David Crosby was a stalwart of two influential bands in the 1960s – the Byrds, and Crosby Stills & Nash (with and without Young). He was renowned for contributing some wonderful vocal harmonies, and though he was not a prolific songwriter, he still contributed some tracks to many albums, becoming more adept at songwriting as he grew older, penning whole albums with various co-writers. But it was his voice that was so wonderful.
He was also known to my friends for his amazing moustache. That is some amazing facial hair!
Unfortunately, he did become known for some drug and alcohol problems, some major surgeries and some strange political views that cropped up at various points. But he was also the father of Melissa Etheridge's two children with her partner Julie Cypher, and he had 4 other children, including James Raymond who performed with his father later in David's career. And he and his CSNY bandmates made headlines recently by withdrawing their music from Spotify, standing by their principles. In my opinion – good for them. They put their money where their mouths are. More should do that.
There was a lot of tragedy in David's life, but he seemed to be one of those people who battled through, a strong spirit residing within him. I am not going to detail any of that here, but he went through so much.
To commemorate the man, here are a dozen of my favourites of his work. I have not heard a great deal of his solo stuff, so this is focused more on the bands he was with.
'All I Really Want To Do' by The Byrds (1965)
From early in the Byrds' career (their second album, I think), this is a fantastic example of the vocal harmonies that made the band resonate with so many. This is a fine way to be introduced to them.
'Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is A Season)' by The Byrds (1965)
A song based on the Book of Ecclesiastes (seriously; it's mentioned as a writer!), written or put together or however they describe it by Pete Seeger, the Byrds turned it into one of the most stunning secular-religious songs ever recorded.
'Eight Miles High' by The Byrds (1966)
The Byrds going slightly psychedelic, this is a track that was banned because of the word "high", despite the fact it was about the new world of satellites. Still, what a song – those vocals again. Amazing.
'So You Want To Be A Rock 'n' Roll Star' by The Byrds (1967)
This is my favourite Byrdsntrack, which is why I had to include it here. A song about how bad the music industry is, especially with the rise of The Monkees, this is vitriol put forth so sweetly.
'Suite: Judy Blue Eyes' by Crosby, Stills & Nash (1969)
My first introduction to this song was a live version from one of the big concerts at the end of the 1960s (I want to say the Woodstock soundtrack, but am not sure), and it always stuck with me. Some amazing lyrics and quite long, these three knew how to sing together.
'Teach Your Children' by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (1970)
Graham Nash write this song when he was a member of The Hollies, but it was first recorded by CSNY on the quartet's debut album. I say that, but it seems Young did not appear on it, so it could just be a CSN track. Maybe seen as a little twee nowadays, the message is still important.
'Our House' by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (1970)
I have never been sure if this is genuine or sarcastic, but I do love the song and how well their voices mesh. These four just worked so well in sync.
'War Games' by Crosby, Stills & Nash (1983)
I only know this song because I saw the film at the cinema, and then when VHS became popular, saw it again on home video. They really adopted the 1980s aesthetic, and I just always liked it.
'American Dream' by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (1988)
This song, about the way people in power abuse the so-called American Dream, encouraged me to buy this album, which was a shame because, in general, the album itself was not great. But this, the title track, is still a decent song.
'Hero' by David Crosby (1993)
A song I went out of my way to hear because Phil Collins was on it and, in the 1980s and 1990s, I really enjoyed it when he appeared on other people's tracks. This is no exception. But David's voice still sounds so good.
'In My Life' by Crosby, Stills & Nash (1994)
A cover of The Beatles' song, even this late in their career CSN could put together some great vocal harmonies. I was not a big fan of the host album, but this version of this song stands out to me.
'Radio' by David Crosby (2014)
Later-era Crosby, a song I bought on CD Single, not just because I enjoy the song but, I admit, partly because I wanted to support the man. I like the guitar sound as well as his voice, and I think it's a fine way to finish this list.
Unfortunately, there are not a lot of things to add. He had a life that was amazing, he was a survivor of things that many others might have fallen at, he went through family tragedy, and yet he recorded and was involved with so many great songs.
I hope the twelve I have put here are a good representation of the man's work, and that you have enjoyed this.
But I am getting a little depressed writing about some of my favourite musical artists passing away with alarming frequency.
Vale, David Crosby, and to his family and friends, I hope you are doing well.
Thanks for the remembrances Steven.
I also loved the early songs - as in the songs on your list - particularly Turn Turn Turn - a total classic.
Recently I heard songs on his last album, For Free.
Somehow his voice remained young - this is one I really liked - I won't stay for long.
Wow some amazing songs there. I am not a really a fan of David Crosby but I do admire what he has done musically through the years. This remembrance has sent me down a rabbit hole. I have been playing a lot of Youtube videos of CSN and CSN&Y the last few days and loving it. They had some incredible harmonies.
We are losing too many wonderful musicians and its makes me very sad.