has a well-earned reputation for being an angelic-faced bad boy, a drug addicted ego
freak. His work throughout the 60s and early 70s was mostly within the confines of The Byrds
or Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young
. There is one record though, that to me is the standout among all the work of both of those bands, and it technically belongs to Crosby alone.
Crosby's first solo record, If I Could Only Remember My Name
, as far as I am concerned, is one of the best albums ever created in the first place. It's an oddity for sure, and it seems miraculous that it was ever made. The album was recorded in San Francisco's Tenderloin in 1970/71. Sonically it's pure Cros-- heavy on the mystical harmonies, musically meandering all over the place-- but it also has guest appearances by Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Jerry Garcia,
and Jorma Kaukonen,
among many others. One of the best parts about the record is laying back, letting the sound float around you and then hearing intermittent vocals from Joni and Neil washing in and out of different songs. Though this is a solo album, the feeling of the record is often one of hazy collaboration, of seamless blending toward a greater vision. Someone needs to write a book about these recording sessions, if anyone can remember them!
The title just seems so fittingly Crosby! It always kind of cracks me up. The early 70s were a particularly drug-addled period for him. I recently read that he was referring to reincarnation with the title, not general confusion...but if you listen closely to the lyrics they seem to often reference being overwhelmed by city life, distrust and paranoia. All of this is presented in gorgeous, hooky tracks, so you could easily miss some of the more heavy themes. On the positive side of the lyrics, there are tracks like the beautiful and hippy-ish "Music Is Love." Check out this awesome performance of "Traction in the Rain" by Crosby and Graham Nash.
This was on the BBC before the record was even recorded.