‘David Crosby: Remember My Name’ Doc: He Looks Back Without Anger – Rolling Stone
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David Crosby on Looking Back Without Anger in New Doc

The CSNY singer on opening up about love, music and regrets in the Cameron Crowe-produced portrait ‘David Crosby: Remember My Name’

The lion in winter: David Crosby, in a scene from the new documentary 'David Crosby: Remember My Name.'

Edd Lukas and Ian Coad/Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

Near the end of the new documentary, David Crosby: Remember My Name, the 77-year-old singer looks directly into the camera and makes a startling admission. “I still have friends,” he says. “But all the guys that I made music with won’t even talk to me — all of them. All of them. One of them hating my guts could be an accident. But [Roger] McGuinn, [Graham] Nash, Neil [Young] and Stephen [Stills] all really dislike me, strongly. I don’t know quite how to undo it.”

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It’s one of many devastatingly honest moments in the film, which traces Crosby’s life story — from growing up the son of an Academy Award-winning cinematographer and his days in the Byrds and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young to the 1982 cocaine bust that sent him to a Texas prison, his numerous financial struggles and current creative renaissance. Along the way, the musician talks about his many regrets when it comes to the way he treated his girlfriends, his bandmates and his own body. “The way they do most documentaries these days is fucking bullshit,” Crosby says. “People make documentaries that are just shine jobs. I wanted to be honest.”

The film was directed by A.J. Eaton, but Cameron Crowe, who produced it, was a crucial behind-the-scenes force. Crosby points out that they’ve been friends since Crowe’s days as a teenage Rolling Stone reporter: “I knew him when he was the kid in Almost Famous and we or Led Zeppelin were the band,” he says. “Both of us stuck joints in his mouth and introduced him to girls, and that was that.”

They stayed close even as Crosby’s life took some difficult turns. “I have seen him so exhausted or strung out in the Seventies or Eighties that I often thought it would be the last time I’d ever see him,” Crowe says. “Because we’d done so many interviews in the past, we were able to get past the niceties and get down to the toughest questions. For example, his take on the myth of Laurel Canyon is bracing and tough — the stuff that gets said when the tourists are gone and the cameras get turned off. Except ours stayed on.”

McGuinn agreed to a new interview for the movie, but Young, Stills and Nash don’t appear. Instead, we see archival footage of them explaining CSNY’s bitter breakup and why they haven’t spoken to Crosby in years. “Some of those burned bridges in Crosby’s life are still fresh and smoking,” says Crowe. “He had a lot to say to them, and it’s all in the movie. I often thought that this was Crosby’s version of Neil Young’s own look back from Harvest Moon, ‘One of These Days.'”

He continues: “What A.J. Eaton and I didn’t want to do is try to stage some kind of reunion, failed or successful. The movie is made for you to decide what will happen next. What will Neil Young think when he sees it? Graham Nash is particularly emotional in his recent footage. So often documentaries try to whip up a camera-friendly conclusion. We didn’t, and one wasn’t available to us either. It’s kind of what the movie is about.”

Crosby has little hope that CSNY will ever re-form, but he hopes this film will help correct the historical record. “All these guys I used to work with are saying I’m just impossible and unreasonable,” he says. “They are doing their level best to paint a picture of me that is pretty bad. Hopefully this will paint a picture that’s more honest. I just hope they see it.”

 

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