David Crosby still keeping pace at 77

David Crosby has a busy summer with a tour and new documentary. Photo: Anna Webber
David Crosby has a busy summer with a tour and new documentary. Photo: Anna Webber

With a new solo album last fall (“Here If You Listen”), a 23-date tour that runs into June and an anticipated documentary arriving in July (“Remember My Name”), David Crosby is the definition of prolific.

Never mind that he’s 77.

Crosby, the folk-rock icon whose legacy with The Byrds and Crosby, Stills & Nash (and sometimes Young) is forever linked to a timeless directory of songs including “Teach Your Children,” “Our House,” “Wasted on the Way,” “Southern Cross” and a couple of hundred more.

No wonder, when he called in to chat with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Kaedy Kiely of The River 97.1 FM in April (hear the interview below), Crosby immediately proclaimed that he’s “a very happy guy.”

He’s also genuinely excited about returning to Atlanta – he plays the Variety Playhouse Sunday – and always thrills at the bookings in small venues (“Is that Jagger waving his scarf?” he joked about the mammoth stadium tours of The Rolling Stones, a venue selection Crosby experienced firsthand during a CSNY reunion tour in 1974).

Here is what he had to say about touring with his son - keyboardist James Raymond – as well as his upcoming documentary produced by Cameron Crowe and his new gig with Rolling Stone magazine. <br/>Q: You have so many solo albums to add to an already immense catalog. What are we going to hear at these shows?

A: We change the setlist all the time. We have a bunch of new stuff and we have all the CPR stuff, then the Crosby/Nash records and (Crosby Stills & Nash) records and (Crosby Stills Nash & Young) records. But this band is the one we do the hits with; you'll hear "Ohio" and "Wooden Ships" and the songs you really love.

Q: Last year's album (“Here If You Listen”) was recorded with your Lighthouse band (Becca Stevens, Michelle Willis and Snarky Puppy’s Michael League), but this tour is with your Sky Trails band (the aforementioned Raymond, Mai Leisz, Steve DiStanislao, Jeff Pevar and Michelle Willis). You’re really getting around.

A: I've been writing a lot of songs and these young people I've been working with, they're writing a ton. James just finished in the last week two songs and it might have been some of the best singing of my entire life. I can't figure that one out. I did everything wrong, but everyone tells me I'm singing the best I've ever sung, so all I can do is be really grateful and sing a lot.

Q: What is it like having James on the road with you?

A: My son was put up for adoption when he was born and I wondered where he was for 30 years. He gets to bet about 30 and about to have his first child and his parents who raised him say, you should know who your genetic dad is. So he goes to find out and sees it's me and says, "Nah it couldn't be." When he finds out I'm his dad, he's already been a musician for 20 years. Normally those things can go badly. He came in and gave me a chance to earn his way into his life. We write a ton and he's a better musician than I am.

Q: The last time we spoke, you told me you were sleeping on a couch in your son’s basement.

A: That couch is a lot better than that prison bed. I feel like I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing. I'm 77 and have all these things wrong with me; the truth is, it's not how long you've got, but what you do with it. So I'm doing as much as I can, as fast as I can.

Q: You have a documentary coming July 19. What was your relationship with Cameron Crowe before working on it?

A: Did you see "Almost Famous?" He was the kid, we were the band. Cameron has known me for a long time, he knows me really well. He is my friend and he does love me and he gave me absolutely nowhere to hide. The result is this extremely honest documentary. I think it will shock some people, but it will really make us happy…What will surprise you was the level of honesty that comes out of it. The Keith Richards (documentary, "Under the Influence") was a good one. I generally don't think they're very good - they're usually self-serving. I want to know who the person is and what makes them who they are.

Q: You’re supposed to be part of Woodstock 50, but do you have any idea what’s going on with it (Ed. note – this was asked before the current upheaval with the festival)? 

A: I've been checking on it and it's happening. I'm going to try my level best to blow everybody off the stand. We'll be one of the legacy acts going back there.

Q: How do you feel about being the new advice columnist for Rolling Stone?

A: (Giggles) To me, it's one of the funniest ideas anyone ever had - to ask me for advice about anything! I think it's a hugely funny idea. What an opportunity to get in trouble. I'm going to have a lot of fun.


David Crosby & The Sky Trails Band

8 p.m. Sunday. $55-$245. Variety Playhouse, 1099 Euclid Ave. NE, Atlanta. 1-877-987-6487, ticketfly.com.

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