David Crosby’s ‘If I Could Only Remember My Name’ – his most definitive album turns 50

David Crosby’s ‘If I Could Only Remember My Name’ – his most definitive album turns 50

After the preliminary dissolution of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Younger, all 4 members went on to launch landmark solo albums. First out of the gate was Neil Younger — already a longtime solo artist — with September 1970’s After the Gold Rush, then Stephen Stills‘ self-titled solo album, David Crosby‘s If I May Solely Bear in mind My Identify, and Graham Nash‘s Songs For Rookies. Neil’s album after all went on to turn into some of the widespread rock information of all time, and Stills’ and Nash’s albums each produced enduring High 40 hits (“Love the One You are With” and “Chicago,” respectively). As compared, Crosby’s album has turn into extra of a hidden gem over time, not a staple of basic rock radio like his work with CSN(Y) and The Byrds, however a goldmine for these desirous to discover it and a whole realization of the psychedelia that Croz had been honing in on since The Byrds’ groundbreaking 1966 single “Eight Miles Excessive.” That album turns 50 right this moment.

After rising as a pioneering people rock and jangle pop band and scoring chart-topping hits with distinctive covers of Dylan and Pete Seeger tunes, The Byrds caught on to the psychedelic craze that swept rock and pop music within the mid-to-late Sixties, and no Byrds member embraced it extra firmly that David Crosby. The band’s aforementioned 1966 single “Eight Miles Excessive” took affect from Ravi Shankar and John Coltrane and made allusions to drug use in its lyrics, and it is extensively thought of one of many first psychedelic rock songs ever written. Croz co-wrote that tune together with his bandmates Gene Clark and Jim McGuinn, and from that time on, he more and more grew to become The Byrds’ freak flag waver for psychedelic music, contributing trippy compositions like “Renaissance Truthful,” “All people’s Been Burned,” “Thoughts Gardens,” and “Tribal Gathering.” At their now-legendary efficiency on the Monterey Pop Festival, Croz — a lot to his bandmates’ dismay — grew to become The Byrds’ spokesperson for mind-expansion, urging politicians to take LSD and blurting out issues like “your mom will get excessive and you do not even understand it!” Across the identical time, Crosby’s hippie-friendly ode to like triangles “Triad” was rejected by The Byrds for its subject material, so Croz gave it to his mates in Jefferson Airplane. By October of 1967, he was kicked out of the band.

Not lengthy after his departure, he linked up with Stills and Nash, and his curiosity in psychedelic music carried over into CSN’s self-titled 1969 debut on songs like “Guinnevere” and “Wood Ships,” the latter of which was co-written with Stills and Jefferson Airplane’s Paul Kantner and in addition recorded for the Airplane’s 1969 album Volunteers (and carried out by each bands that yr at Woodstock). Croz snuck musical weirdness into every band he was in, but it surely wasn’t till If I May Solely Bear in mind My Identify that he was capable of indulge his most mind-bending impulses for the size of a whole album.

Like on all of their solo albums from the period, different CSNY members have been current on If I May Solely Bear in mind My Identify (opening observe “Music Is Love,” the album’s closest factor to a success, was co-written and co-sung with Neil Younger and Graham Nash), and the album additionally featured Joni Mitchell and a collective of musicians from the Haight-Ashbury scene nicknamed The Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra. The group was made up of members of the Grateful Lifeless, Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service, and extra — together with Croz, Nash, Paul Kantner, Jerry Garcia, Grace Slick, Jorma Kaukonen, Jack Casady, Phil Lesh, Invoice Kreutzmann, Mickey Hart, and David Freiberg — who made their debut on Paul Kantner’s gorgeous 1970 sci-fi idea album Blows Against the Empire and in addition performed on Nash’s Songs for Rookies and different albums from that period by Paul Kantner, Grace Slick, Mickey Hart, Jefferson Airplane violinist Papa John Creach, and extra. In order a lot as If I May Solely Bear in mind My Identify is certainly a solo album, it is also a supergroup of a few of the biggest musicians of the Woodstock technology. Jerry Garcia performed an especially big role within the making of the report; it’d an enormous lacking hyperlink to speak concerning the Lifeless and their mates’ prolific early ’70s studio output and omit this album.

The folky, shambolic, Neil Younger and Graham Nash-assisted “Music Is Love” opens the album on its most CSNY-like notice, although it is much more of an overt hippie anthem than “Wood Ships” or the Joni Mitchell-penned “Woodstock” or anything the group had launched prior, and the report simply will get weirder from there. The radio-friendliness disappears by observe two, “Cowboy Film,” eight minutes of jammy psych-rock that finds Crosby backed by half of the Grateful Lifeless and sounds as freeform and improvisational as something the Lifeless have been doing on stage in that period. Songs like “Tamalpais Excessive (At About 3)” and “What Are Their Names” marry the glistening, acid-soaked instrumentals of Deadhead faves like “Darkish Star” and “St. Stephen” to the painstakingly stunning vocal harmonies that Crosby penned in The Byrds and CSN(Y). “Traction within the Rain” reminds you that each one Crosby must hypnotize the listener is his voice and acoustic guitar, and that — as a psychedelic people singer — he may rival Tim Buckley or Syd Barrett or Vashti Bunyan or any of the opposite cultishly-loved solo artists who have been reevaluated as underrated pioneers in the course of the 2000s freak people increase. On “Orleans” — a harmony-laden association of a French conventional fueled by a number of overdubs of Crosby’s personal voice — he virtually invents the type of Fleet Foxes’ first album. On album nearer “I would Swear There Was Someone Right here,” he leans into the studio-as-instrument method and creates the type of audio mindfuck that Panda Bear would make a profession out of, utilizing virtually nothing greater than his voice and results.

Even when the album wasn’t actually “the Grateful Lifeless meets Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Younger,” that’d be a great way to explain it. Crosby embraced the Lifeless’s explorative jam facet when his two earlier bands would not, and he was capable of embellish these jams with the sorts of complicated vocal harmonies that the Lifeless by no means had the power to tug off themselves. It is a basic doc of psychedelic people, psychedelic rock, jam band, and experimental music, and it stays such a vital report as a result of it continues to immediately and not directly affect artists throughout all 4 of these genres of music half a century later. (And aided by Jerry Garcia’s pedal metal, “Laughing” can principally qualify as proto-alt-country.) There isn’t any mistaking what period this album is from — if something, it sounds extra like what we consider as “’60s music” than what we consider as “’70s music” (the story that Altamont killed the hippie period is a neat ending on paper, however loads of musicians carried the sounds of the ’60s over into the following decade, Crosby included) — but it surely continues to be hanging how recent and timeless this album sounds yr after yr. The recognition of psychedelic music ebbs and flows but it surely by no means absolutely goes away, and Crosby’s debut nonetheless sounds prefer it may slot in at any level within the final half-century of psychedelia.

If I May Solely Bear in mind My Identify is a type of albums — like The Seaside Boys’ Smiley Smile or The Rolling Stones’ Their Satanic Majesties Request — that you simply virtually cannot imagine was launched by such a well-known musician throughout such a peak of their profession. David Crosby is a family identify, however you are approach much less prone to encounter a stranger on the road who can hum a tune from this album the way in which they may “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.” It’s each eternally underrated, and probably the most complete portrait of who David Crosby is as an artist.

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