David Crosby Answers Your Questions About Playing Guitar, Diabetes – Rolling Stone
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David Crosby Answers Your Questions About Learning to Play Guitar, Living With Diabetes and More

Rolling Stone’s new advice columnist faces the tough issues with wit, wisdom, and candor

David Crosby

Anna Webber

David Crosby has spent the past few weeks promoting his excellent new documentary David Crosby: Remember My Name, touring the country with his solo band and trying to talk Roger McGuinn into a Byrds reunion via Twitter. He also found the time to sit down for another Ask Croz session where he answered your questions. Check out the below for his responses about learning to play guitar, living with diabetes trying to make it in the industry and more.

If you have your own questions for Croz, tweet them out with the hashtag #AskCroz or send an e-mail to askcroz@rollingtone.com. Just please stick to genuine life advice questions.

I’m a 63-year-old grandmother who is very worried about the future of our country in light of the current administration. How can I stay hopeful?
— Patti, via the internet

Take a handful of sleeping pills every 15 minutes. The country is in a lot of trouble. Our democracy is in a lot of trouble. The President is like an infant, a really nasty infant. I think you’re right to be worried. I think we’re in a lot of trouble. Our situation in the world is in a lot of trouble.

The worst of it is not the damage that this is doing to our democracy or our traditions. It’s that by denying global warming, he’s causing us to do harm to every human being on the planet. That’s what’s known as bad karma. That’s not a good thing. We should be the leaders in fighting global warming. We should be leading that fight. And their denial because they don’t even understand it, let alone their denial because it’s not profitable for them personally, is a sin. It’s really a bad thing.

I am inspired by human beings though. When a human being is really good, they can make me have hope. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez inspires me. Mayor Pete [Buttigieg] does too. Every time I hear the guy talk I get hopeful. Human beings can make it better. The situation as it stands now is because of things that are broken, not because of things that work.

I do know my grandchildren are pissed. They feel like they’re being handed a broken world and a broken democracy. And we’re saying, “You kids are going to have to fix this,” which is a crap way to hand them their life. They know that and they are pissed off at us because we should have dealt with this already.

Any tips for a 64-year-old learning to play guitar? I started ­lessons 10 months ago and never dreamed it would be so hard. Any advice or avenues of learning would be greatly appreciated!
—Debbi, via the internet

First of all, you have to get callouses because it hurts. After you get them, the way to do it if you really want to be good is you have to put in 10,000 hours. I don’t know if you’ve heard about the 10,000 hour thing, but there is no shortcut to learning to play the guitar, not well. If you have hopes of playing the guitar well, you’re going to have to play it a lot for a long time. That’s how you get good. That’s the only way to get good.

You can’t go to school for it. Nobody can teach it to you. Lessons don’t do it. Practice doesn’t do it. What does it, if you want to know the secret code, you have to smoke a joint. Then you play until your fingers hurt because you get hung up. Then you can do it. But you have to get hung up for a long time. 64 isn’t too old. I learned new stuff in my late 50s and early 60s. You can learn. We aren’t dead. We’re just creepy looking.

I’m a 17-year-old, and it’s my dream to work in the show-business industry as a musician or film director. Should I pick a profession that is a bit easier to get into? I’m very lost.
—Hannah, Nowra, Australia

Oh golly. Well, Hannah, I would love to tell you some nice convenient lies. But you’re right. Show business is hard and it’s gotten a lot harder. Streaming has made it immensely much harder for anyone to get started in show business because you can’t make any money off records. Period. They pay you roughly as if you worked for a month and you got a nickel. The only money you can make until you’re a gigantic star is live performing, selling tickets, asses on seats as we say. That makes it very tough.

I get asked this question all the time and I say, “Don’t do it unless you can’t stand it, unless you really can’t help it. If you are compelled to sing or write or play, then I guess do it. It would be good for your heart, but understand its an insanely difficult thing to make a living at now.” I think its headed for a thing like what you saw in the middle ages. There’s going to be sponsors/patrons who make it possible for art to be created. “You’re really talented, I’m going to pay for you to make me a record.” That’s probably going to happen.

But I can’t lie to you and say its easy. I’ll tell you this: I do it because its the most fun I know how to have. When I’m singing, and I never sing anything exactly the same, it’s kind of like having my own rocket ship. I can go anywhere with it. It’s worth it. I love it. If that’s you, go ahead and do it. But don’t have an illusion that it’s going to be easy. It isn’t.

Hi Dave. Long time fan. I just got diagnosed with diabetes and I have trouble with what to eat. What do you eat daily? Need help.
Tim Moore, Michigan

I can explain it to you. I am diabetic. I have been for about 40 years. I will explain the whole thing to you. Now, people do these complex diets where you can only eat the third grape and other nonsense. But you eat it, you burn it. What you don’t burn, you wear. It’s that simple.

Now when you start out [in life], you’re burning like crazy since you’re young and you’re just starting out and you’re also building a new body. It takes lots of juice. So then you get old and you’re not burning anywhere near as much, but you’re still eating the same amount, which means you get fat. Simple. So you have to cut down on what you eat.

My doctor said to me, “Crosby, you have to do better.” I said, “I’m trying doc.” He said, “Eat less food!” I said, “Oh, thanks Doc, that clears it right up for me.” He said, “I’m not kidding!” Well it turns out the grumpy old guy was right. You eventually get full when you eat, but your stomach doesn’t tell you for another 20 minutes. There’s a delay before its tells you that you’re full. You kept eating because it tasted good, but you didn’t need that food. You just ate food you’re going to wear.

What I did was cut my portions in half. In America, they give you too much food in a portion in a restaurant. It’s food for two people. I cut it in half and I only eat that. I went from 240 to 180 and I’ve stayed there for three years. I haven’t been more than three pounds on either side of 180 for three years, so I think I did the right thing.

With Diabetes, your goal is to have a hemoglobin a1C of under 7. I’ve been there for three years. The weight thing is central critical to diabetes. That’s why people are going type 2 diabetic all over the country now. It’s just because they are eating crap food largely because all of the packaged foods, all of them, every cereal they make, is full of high fructose corn syrup. Bad. The worst kind of sugar. And they put it in all the packaged foods, all of the bread. It’s bad for you. It’s crap. But they also are just feeding you too much food. The portions are too big. The Western Europeans have got it right. You shouldn’t be eating more than what you can fit in your hand.

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