No one is more surprised to be alive at 72 than David Crosby, who has survived diabetes, hepatitis C, a liver transplant and severe addictions to drugs and alcohol. “If there’s a way to go wrong possible, I did,” he says. “I could have ea-si-ly died at so many points in my past. It happened to my friends – Jimi, Janis, Cass. Sometimes I wonder, ‘Why me?’ I made all the same mistakes everyone else made, and yet all these people that I loved and had immense talent are gone. I tried writing down a list of all them recently, but it was so discouraging that I had to stop.”
Over the past few months, Croz has focused on a more uplifting project: his first solo album since 1993’s Thousand Roads. “Nobody really makes a true solo album,” he says. “This one involves my son James quite a bit. He co-produced it, sang on it, arranged and wrote the songs with me. My friend Marcus Eaton also plays guitar and sings a lot of harmonies on it. It’s different than anything I’ve ever done. I’ve always wanted to hear the band instrumentals in the same kind of place where I wanted the vocals. I wanted to make something experimental and out there, and this time I got it. I think I’m going to call it Dangerous Night.”
When not recording, Crosby spent much of his time this year on the road with Crosby, Stills and Nash. The group has been working for years on a Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young live album drawn from eight shows on their famously debauched 1974 reunion tour. In April, Graham Nash told Rolling Stone it was coming out on August 27th, but soon after that it got delayed yet again.
“We had a different opinion of what standards the audio comes to,” explains Crosby. “Neil, of course, was demanding that 96 wasn’t good enough and we had to go up to 192. And so we did. I mean, if you’re making a record with four people, you have to take them all into account. Neil has been on this crusade every since Apple did the MP3 for iTunes. He wanted to have Steve Jobs shot. He hates MP3. You can’t even say the word ‘MP3’ in front of him. Steam will come out of his ears. He’s a bit of a nut about it, but I get where he’s coming from.”
There’s no release date for the album yet, but Crosby hopes it’ll finally hit shelves sometime later this year or (more likely) in 2014. “If you’re listening to those tapes, you would think that we were really, for a moment, the best band in the world,” he says. The stadium tour was dubbed the “doom” tour by the band, and tales of their drug use on the road have become legendary. Despite that, Crosby swears the tapes reveal they still put on an amazing show. “The only reason the tour wasn’t great is because we were ripped off,” he says. “The tour made, like, $12 million and we each got less than a half of a million.”
The album isn’t titled yet, but Crosby is pushing hard for them to call it What Could Possibly Go Wrong? “How could anyone resist calling it that?” he says. “It’s fucking funny. You can’t say it without getting a smile on your face. If you know us, know the history, know the whole deal, it’s impossible to not crack up at that title.”
Still, he has to get the other members of the group to agree. “I can think of at least one person where that won’t be a problem,” he says. “And I can think of a couple of people where that might be a problem.” One presumes he means Nash will go for it and Stills and Young won’t, but he refuses to clarify the point. “But I think it’s hysterically funny. It shows we have a sense of humor about ourselves . . . It’s pretty much done right now, but I figured out a long time ago I’m not the one in charge.”
Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young haven’t toured since their politically charged Freedom of Speech tour in 2006. Might they hit the road sometime in the near future? “God, I sure wish we were,” says Crosby. “I love working with Neil. He really does push the envelope. He makes fantastic music. I feel really good working with him. We’re an interesting bunch because we have such a wide palette of colors. All four of us are really good writers and, more importantly, completely different from each other. It gives you a palette to work with that’s incredible. Between us we got 900 songs . . . But as far as another tour, I don’t know. You know who it’s up to.”
A future CSNY tour doesn’t seem completely out of the question, especially now that Crazy Horse guitarist Frank “Poncho” Sampedro’s hand injury prematurely ended Neil Young’s world tour. As of right now, he has nothing on his calendar besides Farm Aid and the Bridge School Benefit.
“I just talked to Neil yesterday,” says Crosby. “He feels real bad for Poncho . . . I have so much respect for Neil because he always follows his muse. It’s often counter to what I want, because I want to work with him. But I also want him to follow his muse. I want him playing music that excites him right that minute. And if that includes me, that’s wonderful. If it doesn’t, that’s wonderful too. He’s still making great music and still tries to push the envelope. Sometimes he succeeds, sometimes he makes Trans.”