Posts Tagged ‘Crosby Stills Nash’

Saying Good-Bye

January 21, 2023

Who wants to see an abandoned soul?
Who wants to try and open it?
Who wants to know what desperate is?
Who wants to buy what’s broken?

David Crosby “What’s Broken”

In my narrow life’s narrative, celebrities seem to be dying weekly, sometimes daily. The loss always gives me pause. The end of the songs, the poems, the novels, the visual works of art. No more new creations from these perennial creators. The book is closed.

But day before yesterday, the largest tree fell in that enormous forest of musicians who have enriched me. From 1969 till now, if I could name only one, it would be David Crosby.

In 2014, I would drive through the darkness of the pre-dawn listening to the lyrics posted above from the album Croz. I couldn’t believe the man remained so prolific in his seventies.

In 1969, we were playing electric guitars in high school, trying to copy riffs from the Beatles, the Stones, the Monkees. I was bored with the scene. And then, one day in my friend’s bedroom, on his portable stereo, he put on the new album Crosby, Stills & Nash. The very first song I heard from them, “Suite Judy Blue Eyes”, totally astounded me. The tight vocal harmonies, the acoustic guitars. From that very day, I dropped all interest in the electric guitar. I purchased an Alvarez 12-string acoustic, and my musical life changed. Now, years later, I still play an Alvarez 12 and a pair of Martins. So much has changed in my musical tastes and abilities, but one musician still towers above them all. I no longer play in a band. I no longer perform. But in the stillness of my room, cradling an acoustic guitar, I feel his Presence affirming what I attempt.

In 1969, when I looked at their faces inside that first album, I was amused at the red-haired musician with the walrus mustache and mischievous twinkle in his eye. When I learned which voice was his, that rich baritone that always found the sweet spot in the chord, and later learned of his amazing assortment of alternative tunings, I knew I would be spending the rest of my life trying to figure out all the possibilities of acoustic guitar riffing and song writing.

And of course, I drew his portrait. Over and over and over again throughout the years. And now again early this morning at my gallery desk, I draw him yet again as I say Good-Bye.

I lived in Texas when he was arrested in 1982 at a Dallas night club. I cried. And then I cried again in 1985, the day he turned himself in to the FBI as a wanted fugitive, his hair full of lice and his body wasted by disease. His imprisonment cratered me. And then . . . he was out again. Writing music. Performing.

I finally saw him in person in 1992, in Dallas of all places, when Crosby, Stills & Nash were doing an acoustical tour. When they finished singing “Deja-Vu”, Graham Nash chirped: “So. You think you have been here before, David?” Crosby then cracked a smile and said, “Yeah, but at least now I’m not getting arrested!”

I saw Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young later in Dallas, then the trio two more times in Grand Prairie. David’s stage presence, to me, was always riveting.

Since his liver transplant, I have anticipated his death. But when it finally came, I was not prepared for how I feel. For two days, I’ve wanted to draw his portrait and post a blog tribute, but the gallery has had me covered up the entire time and today is also filled with appointments. Hence, this early morning attempt to get something out there. I have to say something. Write something. No matter how many months go by, I’ll never get the words to come out the way he deserves.

So, for now, all I can say is Good-Bye, my Friend. I’m sorry you never got to hear the words from me, but at least you got to hear the words from thousands, hear the applause from countless thousands, and know there were millions more out there touched by your creations.

Stream of consciousness
On a sleeping
Street of dreams

Like scattered leaves
Slowed in mid-fall
Into the streams

Of fast running rivers
Of choice and chance
And time stops here on the delta
While they dance, while they dance

I love the child
Who steers this riverboat
But lately he’s crazy
For the deep

And the river seems dreamlike
In the daytime
And someone keeps thinking
In my sleep

Of fast running rivers
Of choice and chance
And It seems as if time stops here on the delta
While they dance, while they dance, while they dance . . .

David Crosby, “The Delta”

Thanks for reading.


Keep Reaching Out, But Remember to Pay Yourself

February 21, 2015

A Younger David Crosby

A Younger David Crosby

Just like in the movies a message
Comes through all the static and hiss
Pulling just enough words from the storm-filled sky
To know that someone somewhere needs this

The radioman runs to the wheelhouse
Got that message held tight in his fist
An S.O.S. off of the wireless
Saying someone somewhere needs this

For you to look out
Look down
Reach your hand into the water
For you to look out
Look down
And pull someone out of the sea

You are the captain . . .  this is the ship
You will have to decide what gets done
Think about it when you’re on watch tonight
‘Cause someday this message will come

For you to look out
Look down
Reach your hand into the water
For you to look out
Look down
And pull someone out of the sea

And your hands are slippery
The wind is strong
The boat is rocking
The world is storm

Your hands are slippery

You feel like turning away to run free

Your hands are so slippery
But you can pull someone out of the sea

For you to look out
Look down
Reach your hand into the water
For you to look out
Look down
And pull someone out of the sea

For you to look out
Look down
Reach your hand into the water
For you to look out
Look down
And pull someone out of the sea

David Crosby, Radio

The grading for the weekend is promising to be one long, sustained grind, but I’ve remembered to stop intermittently and pay myself. After rising early this morning and grinding through my first tall stack of papers, I recalled that I’ve already worked 40-plus hours this past week (all teachers do) and am coming to resent that the hours were not enough–I’m losing a weekend to grading. So I stopped long enough to reward myself before plunging on to the next stack of papers.

I put the new DVD on for my second listen (Crosby, Stills & Nash 2012) and felt some hurt when Graham Nash, now in his senior years, reported to the audience that they as a group had written a lot of songs over the years, but could have written a lot more. He then introduced their next song Wasted on the Way. I understand plenty of what he meant. Most of us probably live with regret that we didn’t do more of worth in our past endeavors, particularly when it comes to enriching others. I could not begin to record adequately the ways that CSN enriched my life throughout the decades–I don’t have that long of a manuscript in me, I’m afraid. As they closed out their encore, honoring teachers with Teach Your Children I of course know that I could have done more and better as a teacher throughout the years. But I’m not going to go there. What’s past is past, and I still have opportunities within reach.

One of my driving philosophies of life is that a person has to pay himself/herself if there is to be any hope for being good for others. And I have tried to stay with that philosophy. Those who don’t know me well enough have accused me of being a workaholic. Not true. Much of what I do that they think is work brings me pure joy, and I feel that it is play. That particularly applies to studying the subjects I teach and creating works of art (no! I don’t regard grading as my joy–that is strictly work, strictly hell).

So. I laid aside my grading long enough to attempt a pencil sketch of a younger David Crosby. Though Neil Young has been closer to the center of my musical imagination in my later years, David Crosby was the one who stole my heart in 1969 when I was in high school. The first CSN album release immediately compelled me to drop the electric guitar with its power chords and pick up the acoustic guitar and pursue vocal harmonies.  Crosby’s rich baritone voice was closest to my own range (though I wished like hell I could reach those clear sharp tenor notes of Graham Nash!). And I absolutely loved that Buffalo Bill Cody buckskin outfit he frequently wore! I was residing in Fort Worth when Crosby was arrested in the Dallas nightclub, and my heart was torn. Once he released his confessional autobiography Long Time Gone, I purchased it and read every word. I cried. I’m so glad he is back and O.K. for the time being. And I really appreciate that he is still writing music–his recently released Radio being my favorite of all time, as it speaks to what I feel in the teaching profession. I posted the lyrics at the top of this post, and am so delighted that it is part of the performance on this DVD.

So, what am I trying to say? That if you wish to be good for others, and wish to do well in your endeavors, never neglect to pay yourself. Don’t burn out. Replenish. I will attempt to avoid burnout this weekend by doing some things that matter to me, including listening to music that moves me and attempting to push out some works of art.

Thanks always for reading.

I make art in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not really alone.

Coming of Age

February 20, 2015

Very Rapid Sketch of My All-Time Favorite Musicians

A Very Rapid Sketch of My All-Time Favorite Musicians

As I come of age
I keep fallin’ down
And I feel just like a schoolboy
I was in a senseless rage
Runnin’ too hard
And I tore you all to pieces

Yes but it’s all over now
I’m a little bit older now
The lessons that I’m learnin’ now
Gonna make it easy

Now then can I try
Starting over
Put the pieces back together
Even as I cry bitter tears
I can see it’s all a puzzle
A game
Always the same

By the time I die with the passing
If I’ve sorted out my changes
And if you could take the time
I would tell you that it’s still a puzzle
The same
Always a game

Stephen Stills, As I Come of Age

After a more-challenging-than-usual school week, I now face the ponderous task of grading stacks and stacks of papers to meet a report card deadline. As Friday afternoon stretched into evening, I decided I deserved a break and strolled into a music store and WOW, I found a DVD of a Crosby,Stills & Nash concert from 2012. To my knowledge, I have every VHS and DVD performance of theirs available, and had no idea that this one existed. The lyrics to the song posted above I heard for the first time in 1992 and was moved profoundly by the quality of the music as well as the message. But I only heard the studio recording that I’ve possessed, and it is driven by piano. On this new set, two acoustic guitars lead the song, and I cannot describe the emotion I felt as I heard the voices of my three vocal heroes mesh over the strains of the acoustic strings. At this point I can say no more. I’ll try to do some quality blogging this weekend, between grading.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am never alone.

Winter Closing In

November 15, 2014

Road Trip in the Crisp Cold

Road Trip in the Crisp Cold

I awoke today and found

the frost perched on the town.

It hovered in a frozen sky

then it gobbled summer down.

When the sun turns traitor cold

and all the trees are shivering in a naked row.


I get the urge for going

But I never seem to go.

I get the urge for going

When the meadow grass is turning brown

Summertime is falling down and winter is closing in.

Joni Mitchell

After a second shivering night without a furnace, it was a genuine pleasure to meet with a writer and creative spirit for a 6:30 breakfast in front of a roaring fire place.   The conversation was first rate, and there just doesn’t seem to be enough of those available today. So . . . (you know who you are!) . . . thanks for a fabulous breakfast and most soulful chat.  Thanks for a wonderful beginning to this cold morning.

I’ve posted these lyrics above that have haunted me for years now.  I had no idea that Joni Mitchell penned the words, as I’ve listened to the song performed by Crosby, Stills, Nash.  And though the song was never a hit, it remains one of my favorite, most soulful pieces.  I love the approach of the year-end holidays and the change in climate, mostly for the memories–an admixture of joy and sadness, gratitude as well as regret.  Soulful.  That is the best way I can describe the coming season.  And I welcome it.

Painting is the trade that takes longest to learn and is the most difficult.  It demands erudition like that of the composer, but it also demands execution like that of the violinist.

Eugene Delacroix, Journal, September 18, 1847

Right now, the house and studio are too cold for painting, but at least I could study it further with the plethora of books I have surrounding me now.  And I have the time . . .

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.