David Crosby in five songs

David Crosby in five songs

American songwriter David Crosby died Thursday at the age of 81. A look back at the career of a musician who embodied the counter-culture of the 60s.

David Crosby in 2013 – Getty

David Crosby was a figure in the American counterculture of the 60s and the Los Angeles music scene. With the Byrds, he develops an airy folk-rock typical of the US West Coast. With his friends Steven Stills, Graham Nash and Neil Young, he carries the acoustic guitar like a weapon “that kills the fascists”, fights against the war in Vietnam and for the emancipation of a whole generation. Summary of his career in five songs.

1. The Byrds, “Eight Miles High” (1966)

England with the Beatles and the Stones, Los Angeles the Beach Boys and the Byrds. With this pop track with aerial vocal harmonies, the Byrds invent psychedelic rock. It is the American counterpart of “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds”. The influence of the Byrds can still be heard today in the Allah-Las, the Brian Jonestown Massacre and the whole neo-psychedelic fringe.

2. Crosby, Stills & Nash, “Wooden Ships” (1969)

After the Byrds, David Crosby formed a trio with Stephen Stills of Buffalo Springfield and Graham Nash of the Hollies. Guitars and vocals intersect, soft and soaring on this “Wooden Ships” co-written with Paul Kantner of Jefferson Airplane buddies. The tire speaks of the Mayan, the boat that David Crosby offered himself and which sails towards imaginary oceans between science fiction and hallucinogenic trip. Gorgeous.

3. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, “Almost Cut My Hair” (1970)

A few months later, a Canadian from Buffalo Springfield arrives in this pretty trio. Neil Young will offer some memorable songs to the group, but it is David Crosby who writes this “Almost Cut My Hair” which appears on the album Déjà Vu and will become a classic of the hippie movement. Reference is made there to the soldiers who have to cut their hair to go to the front in Vietnam where the protesting youth proudly wear their hair long and unkempt.

4. David Crosby, “Cowboy Movie” (1971)

On his first solo album, David Crosby settles accounts with his former partners. This Cowboy Movie featuring Stills, Nash & Young. They who were the kings of Woodstock are now strangers, each leaving for his corner. For David Crosby, the separation will be painful. Between two reformations, he falls into drugs and gets lost. But this record will nevertheless define what will be the Californian sound of the 70s. It will be necessary to wait until 1989 for Crosby to release his second solo album.

5. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, “Ohio” (1969)

Admittedly, it was Neil Young who wrote the title, but it reflects David Crosby’s philosophy well. An activist and militant musician. In 1970, the Ohio National Guard charged a peaceful student protest against the Vietnam War at Kent University. Four young people will fall under the bullets of the police. In response, Young wrote the song and the quartet recorded it almost instantly. According to Neil Young, David Crosby is heard breaking down in tears at the end of the take.

Also Read: David Crosby, American Folk-Rock Legend, Has Passed Away

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