Or, if you prefer, Crosby’s Still Hash ‘n Guns
If I Could Only Remember My Name is the title of David Crosby‘s first solo LP. I like to think it’s so-titled because Crosby always seemed to be lightly toasted; a joker, smoker and midnight toker who always appeared just on the wrong side of frazzled. With his impish grin and walrus moustache, he’s always been a cartoonish figure, a happy hippy, a furry freak brother for real. His police mugshot from 1980 certainly adds fuel to the fire. This is the man of course who wrote ‘Almost Cut My Hair‘.
Despite – or perhaps as a direct result of this – If I Could Only Remember My Name just so happens to be a spectacular album.
Recorded at the beginning of the 70s, it’s the sound of Laurel Canyon looking inwards for inspiration. The personnel reads like a who’s who of all who were responsible for creating music in cosmic Ca-li-for-ni-aay; Joni and Neil, Jerry Garcia, half of Jefferson Airplane, the odd waif and stray moonlighting from Santana, they all combined talents over the course of the album, creating a super-stoned marker for the future of singer/songwriters everywhere.
The album is full of peaks and troughs, with fragile, Nick Drakeisms one moment making way for soaraway CSNY-ish harmonising vocals the next and delicately plucked acoustics that take a bell-bottomed step aside in favour of tastefully amped-up electrics. Wordless vocal passages, Gregorian Chants as sponsored by Rizzla, weave in and out like lightly-blown butterflies in a summer field. It’s a distilled microcosm of late 60s/early 70s, a fine balance of carefree troubadour tormented by inter-band tension.
With it’s sandpaper-smooth acoustic guitars and a hot-wired electric guitar forever on the point of teetering over the edge, second song in, Cowboy Movie, is the lo-fi scratchy half cousin of Neil Young‘s Down By the River. It’s over 8 minutes long, and not a second of the story, a metaphor for the in-band fighting that was going on at the time, is wasted.
David Crosby – Cowboy Movie
David Crosby – Traction In the Rain
Traction In The Rain rings with brightly strung, wonkily-tuned acoustic guitars, a close-miked, half-asleep vocal and tumbling harps. Very 70s hippy-shit. And very nice, man.
If this has whetted your appetite, the album is well worth buying. I think you’d like it.