David Crosby knows that a solo tour isn't his best career move from a business perspective, but he's hitting the road anyway this January to support his upcoming LP Croz. "I'm not going to make any money from this tour," he says. "Not a dime. Busses are hideously expensive, so instead I'm going to do short residences in five cities, staying in each place for a few days where we can work in fine brush strokes and try to do nuances and the best work we can possibly do."
The show will begin with a complete performance of Croz and after an intermission he'll delve his his deep catalog, though he's a little unsure about reviving any Byrds songs. "That's reaching pretty far back," he says. "I won't do that unless there's a song that really thrills us, and there's a couple [Byrds songs] that might work. It's really about the song. It's not about trying to evenly distribute it all through my career or anything like that. We wanna do stuff that excites us."
Material from the Crosby, Stills, Nash (and sometimes Young) catalog will definitely make the final cut. "We're gonna veer towards stuff like 'Long Time Gone' and 'Deja Vu,'" he says. "I can see us taking 'Deja Vu' and really stretching it out. That would really suit this band. I just want to make it a little longer and more complex. People expect me to play 'Almost Cut My Hair,' and so I'm not gonna play it."
Crosby is most excited about reviving songs from his 1971 LP If I Could Only Remember My Name, his most beloved solo work which featured contributions from Jerry Garcia, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Grace Slick and many others. "I'm very tempted to play 'Laughing,' 'Tamalpais High,' 'Cowboy Movie' and 'Music Is Love,'" he says. "Some things on that record are pretty un-performable, like the ending song ['I'd Swear There Was Somebody Here']. I don't imagine anybody can perform that, least of all me."
He'll be backed by the same band that worked with him on Croz, including drummer Steve DiStanislao, guitarist Shane Fontayne, guitarist Marcus Eaton, bassist Kevin McCormick and his son James Raymond on keyboards. "Marcus helped us write at least two of the tunes and played most of the acoustic guitar on this record," says Crosby. "He has this eerie capability of sounding exactly like me."
The tour wraps up February 25th, 2014 after a three-night stand at the Troubadour in Los Angeles, and Crosby's plans beyond that are unclear. "I don't know what's going to happen with my summer," he says. "It will either by CSN or, and I hesitate to even say it, but the Bridge School Benefit went well the other week, so possibly CSNY. But that's a complete unknown quantity until I hear something from Neil."
Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young played their first gig since 2006 at the Bridge School Benefit in late October. Did Young bring up the possibility of a tour at any point? "No," says Crosby. "He was, as usual, concentrating on the music. But you know Neil, he's got his antennas up. He is paying attention. He may not look like it, but he is. The shows felt really good, so that bodes well. We have no idea though. I stress that. I repeat that. We have no idea."
The quartet performed Neil Young's new song "A Singer Without a Song" as well as at the new Stephen Stills composition "Don't Want Lies" at the show. "It made me really happy," says Crosby. "I love Neil's new song. I thought it was beautiful. Graham [Nash] has a new song he wrote with my son James called "Burning for the Buddha" that's so much fun to do onstage. There's life in this. A person's work is the window into their soul. If you see new work, quality work, coming out of us, then we are not dead."
One might think that Neil Young will have to determine whether or not he wants to do a CSNY tour next year sometime within the next few months so organizers have time to book it. "That's sensible and logical," says Crosby. "But that doesn't always apply with Neil. It would be nice to know sometime soon, but I can't torture myself about it . . . I would dearly love for it to happen, but it's not up to me. I'm not in charge. I do think there is more music to be made, really good music. I love it when it's just the four of us onstage with acoustic guitars, a piano and a pump organ. That's because it becomes all about the songs. It really strips it all down."
Whether or not CSNY hits the road next year, Crosby is convinced that the long-awaited box set from their 1974 reunion tour will finally come out. "It should come out in March or April, something like that," he says. "It got pushed back for good reason. We're gonna put a DVD with it. We have pieces from about eight separate shows." There is a complete film of their tour-closing marathon show at London's Wembley Stadium, but don't expect that to make it onto the package. "Nope," says Crosby. "We were a little too jittery that night."