Full disclosure, I hate David Crosby. I’ve had a few run-ins with him over the years (one incident I wrote about called in a story called “David Crosby Flipped me the Byrd”, which he ended up having his picture taken, smiling, holding up the story). Over the years, I met a DJ, limo driver, pilot, and musicians, that have all said he was one of the most horrible people they had ever met. I was at a Perry Ferrell (Jane’s Addiction) concert where a random fan behind me started talking about meeting Crosby and how mean he was. So I wasn’t surprised in the movie when he talks about himself being an asshole, and how he has no friends, and that everyone he ever made music with wants nothing to do with him. And if he can make Graham Nash, one of the nicest guys in music, dislike you…you’re doing something wrong.
You know who else did something wrong? First time director A.J. Eaton and producer Cameron Crowe, who I expect more from when it comes to movies, and pieces on musicians.
I figured it would be hard to beat the recent music documentary Echo in the Canyon, which was terrific (side note: Jakob Dylan told me these guys tried to make things tough for him when he was trying to get his film made).
The documentary did a decent job showing us Crosby’s time in The Byrds before being kicked out. It was a kick to see the animated way they showed that story and another.
You’ll witness just how unhinged he was even back then, once stopping in the middle of a song to rant about how our country killed JFK.
Imagine being kicked out of a successful band, and thinking you might never be that big again — and putting together the super-group Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (side note: Crosby incorrectly says it was the first American super-group, but Nash is from the U.K. and Neil Young is from Canada).
Crosby does get the fact correct, that he didn’t write a single hit for CSN. He doesn’t have to feel too bad, since he co-wrote Eight Miles High, and did give us the good tunes Guinnevere, Almost Cut My Hair (I really wish he would already, it looks disgusting), and my favorite ditty of his — Wooden Ships (the movie 1969 uses it perfectly). And speaking of ships, it’s fun to hear that Peter Tork (The Monkees) gave him $25,000 to buy a sailboat when he was broke.
You get a few fun facts in this. I never knew his dad was a cinematographer on films like High Noon. And like Elton John, apparently his dad didn’t hug him, either.
Why did we not hear a single thing about his kids? One of them co-wrote the song “Morrison” about Jim Morrison. Instead, we just hear his constant hatred of Morrison.
We don’t hear about son James Raymond, who he didn’t even meet until the mid-90s. Raymond was an accomplished jazz pianist, and ended up becoming his musical director and keyboardist. We don’t hear about Melissa Ethridge asking Crosby to be a sperm donor for the child she had with her wife. And here’s the most bizarre fun fact you’ll get today — Ethridge turned down Brad Pitt’s offer, and instead went with the crazy genes of David Crosby.
I never realized that when CSN played Woodstock, it was only the second time they had played a show live, and they were nervous.
It’s also strange to think that, if they’re going to cover his stint in jail and not shy away from his drug abuse (and him admitting he got a number of women hooked on junk)…why didn’t they talk about the fact that he got a liver transplant when many were upset that he had ruined his by drug use. He shouldn’t even be on a list when there are others waiting for an organ that didn’t take drugs. Not to mention the fact that after getting the liver, he continued to use drugs.
Yet the filmmakers think we should have sympathy for him because he’s a music legend. He somberly tells us he has eight stents in his heart, and has had two heart attacks and another will kill him; or that he could die from his diabetes. And, he wants us to feel horrible that he’s going on the road (for a mere 6 week tour), because he loves his family so much. He even says, “Time is our only currency.” Okay, well…then why isn’t he spending that time with his wife, horses, and dogs?
I might’ve had a little sympathy when he spoke about his girlfriend Christine Hinton dying in a car accident in 1969, but…we had already heard him talk about the hundreds of women he had slept with, and cheating on Joni Mitchell (who broke up with him in a way only singer/songwriters can). One of his girlfriends died from a drug overdose, and he admits to getting her hooked.
Henry Diltz, who has taken photos of over 200 album covers (including former San Diego music legend Steve Poltz), was fun to see on screen. He and Crosby shared a few memories. I was just surprised at how he butchered the story on taking the cover photo for CSN’s first album. Diltz told me in an interview for the Reader years ago, that they liked the photo in front of an abandoned house with a couch on the porch, the best. But they were sitting in the order of Crosby, Nash, and Stills. When they went back the next day to retake the photo, they couldn’t find the house. That’s because it was demolished and no longer there. They still used the photo, but people often got the names of Nash and Stills mixed up because each was sitting below the other’s name as written on the album cover.
In all these interviews, Crosby just comes across as an idiot. The smartest thing he said was, “I have a big ego, and no brains.”
He blew all the millions he made (and I’m guessing never paid Tork back for the boat). Yet if this film would’ve asked the tough questions, it might have been something interesting. Instead, this was rather boring.
1 ½ stars out of 5. See Echo in the Canyon instead.