January 28, 2023

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David Crosby’s Best Tracks: Essential Birds, CSNY and Singles

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Beyond all that David Crosby did or did in his lifetime, the thing he will be most remembered for after his death at age 81 is that he had a wounded and haunting angelic voice – whether singing alone or when paired with the Byrds, Friends and rivals of Crosby, Stiles and Nash or Crosby, Stiles, Nash and Young. and that his deftly romantic, experimental songwriting and virtuosity drove the country, folk-rock movement of the 1960s and 1970s.

Crosby’s work was, in the words of his longtime singing partner, Graham Nash, “fearless…he spoke his mind, his heart and his emotions through his beautiful music.” Even if he was singing words and melodies written by Bob Dylan or with Roger McGuinn and Graham Nash, the ethereal intensity, slippery jazz influences and alternative tunings were all Crosby.

Here are 10 of Crosby’s best, most angelic musical moments of a long and storied career

The Birds, “All I Want to Do” (1965)
Roger McGuinn may have created the Byrds’ ringing signature 12-string guitar sound, but it was David Crosby’s uniquely brooding vocal phrasing and full-blooded harmonies that took the band beyond mere Bob Dylan copyists in their early days. Crosby got his first shot at the limelight when he took the lead on the bridge to Byrd’s second single, Dylan’s “All I Really Want to Do,” and has never been out of the limelight.

The Birds, “Everybody’s Been Burned” (1966)
Thoughtfully jagged, breezy jazzy and slowly soulful, this ominous, Crosby-penned ballad sounds more like the alternative tunings of the Velvet Underground than its sunny bandmates. This is Crosby in his most majestic mood.

The Birds, “Lady Friend” (1967)
The rambling jangle, off-kilter rhythm, shrill brass section and warm, complex melody of “Lady Friend” are all highlights of Crosby’s self-penned mini-epic. Get beyond the song’s oddly seductive tangle and its deliriously loving “can’t live without her,” and you’ll find that it’s Crosby’s solo vocals that fill the track as he replaces Chris Hillman and Roger McGuinn’s backing vocals with his own vocal overdubs. , much to the chagrin of the rest of the Byrds.


Jefferson Airplane, “Triad” (1968)
Pop’s first great paean to the ménage à trois, a tale of free love and science fiction, was initially recorded by the Byrds (but not released during Crosby’s time there), and eventually released by CSNY on 1971’s “4 Way Street”. But it was a great and funky-sounding Grace slick and a slow Jefferson plane that made the Crosby-penned “Triad” truly trippy and beautiful.

Crosby, Stiles and Nash, “Guinevere” (1969)
Lingering against the gentle pluck of an acoustic guitar, the old, folksy, Crosby-penned love song for the three objects of his queenly affections has unusual time signatures (a motif inspired by Miles Davis’ “Sketch of Spain”), a nod to Joni Mitchell, and grandly divine sonic and mental twist Crosby once called it his best song. He may be right.

Crosby, Stiles, Nash & Young, “Almost Cut My Hair” (1970)
From the 1970 album “Deja Vu,” Crosby lowers his octaves, letting the raw soul of his voice come through, and the freedom to nestle against Young and Stills’ nervous cross-cutting guitars and Nash’s organ whirr to tell Tonsoria’s story better now than you can remember. , “Almost Cut My Hair” is thick, rich anthemic rock at its best.

Crosby, Stiles, Nash & Young, “Deja Vu” (1970)
From his scat-singing intro to the original melody to his every lyrical and melodic wander, “Deja Vu” is Crosby’s bluesy, hippie dream.

David Crosby, “The Cowboy Movie” (1971)
Taken from his debut solo album, “If I Could Only Remember My Name…,” Crosby’s wobbly, stoner travelogue and macho jazzy vocals are a deep listen, on par with Dennis Hopper’s “Easy Rider.”

Crosby & Nash, “Whole Cloth” (1972)
Playing on the open narrative of his previous solo work, Crosby took time from his partnership with Nash, “Graham Nash David Crosby,” to debut album “White Cloth.” In addition to featuring one of his most emotional, soaring vocal performances, the backing of guitarist Danny Korchmer, electric pianist Craig Dwarz and bassist Leland Scholar of Steely Dan proved to be one of Crosby’s most sympathetic and soulful ensembles.


Crosby, Stiles and Nash, “Shadow Captain” (1977)

Crosby, co-written with Craig Doerge, ages like fine wine from this 1977 reunion with his vocalists’ handsome harmonies – all over rolling congas, pastoral piano and allegory of lost horizons and lost opportunities.

“Hero” by David Crosby and Phil Collins (1993)
Before teaming up with the Genesis singer for the 1993 track “Hero,” Crosby had already performed stellar backing vocal duties for Phil Collins on a couple of the latter’s hits, “It’s Just the Way It Is” and “Another Day in Paradise.” Produced and co-written by Collins for Crosby’s third solo album “Thousand Roads,” the jangly ballad is a beautiful slice of early ’90s synth-soul.

David Crosby, “River Rise” (2021)
Crosby’s voice is softer, rounder and more narrow than in his youth, but his melodies and moods are as evocative, commanding and poignant as in his past, and still haunting and soulful in keeping with Michael MacDonald.

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