC: …in L.A., San Francisco and New York, Chicago…that kind of thing.
DC: And so I did that. I thought it was a smart idea. And I did that and it worked out very well.
DC: We got lot of press. We got a lot of attention. And doing multiple nights you get to fine-tune the thing. You really try to work, work it up and get, get really good with it.
4WS: And CSN has taken on that idea with the Beacon Theatre in New York.
DC: Well, we’re not, we’re not the ones who have taken it on. We watched (laughs)…
4WS: (laughs) Watched the Allman Brothers…
DC: …Steely Dan and the Allman Brothers do it, you know. (David changes his voice and speaks in a nasal tone for the next sentence) Said, hmmm, this is a pretty good idea!
DC: It has to do with the Beacon being a great room to play. And audiences love it because it sounds good there. A lot of music in the walls but pretty much everybody that goes to the Beacon likes it.
DC: There isn’t a bad seat in the house and it sounds good. It’s a great place to play. Backstage is about the size of a postage stamp.
4WS: (laughs) This (the room we were in backstage) is bigger.
DC: Much. This is bigger than the whole entire backstage.
4WS: Ok. One more question about Chicago: There has been probably hundreds of books, thousands of articles written about CSN &/or Y and I think I’ve read just about every one of them, but, when it comes to talking about that very first gig in Chicago at the Auditorium Theatre I think there’s like a grand total of a page that’s been written…
DC: That’s because Woodstock happened two days later. (laughs)
4WS: (laughs) Do you have any, for the historical record, do you have any great recollections of that first Chicago gig which was actually two shows in one day?
DC: Not for us.
4WS: Not for you?
DC: No. It was only one show. Do you know who was the opening act?
4WS: I do! Ms. Joni Mitchell.
DC: Yeah. That was pretty stellar. I remember it being a, a very good gig. We were excited, you know. We were just starting out with CSNY and, and we were pretty buzzed already on, on the word that we were getting off of, you know, what was going to happen the next day or two days later at Woodstock. It was already starting to sound like it was going to get out of hand and that was pretty exciting, which pulled all the attention away from the opening gig at Chicago, but it was fun, it was a good night. The Auditorium Theatre was small and pretty nice and Joni did a good set, you know. We did a good set. It was a very nice first gig.
4WS: Yeah, now, Stephen (Stills) is famous for uttering the lines, you know “This is our (whatever, this is our) first gig in front of people” at Woodstock. How about in Chicago…
DC: He (Stephen) was wrong.
4WS: …Were you guys, were you guys nervous when you went on that very first night? I mean, you had been playing…
DC: More nervous in Woodstock and he (Stephen) should have said, “This is our, only our second time in front of audience.” But I, but I think…maybe he said that.
4WS: Maybe he did say that.
DC: He might have said that.
4WS: Maybe I’m paraphrasing it wrong.
DC: But no, not really. I don’t really get nervous before I go on, I mean I’ve been doing it, you know, for a long fucking time, so.
4WS: OK, so in your, your recollection is that (there was only a) one show Chicago debut…
4WS: …and not two in one day?
4WS: An early and late (show)?…
DC: No. We’ve never done two in one day.
4WS: (doubting David) OK.
4WS: That might correct (“change” would be better word) some of the things that I’ve seen in print!
DC: Yeah, yeah, tell them to go back and research because we’ve…and truthfully there isn’t, there is no time in the entire existence of the band where we’ve done two shows in one day. Ever. I don’t think we could. We do a three-hour show.
Editors note: We love a good historical mystery! Local Chicago newspaper ads from the time period in, including some published on the day of the show indicate that CSN&Y were scheduled to perform both a 7:00 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. show on August 16, 1969, at the Auditorium Theatre. In addition, Pete Long’s meticulously written book, Ghosts On The Road: Neil Young In Concert 1961-2006, lists a CSNY early and late show on August 16th. Raising further credence to CSNY’s ability to play two shows in one day, Long’s book also notes that the band played the Altamont Speedway (yes, the infamous concert where, during a set by the Rolling Stones, an individual was fatally stabbed by a member of the Hell’s Angels motorcycle club) near Livermore, California, early in the day on December 6, 1969, then traveled to Pauley Pavilion at UCLA in Westwood, California, to play an evening show on the same date. Who is correct? To be determined…
4WS: Let’s, let’s move on to the present. You’ve got a great CD (Croz) here. You jokingly say that you, you think you might have sold 19 copies. I think I bought every version of those so you sold a lot more than 19. How do you account for this commercial success? What, what happened here? I think it’s the best album you’ve, you’ve ever done.
DC: I, I really like it a lot. I like how it turned out. I like it that it doesn’t, you know, sound like anything else that I’ve done. (It) has a lot to do with James (Raymond, David’s biological son and keyboard player for CSN). James (was a) very strong influence. We co-wrote an awful lot of the stuff on that album and he produced it very, very well. I think it’s, you know, I’m pretty proud of it. I think it’s, it’s sold around 70,000 copies, which, you know, for these days is, is a lot. I’m not sure, you’ll have to check that. I think it’s around that. And, and it’s…I really like the quality of the songs, you know. If you don’t have good songs then you really don’t, you really shouldn’t have started the record in the first place and I really, I really think we had good songs all the way through there.
4WS: Well, I remembered reading it probably on Dolf’s (van Stijgeren) 4WaySite years ago that you were, you know, I’m going to, I’m going to make an album with my son. We’re going to put this together. You know, and it took a while but boy it was worth it. So are there, is there a stand-out track?
DC: Well the reason it took a while is because we didn’t have any money. So we made it at his (James’) house, in his studio. And…and…he’s (James) not my only son. He’s (pointing at Django) also my son.
4WS: Right. (both of us laughing) Don’t forget I’ve, I’ve read every article, I think, just about.
DC: So …
4WS: (I) don’t know everything.
DC: …but I, yeah, no the reason it took so long was that, that I’d have to go down to L.A. from where, where we live up in San…well, up in the middle of California…and…and… and then go down and spend two or three days at James’ and we’d get, you know, get some work done and then I’d…go back and then come, come again a week later or something. It took us a long time. But, we really didn’t have a choice. We couldn’t afford to go into a studio and pay their rates.
4WS: So when you did it, when you had people coming in, (former Dire Straits guitarist) Mark Knopfler and the like, did they do things in this day and age by coming into the studio or did they do it over the, you know, at their own place?
DC: Well, Knopfler lives in England.
DC: So, he did it in his studio which is by repute one of the best studios in all, in all of England. And, he…(speaking in a very sincere tone) that was a very kind thing for him to play on that tune (What’s Broken). I think the only reason he did, because we don’t even know each other, (is) he liked the song. He thought it was a really good song. And, and that appealed to him so he played on it. I don’t think he would have done it if, unless he really liked the song because he doesn’t know me from Adam. I mean, he knows who I am but we’ve never even met.
DC: It was a really a kind thing for him to do and I ’m very grateful to him. Because he, he really, really played something beautiful on the song.
4WS: (Do) you have a stand-out track on the album that you’re most proud of?
DC: Jesus…I really like Radio a lot. I like what it says, a lot…what it’s about.
4WS: And it’s, and it’s not nautical? (laughing, since David insisted this was the case when he introduced the song to his Chicago concert audience).
DC: (laughing) Well it is, it’s couched in nautical terms but, you know, it’s…it…the idea is that you can actually make a difference in other people’s lives and, and you know, it’s a question of whether you want to bother and I think people should. I certainly do.
4WS: When you do the songwriting have things changed for you as far as the process goes? Do you have a notebook that you keep by the side of your bed? Do things come to you in the middle of the night and you’re scribbling…?
DC: I do have a pad there. I learned to do that from a science fiction author friend of mine, a guy named William Gibson. I said (to William), “You know, does this happen to you? Do, do, do things come to you just as you’re falling asleep, when the sort of waking mind is, is going out?” And you know really heads (have) got a lot of levels and it seems as if another level gets, gets a shot at the steering wheel for a minute as you’re on the way out, that, that makes longer leaps of connection. And, and somehow all of sudden words are coming to you and you start, you know, that’s why you keep the pad there. He (Gibson) says, “Oh yeah, all writers do that. We all know about it. We call it ‘The Elves Take Over the Workshop.’”
DC: And, and, he said, he’s the one who taught me, told me to keep a pad. Joni (Mitchell) is the first one who said, “Write everything down.” She said, “If you get four words in a row that you like, write them down.”
DC: And there isn’t really one (songwriting) process.
4WS: I know.
DC: Sometimes the whole thing comes all at once. Sometimes the music comes and you wait for the words. Sometimes the words come and you wait for the music. Or you go to somebody else, see if they’ll, they’ll think of something you wouldn’t of. All of those things have happened.
DC: Sometimes somebody else gives, writes a set of words that appeals to you a lot. That’s what Holding Onto Nothing is…
DC:…(it) really is a wonderful song. And (trumpet player) Wynton (Marsalis) playing on that! Oh my God did he do me a favor! Wow, is that a beautiful solo!
4WS: Yeah, he’s a nice place, (I mean) person to have on your team.
DC: He’s a nice person period. He’s a really wonderful guy.
4WS: Yeah. You mentioned in Chicago a new song that popped into your head. The song goes something like: How can there only be one way? Is there a working title to this song?
DC: That’s, yeah, it’s called What Makes It So?
4WS: What Makes it So?
DC: And, yeah I, I…I like that particular line a lot.
4WS: So now that Croz, Croz is out and that song is sitting there and I had a chance to chat with James here a little while ago (and) he said that there might be a few songs on the cutting room floor that were in the process of…
DC: They’re not really on the floor! There’s other ones that we’ve been working on, that we’re probably, that we’re probably not done working on yet. I know James has got a couple in the hopper. I‘ve got one of Joni’s that I’m kind of obsessed with called…(long pause)
Django: (chimes in from the couch) Amelia.
DC: Amelia. Amelia. And it’s, it’s one of her most beautiful songs, I think. It’s really a stunner. James and I have a version of it that, I, I might be able to better some of the vocal but I like the arrangement. It’s a very, very…very simple very straightforward and it’s a beautiful song.
4WS: So when will, when will the world get to hear something like this? And, and will it come out like on…
DC: When it’s done. I never try to put deadlines up, you know. I never try to, you know, crowd myself that way. I just say it’ll be, when I get it done I’ll, I’ll hand it over. It’s…life’s too unpredictable to, you know, to try to schedule when an album gets (finished)…it’s like trying to say when the baby’s going to get born. Yes, you can go in and do a cesarean but you still have to wait for the baby to be ready, you know, to even to do that. I, I’m not trying to predict, you know, because I’m still in the same circumstance. I still don’t have the money to go in and rent a studio. So, it’ll take me a while to, to get it but if, if songs are coming and I have that one and I have another one that I’m working on now and I think James has a couple that he’s working on. And I’ve got one that I’m working on with (corrects himself) two that I’m working on with Marcus (Eaton). And I have another one that I’m working on with (singer/songwriter and former Doobie Brothers and Steely Dan member) Michael McDonald. And I have another one that I’m working on with Shane (Fontayne, CSN guitarist). And…there’s, there’s stuff coming. I, I can sort of smell an album wafting through the air.
4WS: Well, again I had, I had the good fortune of being able to take in Graham Nash’s last solo tour. And he did, he had a few solo songs that have not seen the light of day. So it sound like there’s, there’s some material out there, so…
DC: He’s got a couple that we’re doing in the set here. One called Burning For The Buddha…
DC: …that’s just a fantastic song that he wrote with James and another one called…(looks to Django for assistance)…What’s the one about, about Levon called?
Django: (One indecipherable word)…Us In The Depot? Wait.
4WS: The one about Levon Helm, yeah, Levon Helm.
Django: What are you talking about there, pops? Who, who, who’s song?
DC: It’s Nash’s song. It’s…
DC: Lay Your Burden Down.
4WS: Yes. Yes.
DC: That one really…
Django: …that’s not in our column that’s why I wasn’t listening.
DC: …that’s, that’s, he has, he has two real stunners and, and several others that he’s working on. Those two are fleshed out and ready to record. They’re really good. They go down very well, both of them, every night.
4WS: So as long as you’ve got these nice big, you’ve got all of these great songs, can you get on the horn with Neil (Young) and you’ve got Stephen (Stills) right here and say, “Hey, we’ve got some great songs. Let’s put something together.”
DC: No, I really can’t!
4WS: You can’t do that?
DC: Neil changed his phone number and, and cut off his email. So I don’t have really a way to reach him.
4WS: You’re kidding me!
4WS: You’re not kidding me! (laughing)
Django: That might not be the best thing to put on record, that’s all I can say.
DC: Well…it’s true. I, I, I, normal, under normal circumstances…yeah I could call his office and get a message to him but…
Editors note: This interview occurred exactly one week before the news of Neil Young’s divorce became public knowledge so in retrospect his need for privacy is understood.
4WS: (still laughing because this seemed at the time like just another instance of Neil Young being, well, Neil Young – playing by his own rules) Well this, before this goes into print on 4waysite we, you know, we (could) run these things by Cree (Miller, CSN Manager) and all that so whatever they don’t want to have in there (makes snipping sound), they’ll, they’ll strike out but I appreciate your, your honesty. Let’s jump to the ’74 box set (CSNY 1974) if we could. There, you guys had so many songs that you did on that tour is, is there anything that did not make the cut that you thought now that it’s out, boy there’s, you know there’s, there’s this one that I did that just didn’t make it and I’d like to see it…
DC: No, not, not really. They, they did, Joel (Bernstein) and Graham really spent probably over three years pulling that together and Stanley Johnston who engineered it. And they were very thorough and very, you know, unafraid to spend the extra time digging out the extra piece. And I think it’s a very complete, very, very good choices made, you know, document of that time. The thing that I like the best, and, and they caught it, was that we were very adventuresome. We were very, very willing to take chances and there’s, you, you get that about how we played, how we sang, what songs we did. We would do a brand new song and people would join in on it the first time they heard it. Stuff would happen that was obviously unscripted, you know, and, and that was the norm rather than, than the exception and that attitude gets captured on the record, you know. And I think that’s one of the best things that there was about CSNY. I think that’s why Neil liked the band was that it would be on edge and out in unpredictable territory, most of the time. And it’s certainly one of the main reasons I liked it, you know.
4WS: I like it. I’ve, I’ve got a…
DC: It’s a helluva’ record.
4WS: It’s a great record. It’s a great…and I was…
DC: They did a fantastic job. I think Stanley did an unbelievable job engineering it to make songs from very, very different environments sound as if they were being played in the same place. The ambience of, of each hall of course is totally different.
DC: Every night’s a completely different sound environment.
DC: And they manage to make it all sound like it was all happening in the same place and it was all one show and of course it wasn’t.
4WS: Right, right.
DC: But they did a terrific job with it. Sonically it’s an, an amazing piece of work.
4WS: Do you, do you have it on vinyl as well as…
DC: I do.
4WS: You do.
4WS: I was told by the merchandise-fellow (in the venue lobby) that I better get my order in because they’re almost, they’re almost out.
DC: They’re almost gone, yeah. And you know, I guess later on we’ll do a reissue of just vinyl, because people are really liking…(Sneezes)
4WS: Bless you.
DC: I made sure that…(Sneezes)
4WS: Bless you.
DC: I made sure that, that Croz came out on vinyl. And it sounds good. We did a thing with Croz that was very interesting which was the CD took up three sides of vinyl to cut it deep enough and wide enough, you know, (for an) absolute optimum cut…
DC: …so that left us a fourth side.
DC: So we took two of the best mixes and put them on the fourth side at 45 rpm…
DC: …which is like a vinyl hi-res(olution), kind of. (laughs)
4WS: I like that idea better then, not to pick on Neil, but I think Neil’s Psychedelic Pill was multi-rec(ord) vinyl and on one side it was blank or artwork or something. It was a non (musical side) but, you know, I’d rather hear the music.
DC: Yeah, me too.
4WS: Yeah. At that time, (the 1974 tour) CSNY, I mean before that time, CSNY was in many respects Stephen’s band…and maybe, maybe in 197(4)…
DC: Well maybe in Stephen’s mind it was but not with the rest of us.
4WS: Not with the rest of you? (laughing) I was going to say there seemed to be some sort of a shift maybe in that ‘74 tour but…
DC: Not really. All of us are strong enough egos where we’ve never let any one guy be the leader.
Django: (chimes in from the couch) Hence the name (CSNY).
DC: Hence the name. And, and what Stephen is, is a motivating force, man. He writes great songs and he plays like he’s got his hair on fire. You know, and you can’t ignore him, he’s a force on stage.
DC: And, and I love him for it. But it was certain(ly)…Nope. Not his band. Our band. Definitely. Everybody, everybody in it can pull it any direction at any time. We’re all real strong that way. We all have real strong songs. It’s really about the songs, man. The whole thing always comes down to the songs.
DC: It’s not how many notes you can play on the guitar. It’s not how fantastic you can sing. It’s do you have something to play and sing…really. You know, (be)cause you can do all the fiddling around you want on, on a song, all the production in the world, if it doesn’t, if it isn’t a song that makes you feel something in the first place, you’re polishing a turd. (both of us laughing) (It) might be a highly polished turd but it’s still a turd. That’s what I think of most of the pop music that’s out (there now).
4WS: Yeah. Is there, is there anybody currently that’s really caught your attention? I know I’ve, I’ve read in the past Fleet Foxes, I think, came to mind as some, some band…
DC: We like them (be)cause, I went to see them and I liked it that they can sing (but) I think they need to mature as writers. I think they need to, to write stuff that affects you more strongly than, than they have so far. But they can certainly sing. They have four guys in the band, at least…
DC: …that can sing. And I like, I like that about them. I like Mum…Mumford & Sons.
DC: I think they deliver quite well. I think they’re good. My favorites, you know, are usually singer-songwriters. They were, you know, people like Jackson (Browne) and Joni and Bob (Dylan). I think my current favorites are Shawn Colvin who I think is a freaking genius and Marc Cohn who I think is a fantastic writer, singer, song-(writer), you know, player, everything. He does everything.
DC: I think they’re my two faves: Shawn and, and Marc.
4WS: Concerts. Are there any particular concerts, I know the ’74 box set is an amalgamation of about 8 or 9 shows, is (are) there any shows that you have done, let’s not, let’s throw Woodstock away because I don’t want to talk about Woodstock…
DC: (Hearty laughter. At this point in the interview there seemed to be a noticeable shift in David’s demeanor. A twinkle came into his eye. He became extremely comfortable and any guards that he had up were suddenly let down.)
4WS: …what, what concerts stand out in your mind that you have been involved in that, that really, that (you thought) this is the pinnacle of live performance?
DC: It’s so tough, man, it’s like saying, it’s like saying which is your favorite song or which, which one of your children do you love the most.
4WS: I’ve got that, I’ve got that question here. Not the children one.
DC: Well that’s what it’s kind of like, you know, well. I can’t, you know. (pauses then clears his throat) There’ve been an awful lot of, of (concerts), that I’ve really loved, man. I don’t know if I can pick one from…I don’t know if I can pick one. I mean there have been…you know, every time we play Santa Barbara Bowl it’s hometown boy makes good and it’s always a, a pretty exciting night, but…Jesus…(pauses)…try singing with David Gilmour at, at Royal Albert Hall. Not an ordinary evening. But, neither was Hyde Park opening for Paul McCartney. That was a pretty exciting gig. Recent gig. You know, I don’t know, man. I, I’ve done so many gigs in so many combinations, Crosby/Nash…
4WS: Right, right.
DC: …Crosby solo, Crosby with my own band, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, singing with other people, you know. Singing with (singer-songwriter) Bonnie (Raitt), singing Angel from Montgomery with Bonnie Raitt. That’ll charge up your batteries believe me. Singing Mexico with James Taylor…
4WS: (Singing) On tour with (singer-songwriter) Judy Collins.
DC: That was OK, you know.
4WS: That was OK?
DC: She’s, she’s a friend, you know. There’s, it’s, it’s pretty tough to pick one, you know. I mean there are things that I wish I could have done that I, I will never get to do because I probably, you know, it’s just not in the cards.
DC: I wish I could be Michael McDonald and have, have sung in, in Steely Dan, I, that would’ve been, been big fun. That I often wish I were Michael McDonald just (be)cause he ‘s got like one of the greatest voices in history.
4WS: You, you’ve made me think of, you know, there are some people you say who have, who are no longer with us who you can’t do that, but so who’s, who’s still around that you would like to sing with that you, that you haven’t got a chance to…yet.
DC: That’s a good question. I’d like to sing again with Gilmour, I’d like to sing with McCartney. I’d love to sing, I’d love to sing with Mark Knopfler. I have a big fan thing for Mark Knopfler. I think he’s fucking wonderful. Did you ever hear that song that he did with James Taylor called Sailing to Philadelphia? It’s a…
4WS: Hum me a few bars now. (laughing)
DC: Well do you know who. you know who, you know what the Mason-Dixon line is right?
DC: OK. That’s two guys: Mason and Dixon. They were a surveyor and a navigator.
4WS: I did not know that.
DC: English. And they sailed over from England to Philadelphia to draw the line between Rhode Island and the state next to it I forget what state that was. And that line got extended in people’s minds to divide the north from the south. Hence Dixie comes from “Dixon” who was one of the two guys. It’s a great song. He sings one of, Knopfler sings one guy’s part and James Taylor sings the other guy’s part. And it’s an awesome tune. You should listen to it. If you like, if you like songs you’ll love that one…
DC: …it’s a dandy.
4WS: I will have to check that out…and our reader’s will too. Let’s jump to, quickly to, to something that maybe is a very complicated answer but it’s always intrigued me. You’ve got a great Crosby/Nash album called Wind on the Water. I can look on the Internet and I can see 110 different versions of that album with different album title names that come from Europe. How is that possible that…
DC: Because people ignore the rules and cheat. Those are all boots (bootlegs).
4WS: So they’re all (boots).
DC: Each time if it’s, one came out in the last couple of months of, of a radio show that I did. Somebody stole the tape…
DC: …and just put it out. We have to, (it) makes us have to hire a lawyer and chase them down and shut them down.
4WS: I, I was wondering, when those, when those came out I was wondering whether there was (lost) copyright (issues going on)…
DC: All that they do, in, in places like, in places like particularly in Italy they’ll, somebody will just decide they can get away with it until somebody shuts them down and everything, every penny that they get before they get shut down they can just walk off with. And so they do. They’re just cheats.
4WS: (deep breath of disgust)
DC: Happens all the time.
4WS: Taking, taking money away from the artists.
4WS: Speaking of ways though in order to get some money to you, since the record business isn’t the way it used to be, you’ve got live concerts at least when you go solo and Graham does solo, Crosby/Nash, you’ve got the ability to get audio downloads of the concerts…
DC: I like that!
4WS: I like that too. Is there a reason why CSN doesn’t do that?
DC: I don’t know why they decided to not do it, but they didn’t decide to do it. I think that it’s an easy way for people who love the thing, you know, to be able…What they’re doing I believe is that you can get them but only after the fact. You can’t get them right away. I think you can get…am I wrong, Django?
Django: I’m not sure. You might be able to get it off the (CSN web) site.
DC: I think maybe you can get a…you can buy a code that will let you download it later.
4WS: Oh, OK. [Editor’s note: I don’t think that’s true for CSN concerts.]
DC: We don’t try to…you can…
Django: Well, not exactly.
DC: …if, if you have the, if you’re willing to carry the equipment, you can load, you can load, you know, little…Django help!
Django: What? USBs?
DC: Yes. Yes. Little USB, you know…
Django: Thumb drives.
DC: …yeah, pretty quickly. Much more quickly then you can cut CDs. We, we, we were trying to do it, Nash and I were trying to do it clear back when you would have had to cut CDs but it would have taken half a truck load of stuff to do it.
DC: But with, with, with how fast you can load a hard, a little drive, you know, a thumb drive, you can almost do it but people have to wait around for a half hour.
DC: They don’t really want to do that. So it’s easier to just say, “Here.”
4WS: Here’s your card.
DC: And you will be able to get it.
4WS: Yeah. I, I like it a lot because there’s nothing like reliving a, a really good show.
DC: Yeah. [David then goes into character and puts on a loud, male, concert-going fan voice) You hear that when he screams out, “Hey”? That’s me!
4WS: (laughing) You have a expressed a, a desire to go out on one more tour with Neil Young, as part of CSNY. Is there a reason why touring with Neil one more time would be so important to you as opposed to…
DC: I like…
4WS: …working with him in the studio?
DC: I like playing more live with him. I like it (be)cause it’s, it’s, it has that quality that I described to you earlier: You don’t know what’s going to happen. And I like that about him. I also like his music a lot. I mean this is a guy who, you know, at least during a certain period of his life wrote some amazing songs. Old Man will always be one of my favorite songs. Ever. Of anybody’s. And you know he’s a good creative force and he’s completely different, you know, each of us in a completely different color in a completely different thread we, we together make a very interesting weave. And I like him! And I would love to work with but it’s really not the be-all and end-all, you know, I mean I can, I can not work with him and I’m fine. But, if I get a chance to I’d love to, yes.
4WS: Alright. And, Neil also has this way of bringing back other bands like Buffalo Springfield, brings back Crazy Horse. How about yourself, (do you have) any thoughts on getting together in the future with anybody who was involved with the Byrds, CPR (David Crosby, Jeff Pevar and James Raymond) anything like that?
DC: Yeah I’d like to play again with Jeff Pevar I think he’s a terrific player. I, I’ve, I’ve always really think, thought, he was one of the most talented guitar players. And he and I and James, you know, obviously made some, some music that I’m very, very proud of, writing together, playing together, singing together and it was very good. I’d like to do that some more. I, I really do like Jeff a lot. I think he’s a terrifically talented cat.
4WS: Yeah, it was one, that’s one of the band iterations that I never got a chance to see so I was happy in Chicago (The City Winery) that you threw in at least, I think, at least one CPR song, That House.
DC: Yeah and I think Jeff was part of the writing on that too. I really, you know, I don’t think the (reformed Buffalo) Springfield thing worked at all. I saw them and it just didn’t have it. And I think that’s what Neil felt too that’s why he pulled the plug on it. It just wasn’t, it wasn’t the Springfield. It didn’t have, it had some excess baggage that wasn’t, you know, it just didn’t, it didn’t work. I went to see them one night and, and my friend (former Byrd) Chris Hillman went to see them the next night and we both came away completely unimpressed. So it’s not a matter of, it’s not an automatic given if you put two people as talented…
DC: …as Stephen and Neil in a band it doesn’t automatically mean that it’s going to be fantastic. It still has to have a chemistry.
DC: And it didn’t have it.
4WS: Right. You, you, never got the call (to play with the Buffalo Springfield) since you made your guest appearance (with them) at Monterey Pop they didn’t? …
4WS: …Neil didn’t (call)? (laughs)
DC: No, those two guys (Stephen and Neil) can handle a band they don’t need me.
DC: And they have Richie. Richie is his own thing.
DC: Richie singing, you know, Kind Woman was the best part of that show. When they did that show, Richie singing Kind Woman was the high point for me. And they had, they have some fantastic shit. We do Bluebird in the set…
4WS: Oh, right.
DC: …over here tonight and it’s a killer. But we do it – better. (laughs)
4WS: Speaking of, of a name you’ve brought up several times, Joni, (do you have) any thoughts in your mind of getting on the phone you and/or Graham and saying, “Hey Joni, (we’d) like to bring you out and do a little tour of some small theatres…
DC: She doesn’t, she doesn’t play anymore.
DC: She doesn’t…
4WS: (You) couldn’t coax her out of retirement…
4WS: …not even a call from David Crosby?
DC: …No, she’s not, she’s really not interested. She’s, she thinks of herself as a painter and…
DC: …she’s a very good painter. But she doesn’t write or play or sing anymore. And I think it’s a total shame (be)cause I think she, when they look back in a hundred years they’ll go, “OK, it’s either Bob Dylan or Joni Mitchell who was the best singer-songwriter of our time, which one is it?” And, although they’re completely different I think she was as good a poet as Bob, just about, and, and a way better musician, I mean ten times as good a musician as Bob. I don’t think it’s any question it’s her. I think she was THE best singer-songwriter of the last 100 years. And I don’t think anybody’s come along to come anywhere close.
4WS: That’s high praise.
DC: I wish she would go out and work. I think if you’re given a gift that big, you have an obligation to use it. But, she doesn’t feel that way.
4WS: Well maybe if she sees this interview, she’ll…
DC: (deep laugh)…I doubt that she will.
4WS: (sadly) No. You’ve got something up on your website right now that’s intriguing: a couple solo of shows in Italy, in December. (December 9: Teatro del Giglio, Lucca; December 10, Teatro Sociale, Como)
4WS: Tell us about that. Tell us more. Give us the scoop.
4WS: You’re not only going to Italy…
4WS: …I’m guessing.
DC: …no, they offered me a thing, a very prestigious singer-songwriter award that they, that they give there in Italy that they gave to Joni actually, and she went there and accepted that award and played a f(ew), three or four songs. I’m going to do that. That puts me in Italy and my friend Adolfo Galli, who is a very good promoter there said, (David speaks in an Italian-American accent) “Well, if you’re going to be there…”
DC: And, I’ve been wanting to do some acoustic solo shows, just me and, and some guitars. And I haven’t done it in, I don’t know 25 years probably, and I thought it would challenge me, and, you know, make me, you know, have to come up with some stuff and I, I like that. So I’m going to do those then if it works and I like it, I’ll probably do more here.
4WS: I like that.
DC: I would too. It takes it down to the songs.
4WS: Yes it does.
DC: (Be)cause there’s nobody singing harmony, there’s nobody playing lead, there’s no, you know, keyboards, there’s no nothing. And, you either have a song or (laughs) you don’t have a song, and I, I have some songs.
4WS: Right. No, that, that kind of reminded me, one of the first solo tours I saw of you, maybe at the Oh Yes I Can (tour; 1989) you came through Chicago, played a small, it might have been The Park West, (it) might have (been) some other little small place but I remember, there was a band there but I remember you doing a lot of stuff on piano, doing Delta on piano just, just knocking it out and doing a lot of acoustic stuff so boy I hope, I hope that happens.
DC: Well it’s going to happen. (laughs) I told them I’d come.
4WS: Right, no, I mean in Italy and then in the United States…
4WS: …I hope that happens.
DC: If, if it’s comfortable and it feels good I’ll, I’ll do it, you know. It’s certainly no lack of songs. And, and looking, it’s pretty easy to put together a set. I’m, I’m kind of looking forward to it. We like going to Italy anyway. (turning to Django) What time is the, what time is, is the show?
Django: 7:30 show. Catering’s probably up already.
DC: Yeah, it’s 6:20 now.
DC: 5:20. Ahh, right. OK, yeah alright. So…
4WS: Am I wearing you down?
DC: No, but I need to go and eat.
4WS: OK. (Do you have time for a) Couple of quick questions?
4WS: Alright. The Mayan (his boat). Where’s that at now?
DC: I sold it.
4WS: You did sell it!
DC: (I ) Had to.
4WS: I remember seeing an ad in Rolling Stone saying: The Mayan’s for sale.
DC: It is, it was.
4WS: It was for sale…
DC: I found the right buyer.
4WS: …for quite some time.
4WS: And when did it get sold?
DC: Just a couple of months ago. Very painful. Not a happy thing at all.
DC: I had it for like 45 years.
DC: Sailed it all over, half of the world.
DC: Lived on it.
4WS: Wrote songs on it.
DC: Many. And I didn’t want to sell it but, you know, at a certain point you have to pretend you’re a grown up.
4WS: (laughs/then somberly states) Yeah, that is, that, that’s a heart-breaking thing. It’s like part of the family, you’re losing your, something very special to you.
DC: It’s not an easy thing for any of us, we all…
4WS: Two more questions. Motivation. What, what’s your next goal? What, what’s next on the horizon besides Italy? What, what are thinking about?
DC: (I’ve) Got a new song going that I like a lot…that’s musically fascinating, the tuning that Marcus showed me. And (it’s) got a, a pretty fascinating set of changes in it that I’m, I’m waiting to see what it’s going to be about. (David’s tone turns reflective) You know, I don’t (clears his throat), I try not to make too, too many plans and leave things open and see what’s coming, to me, you know. But, you know, at, at this stage of the game most people have quit…or died. And, you know, my friends tell me I’m still singing pretty well so, I think I’m probably going to, you know…
4WS: You’re voice is better now than it’s been in, in 20 years or more.
DC: Yeah (spoken doubtfully).
4WS: I don’t know, what’s your secret, what are you drinking there?
DC: Oh, that’s just tea. I, I, it’s a lot of stuff. I don’t drink and the lack of hard drugs in my life makes me, you know, a lot saner and a lot happier. And, and the muse keeps visiting me and bringing songs, you know, so I’m feeling pretty good about, you know, how things are right now. I don’t want to, you know, predict too far in the future because, you know, I’m an old guy so you don’t know what your future is…
DC: …when you get to this point.
4WS: Lastly: 4waysite. What do you think of 4WaySite?
DC: Well it’s great because it’s independent. That’s, that’s the probably the best thing about it. That’s not run by management. That’s not run by the record company. That’s, you know, a completely independent view of CSNY. And I think that’s a very healthy thing. Admittedly Dolf and…, you know, it’s a site that, that likes us but we don’t own it and we don’t control it and I think that’s a very healthy thing. Particularly I like that about it. They’ll take their own view and they’re not afraid to.
DC: And that’s good.
4WS: Is there anything that you can think of that, I say “we” not really being sitting next to Dolf, but is there anything that “we” as 4waysite can do to, to help you?
DC: No, 4waysite, you know…(you can) Encourage dialog with people who love the music. Get, you know, get feedback from, from the world and, and, and put it up there so that people can talk, you know, back and forth about this stuff and discuss it and, and let us, you know, reap the results (be)cause that kind of feedback, it’s precious, man. You can’t buy it. I think it’s, probably the best thing I like about it is that it’s not ours. It’s independent and has it’s own view. I think that’s a very good thing. Almost nobody has one of those. There are fan sites for other bands, you know…
DC: …(but they are) rarely that good.
4WS: Well I’m hoping that this is not the first and last interview that I’m able to conduct with you and I’ll try to do the same with Mr. Nash, Mr. Stills, (and) Mr. Young at some point. I’ve had the good fortune to do some talking with some of the other former people that you’ve worked with from (CSNY’s second drummer) Johny Barbata to…
DC: There’s a guy!
4WS: Yeah, he is a (laughs), he’s a good guy. Dallas, (CSNY’s first drummer) Dallas Taylor.
DC: Not such a good guy.
DC: Well, that’s ok with me.
4WS: That’s ok?
DC: After we (CSNY) did a benefit to help him get his, his liver transplant…
4WS: Yes, sir.
DC: …that’s when he sued us.
4WS: Oh…(laughing and shaking my head)…Then I won’t mention (CSNY’s first bass player) Greg Reeves either. I haven’t talked to him but, but I know he…
DC: (completely stunned) Is Greg ALIVE?
4WS: He IS alive.
DC: (sounding desperate to know) Where?
4WS: He, he, there’s a recent interview on 4waysite. (SUGGESTION: INSERT LINK TO THE GREG REEVES INTERVIEW HERE) He’s in California. (QUESTION: IS CALIFORNIA CORRECT?) I don’t know where. Never spoke to him myself but I was recently involved in, he, he was trying to clarify some answer about, you mentioned litigation, he, he gave an answer to Dolf I don’t know how many, maybe a year ago…
DC: I never heard of him doing any litigation, but Dallas, yeah. Dallas is on my shit list…
DC:…and will stay there. I went, I…Man, I got Neil Young to do a benefit for Dallas, ok.
4WS: Yes, I’m aware of that, yeah.
DC: I got Don Henley to play that benefit.
DC: I got Chris Hillman to play that benefit with (the) Desert Rose (band). And my thanks was that Dallas then turned around and sued us (CSNY). Ok? So Dallas…fuck Dallas!
4WS: (laughs) You’re a man of few words.
DC: (laughs) Well…
4WS: You’re right to the point.
DC: …you know what else would I say?
DC: You know, it’s hard to get to get those guys to do a benefit for somebody.
4WS: Right, right.
DC: Particularly a drummer that they didn’t particularly like a whole lot…
DC: …which in Neil’s case was the case.
DC: And, you know, if they turn around and fuck you, fuck them.
DC: I, I got no, no bones about it. I don’t like the guy. [Editor’s note: In November of 1989, Dallas Taylor was diagnosed with a cirrhotic liver and was told he would need a transplant within a year or else he would not survive. He was added to the list of 900 individuals waiting for an organ donation. A concert in honor of Dallas Taylor in support of the Freda Foundation and organ donor awareness was held on March 31, 1990, at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. The headlining act was CSNY.]
4WS: Yeah. How about Calvin…
DC: (mood turning to joy) Oh, Fuzzy?
4WS: …Fuzzy Samuel?
DC: Oh, he was joy! He was great player. Good spirit, great player.
4WS: Tell me more and let me tell you the reason why. I struck up a friendship with him.
DC: He’s a, he’s a good guy. I have fond memories of him.
4WS: He plays the bouzouki. (A Greek long-necked stringed musical instrument similar to a mandolin) He’d make a great opening act for you.
DC: (chuckles) Hah, we (thinking the reference was to CSN) don’t need an opening act.
4WS: No, on your solo one (tour).
DC: Nah…I don’t need one either.
4WS: Your life’s work (David’s Voyage box set) brought me down from Chicago all the way to Evansville…
DC: Well, Evansville’s…
4WS: …in the car.
DC: …not exactly a wonderful place. (laughs)
4WS: (laughs) Thank you, sir.
DC: Thanks, man. Thanks for doing your homework. That was cool!
4WS: Thank you very much.
DC: (I) appreciate it, man. (We shake hands and David leaves.)
4WS: Thank you. (Have a) great show. Looking forward to it.
DC: Thank’s man.
Django: See you later.