April 29, 2007

David Crosby
photo from John Nork’s interview 

Recently I have been listening non-stop to the music I grew up with.  Joni of course, but also Crosby, Stills and Nash. 
These musicians were the foundations of my generation’s coming of age in the 70’s. I’ve always appreciated their high level of artistry; but only now, having read about their lives do I understand the risks they took artistically and the major influence they had on the contemporary music scene. (I’ll  develop this thread another time).

Crosby’s 3 piece CD set, ‘Voyage'(2006) is accompanied by an excellent essay on his life and music by Steve Silberman. In the notes for Crosby’s, ‘Song with no Words (Tree with no leaves)’ was this quote,

‘There was all this immensely wonderful chemistry going on. I’d play a song…to Jorma, then I’d play it to Jack, I’d play it to Paul, I’d play it to Phil, I’d play it to Jerry, I’d play it to Grace, I’d play it to Mickey, I’d play it to Billy, I’d play it to Neil. That was the close-in group. On any given night, we might try any given song. On some nights we would hit critical mass. The thing would go nuclear, and we’d have it on tape’.  

Two things about this touched me: first, the great description of the ‘flow’ that happens when real art is made. And secondly, the sense of community with other artists which Crosby seems to always have had and nurtured in others.  That group of musicians, including Joni , Stephen Stills, Judy Collins, Graham Nash, etc., lived close enough to one another to wander in and out of each other’s houses. They shared their lives, music and sometimes their partners.

Rich lives, new stories 
I never got into the drugs or free love scene, and didn’t understand why anyone would. Though I still feel that drugs are basically destructive, with hindsight I see that some artists who were pushing their edges back then were genuinely exploring new ways of being. The ground they broke in California in the 60’s and 70’s provided a base for all of us to try new social and artistic forms.

These artists ventured to internal places of darkness and light, and brought back Stories for the rest of us to live and grow by.

These performers are now in their 60’s. I’ve watched current concert DVD’s of them all and there is mastery and tenderness in their performing. A few of them are doing some of their most meaningful work now.

David, for one, was almost destroyed by drugs and other events in his life: but with perspective, I see his as a life being fully lived- rich with music, friendship and love….and finally the emerging wisdom of a survivor.

Thanks Dave, thanks Graham, and Stephen, and Joni,  for your music most of all. And for your lives.

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