Legendary musician David Crosby, twice inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – as a member of The Byrds and Crosby, Stills and Nash, is 78 years old and still touring. This documentary, “Remember My Name,” with producer Cameron Crowe interviewing him, reflects on how he defined a generation, and a lifetime of making music and raising hell.
Full disclosure: Crosby, Stills and Nash was my favorite band in my late teenage and college years. I defy anyone to listen to “Helplessly Hoping” and not find it one of the greatest examples of vocal harmonies of all-time.
Crosby cut a wild figure during his halcyon days, with that unruly long hair and shaggy mustache, his defiance and cockiness. However, he sure made great music, and has been honest in interviews over the years about his flaws. He remains a colorful character.
Filmmaker Cameron Crowe, a revered rock music writer for Rolling Stone, knew him in the ‘70s and ‘80s. He has produced a compelling movie that ditches most talking heads in favor of an interview that allows the artist to be completely candid. And it’s a fascinating look back and ahead. The archival footage alone is stunning.
Crosby is filled with regrets. “I hurt a lot of people,” he said. None of his former bandmates talk to him. Neither Graham Nash, Neil Young or Stephen Stills would be interviewed, but the film does feature snippets of a Nash interview with Paul Shaffer from 2018 in which he talks of their riff – they had talked nearly daily for 45 years.
Ex-Byrds Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman are featured, however, and their early days, meeting the Beatles and having success with Bob Dylan’s song “Mr. Tambourine Man” are interesting tales.
Woodstock and the Laurel Canyon music scene are explored, but the film’s most powerful moments are at a Kent State memorial, with CSNY’s lyrics to “Ohio” emblazoned on a wall.
Nothing is off limits, it seems, and there is considerable time devoted to his past drug addiction. Crosby, with a myriad of health problems, is asked: “Do you ever wonder why you’re still alive?”
The conversation is so good – and Crowe does not really insert himself until near the end, like all well-trained journalists – that you want it to continue.
As a significant player in the soundtrack of our lives, “David Crosby: Remember My Name” is as engrossing as it gets as a documentary. What a legacy.