One of rock ’n’ roll’s most iconic figures, David Crosby, is the subject of the new Cameron Crowe produced documentary “Remember My Name.” His glory days may be behind him, but the singer-songwriter who made history with The Byrds; Crosby, Stills & Nash; and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young is still writing songs and performing at the age of 77.
The musician’s highs and lows are covered by director A.J. Eaton as Crosby speaks candidly about his past, taking full responsibility for his actions. He may not be on speaking terms with many of his past friends and collaborators, but Crosby puts himself out there and so maybe the film will serve as closure to those closest to the legendary rock star.
Whether he’s sharing a behind-the-scenes story about CSNY or discussing his turbulent personal life, “I was not easy, big ego, no brains,” the two-time Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee is mesmerizing to watch. The scraggly-haired icon with the signature walrus ’stache comes across as sincere when he talks about being selfish and his struggle with heroin. “Feels great only the first time. After that, you’re just trying to catch it, and you never get back there,” he said. He also talked about severed relationships with former bandmates and the women from his past, including ex Joni Mitchell, who broke up with Crosby via the song “That Song About the Midway.”
Crosby became a man shaped by his childhood and tragedies early in his life. His father, Floyd Crosby, a respected cinematographer who shot “High Noon,” never uttered the words “I love you.” Then in 1969, Crosby’s girlfriend, Christine Hinton, was killed in an auto accident.
“There was just this emptiness,” the singer explains, “gone, you know like a rip in the fabric.”
He turned to alcohol and hard drugs, and in 1983, he was sentenced to five years in prison for possessing a handgun and freebasing cocaine in a Dallas nightclub. Once again, Crosby takes full responsibility for his actions and credits the prison time as a move that saved his life.
“Remember My Name” is an important rock-doc and a must for fans as it chronicles an important part of music history. In one scene, Crosby revisits the Laurel Canyon area, once home to musicians Frank Zappa, Jim Morrison, The Mamas & The Papas, Carole King, Buffalo Springfield, Neil Young and countless others, to point out the house where CSN first sang together, which also inspired the song “Our House.” Clips of live performances and photos through the years are interspersed with interviews of Stills, Nash and Young who discuss the breakup of the band in archival footage. None of them would take part in the doc, but there is a new interview with Roger McGuinn of the Byrds.
Crosby is a survivor in more ways than one. He is 77 years old, has had three heart attacks and has eight stints in his heart. His saving grace is Jan Dance, his wife of 32 years who shares his Santa Ynez Valley home in California with son, Django. The two have a beautiful relationship, which comes across in the doc as one built on honesty with no expectations. In one scene, Jan describes how each time “Croz” leaves for a tour, she ponders if that is the last time she’ll ever see him.
Over the last few years, Crosby has made four solo albums as he experienced a resurgence in his career. His collaboration with younger, unknown musicians has resulted in wonderful songs and a new tour that stretches from New York through Colorado throughout the next couple of months.
“Remember My Name” is one of the best music documentaries ever made, with Crowe once again asking the questions 44 years after he first interviewed Crosby at the age of 18 for Rolling Stone magazine.
For the younger generation not familiar with Crosby, repeat after me: “Alexa, play Crosby, Stills, & Nash greatest hits.” You can’t beat those three-part harmonies.