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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‘.

david crosny mug shot

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.

February 1969, California, USA --- Musicians David Crosby (left), Joni Mitchell and Graham Nash travel to Big Bear Lake. --- Image by © Henry Diltz/CORBIS

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.

12 Jul 1970, USA --- Musician David Crosby smokes a cigarette while Neil Young looks on. They are in a backstage bathroom. --- Image by © Henry Diltz/CORBIS

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 CrosbyCowboy Movie


David CrosbyTraction 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.