Sunday, July 7, 2019

The David Crosby Movie | Lefsetz Letter

It’s utterly fantastic. Riveting. If you were around back then, if “Deja Vu” was a staple in your bedroom, or dorm room, you’re going to be taken right back to that era and marvel, it isn’t nostalgia, but more like being woken up, to the lost dream, and the journey thereto, and the possibilities that still remain.

David Crosby. Didn’t both he and Nash pale in comparison to Stills?

Then again, Stills pales in comparison to Young. Who is famous for going his own way. It’s Neil who abandoned Stephen right before the “Long May You Run” tour, Stills soldiered on.

And then Neil reinvented himself, he told us it’s better to burn out than to fade away, and if you follow your dream and keep looking over that distant horizon and bow to no one, you can remain mysterious and continue to garner eyeballs. But does it make you happy? Is Bob Dylan happy on his endless tour reinventing his songs?

But Bob doesn’t know what else to do. Like Croz. He can only make music.

But the difference between Neil and the rest of CSN is that the latter made it on folk music, dreamy music, pleasant music, touch your soul music, and that never quite goes away. Sure, Stephen stretched into harder rocking and even Latin, but when you think of Crosby, Stills & Nash, your mind is set free as the mellifluous sound washes over you. Even the impassioned “Almost Cut My Hair” or “Long Time Gone,” they’re your inner angst, you can relate.

And you’ll be able to relate to David Crosby in this movie, because he’s human.

Now when you reach my age, you’re surprised by two things. The people who get sick and die, and those who retire and give up. Whereas there’s a small coterie who keep trying to push the envelope. David Crosby is one of those people. He’s so loquacious, you lament when he stops talking. He’s not exactly lovable, but he’s so real. In a world of duplicity. He was always this way. Which accounts for both his successes and his failures. Because people don’t like honesty. You tell lies to spare people’s feelings, to get along. David Crosby burns through people, hurts them, he doesn’t get along. All these years later, the body may be fading but the spirit shines through, brilliantly.

If you saw “Echo In The Canyon,” Crosby talks about being kicked out of the Byrds. Emphatically, he says he was a word that begins with an “a” and ends with an “e” and I’d spell it out here, but then this missive would never make it through the spam filters. Crosby never worried about the spam filters in life. He ran around naked, did drugs, he and his music were why we wanted to move to California. To partake.

And Crosby was oftentimes there first. The first musician to move to Laurel Canyon. And he doesn’t want credit as much as he wants to set the record straight. This movie is mostly about looking backward, but somehow, at 77, David Crosby is still looking forward.

He’s got to work, he’s got to go on tour, to pay the bills.

Sure, he blew a lot of money, but there’s this fantasy that rock stars are rich. But did you read that Gary Duncan, who played guitar in Quicksilver, who just died at 72, was a longshoreman after the music money dried up? We all have to pay the piper. Unless you’re lucky enough to be a billionaire, or to inherit the money and not blow it. So David Crosby is working, chances are you’ve got a bigger nest egg than he does. Then again, he’s not cutting corners, he’s got a nice spread with some horses.

So he wants to be a rock and roll star. And he makes it. Today he says he wished he’d realized how hard that was, and soaked it up.

And he did it to get laid. And he took advantage. But unlike too many musicians, he can hold a conversation, he’s not mute, he’s intelligent and can wrestle with concepts and you wish you could hang out with him on his couch, shooting the s___.

So he gets kicked out of the Byrds, which is done very well here, in animation, and he goes to Florida and discovers Joni Mitchell and shows her off in L.A. Because she wanted it. And she also wanted Croz. David says it was her choice.

And in the movie they roll up to that house. You know, OUR HOUSE, and Crosby tells all the tales, of singing with Stephen and Graham for the first time and…

You wished you were there. But you weren’t. That’s the difference between then and now. Then it happened behind closed doors, and usually stayed there, you did not have access.

And music was everything and you could buy the records and go to the show, those were your only options, other than the radio, but that wasn’t for true fans. When you see pictures of the comeback stadium tour, in ’74, your jaw will drop. The only people who can sell that many tickets today, by themselves, are maybe Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift, for now. But this was already four years past their last hit. Does anybody care after four years today?

You feel the pulse. It’s like that Eagles doc. When they’re walking into the stadium in Colorado. What you feel is…THE POWER!

And it’s not about personality, but music. Which at that time everybody wrote by themselves, or with their group, it went straight from their heart directly into yours.

Now the film is told in a somewhat linear fashion. But there are excursions back and forth and the truth is you lived through this era, addicted to the sound, what were you doing when it all went down?

And there’s Kent State. And even the Dick Cavett show after Woodstock, which Crosby talks about too and…

What if you had a ringside seat. For life, for whatever was going down. If you were a rock star back then, you were international royalty, recognized everywhere by everybody and treated like a king.

But those were just the trappings.

Today it’s only about the trappings. And no one’s that big. And the rich hide behind gates, and vacation on private islands and…

This film will take you back when.

And just like those days, you won’t be able to avert your eyes, you won’t be thinking about anything else, you’ll be glued to the screen.

And movies today are something different. They’re based on comic books. As if real life is too scary. As if we all needed an escape.

But the truth is in the sixties and seventies not only was the music our escape, it was a journey unto itself, we sailed away from our parents as we were inspired to think for ourselves and…

David Crosby has never stopped thinking.

He admits his faults. He says when the adrenaline flows, he can’t help but express his anger, which gets him in trouble.

Then again, all the greats are warped. They’re trying to fill a hole inside that can never be topped-off, no matter how much money and success.

And the money is always cool. But it used to be about what’s inside.

You get inside David Crosby’s head in this movie.

And that’s one of the great journeys of all time.

Who are we? What is this life about? What should we be doing?

Too many drift through life somnambulant, without ever taking a risk, or putting themselves in the mix.

So when someone marches to the beat of their own drummer, we want to know how they did it. What motivated them, what they saw.

And David Crosby saw and did a lot. And when you watch him you know why. He’s different.

Are you?


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