February 22 – Croz’s Solo Debut

2/22/71: David Crosby – If I Could Only Remember My Name

I’m currently mired in another winter writing motivational slump, but after letting a couple of key release dates slip by recently I wanted to get something down about one of my favorite albums, David Crosby’s solo debut If I Could Only Remember My Name, released this day 50 years ago.

If I Could Only Remember My Name... | 500 Square Music Album Covers

I only learned about this album about twenty years ago, and I don’t recall how. I’d heard the live cut of Laughing on CSNY’s 4 Way Street album, but it didn’t occur to me to find out what album it’s from, and it didn’t resonate with me as the studio version would. This song, with Joni Mitchell’s beautiful backing vocal and Jerry Garcia’s haunting pedal steel guitar, is just one of the great songs on this release. While this is a solo release with the majority of its songs credited to Crosby alone, he enlisted the help of a number of friends in the studio.

If I Could Only Remember My Name by David Crosby free ringtones for Android  & iPhone phones | Melofania

Paul Kantner was concurrently recording his concept album Blows Against the Empire at Wally Heider Studios in San Francisco where Crosby was working, as were The Grateful Dead, who were laying down tracks for American Beauty. Kantner had help in the studio from a group of SF musicians loosely named the Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra. This included Crosby, plus members of the Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Santana, and Jefferson Airplane. Many of them also found their way into Croz’s studio to support his effort, and they were joined by Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, and Graham Nash. The result was an eclectic group of songs that form a record I find to be cohesive in some spots and beautifully disjointed in others. Either way, it works.

CROSBY, DAVID - If I Could Only Remember My Name - Amazon.com Music

The dynamics at play here with the various relationships among the album’s musicians are interesting to me, including the fact that CSNY were in one of their “off” modes after the release of Déjà Vu, yet Neil Young co-wrote and played on the opening tracks to both sides of Croz’s album, including the angry and still relevant What Are Their Names. The autobiographical Cowboy Movie, written about the breakup of CSNY (which of course wouldn’t be complete without a reference to the “sweet little Indian girl,” a.k.a. Rita Coolidge), is another standout. Neil Young and Jerry Garcia trade guitar licks while the rhythm section features Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, and Phil Lesh. Cowboy Movie sounds like an early Grateful Dead track with Croz on vocals. It’s definitely a song to crank up to eleventy.

David Crosby - If I Could Only Remember My Name - WOW! | Page 3 | Steve  Hoffman Music Forums

There are a couple of instrumentals on the album, but far from sounding like filler, they lend beautifully to the vibe of If I Could Only Remember My Name. That vibe to me is the come down from the 60’s and perhaps some somber reflections had by David Crosby about his own life and relationships at the time. Comparisons can be silly, but for the sake of this post I’ll share that I rate this album snuggly next to CSNY’s Déjà Vu, just behind the first Crosby, Stills & Nash album. It’s a little embarrassing that it took so long for me to “discover” it for myself, but it’s a keeper that cuts deeply some days.


Side One:

  1. Music Is Love
  2. Cowboy Movie
  3. Tamalpais High (At About 3)
  4. Laughing

Side Two:

  1. What Are Their Names
  2. Traction in the Rain
  3. Song with No Words (Tree with No Leaves)
  4. Orleans
  5. I’d Swear There Was Somebody Here


Kids and Dogs






May 1970, Pt. 2 – The Woodstock Soundtrack and Thoughts on the Festival

Woodstock: Music from the Original Soundtrack and More

On May 11, 1970 the soundtrack to the Woodstock film was released as a triple album, but only covered a fraction of the performances. My favorites from this “condensed,” initial release are performances by Canned Heat, Richie Havens, Arlo Guthrie, Sly and the Family Stone, CSNY, Santana, Joe Cocker, and Ten Years After. Obviously this was one of the cultural events of the 20th century U.S. if not the biggest. It introduced the masses to the likes of Richie Havens, Santana, and Canned Heat (whereas some of the others had previously had their coming out parties in places like Monterey two summers earlier). I think the one aspect of it all that sticks with me is the sheer nerve these folks had to have to get up on that stage in front of so many people, especially those who were better known locally in places like the Bay Area (Santana) or the East Village (Havens). Santana drummer Michael Shrieve had just turned 20, and he gave one of the more incredible performances of any musician there in my opinion.

Michael Shrieve - DRUMMERWORLD

Someone posed the question on an online music forum I visit, if you could go back and attend either the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 or Woodstock in ’69, which would you choose? If I’m honest with myself, it would probably be Monterey. Woodstock was great and significant for all the reasons we’ve seen and heard over the years, but if I were to have plunked down on that hillside in the actual conditions they dealt with at Yasgur’s farm, I would’ve been miserable. Hendrix at dawn when I’m sitting in a muddy landfill and probably haven’t slept in a couple days? No thanks. I’m content to watch that on TV with a clean bathroom nearby. I would’ve made a lousy hippie when it comes down to it. and judging by the garbage left behind, many of the attendees made lousy hippies as well.

11 Images That Will Make You Go 'Wait, Really?' (With images ...

Hendrix at Monterey? Absolutely. The overall lineups for both events had their pros and cons looking back, but they were both unique. For example, the Association would not have fit into the Woodstock vibe (I know, I know, but somehow Sha Na Na did?), but they were still relevant enough to make sense at Monterey. From my perspective it seems there was a vast difference between 1967 and 1969 as seen in the documentaries of both events. At Monterey a hint of innocence could still be seen. The Counter Culture was just starting to explode, but in a way people seemed to maintain a little more individuality than a couple years later when it came to their appearances and attitudes. For most, the scene was still new and full of possibilities. There wasn’t quite the ubiquitous hippie uniform and attitude. Also, not as many people – musicians and fans alike – were as strung out at Monterey as at Woodstock. I’m not articulating this very well. Maybe it’s none of that. Perhaps it’s my perception that in 1967 there was more optimism for a better world: for the war to end, for racial harmony, etc. The year 1968 created much disillusion, and by the time Woodstock happened the first of the Manson murders had occurred less than a week earlier, Altamont was just a few months away, and Kent St. not far behind. All that said, I realize Woodstock couldn’t have been pulled off without positivity and optimism, so maybe this is all hindsight from someone who wasn’t even there. Perhaps somebody who was alive at the time can set me straight on this.

Crowd shot - Monterey Pop Festival | Monterey pop festival ...
Monterey Pop Festival, 1967

Woodstock, 1969