Since Then: How I Survived Everything and Lived to Tell About It
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As a founding member of the celebrated folk-rock groups The Byrds and Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, David Crosby is a musical legend who has been inducted twice into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Beyond his lavish talents as a singer, songwriter, and guitarist, he is a beloved and sometimes notorious pop culture hero and social activist, who was the inspiration for the freewheeling character played by Dennis Hopper in the classic film Easy Rider. In his 1988 autobiography, the New York Times bestseller Long Time Gone, Crosby and co-author Carl Gottlieb chronicled his early years, his time in a Texas jail, his recovery from substance abuse, and his re-emergence as a vibrant and enduringly popular musical artist.
Teaming up with Gottlieb once again, Crosby now takes readers on a rollercoaster journey through his remarkably rich life and career over the past two decades in his memoir, SINCE THEN: How I Survived Everything and Lived to Tell About It (G. P. Putnam’s Sons Publication Date: November 7, 2006; ISBN: 0-399-15381-0; Price: $26.95). Crosby has frequently made the headlines with events like his controversial liver transplant, becoming a sperm donor for Melissa Etheridge and her then-partner Julie Cypher, and getting arrested for possession of guns and drugs. But there is much behind the headlines that has never previously been revealed, which Crosby discusses for the first time. In addition, he writes about his busy slate of current musical activities, including CSNY’s sold-out Freedom of Speech ’06 Tour and his participation in CPR, a group he formed with his son James Raymond and others.
Told mainly in Crosby’s own voice, SINCE THEN’s unconventional narrative cuts impressionistically across time and place and includes frank commentary from Gottlieb as well as family, friends, and musical associates like Graham Nash, Bonnie Raitt, and Grace Slick. Crosby is unsparingly honest and self-critical as he tells how he has survived life-threatening health problems – including a motorcycle accident, diabetes, heart attacks, hepatitis C, and liver failure – as well his financial disaster, an earthquake, and his own bad decisions to find greater happiness and satisfaction than ever before in his personal and professional lives.
In particular, Crosby writes movingly of the joy he takes in his family, which has grown in delightful and unexpected ways. Adult son James Raymond, who had been given up for adoption at birth, contacted Crosby soon after his liver transplant, and has become an esteemed musical colleague. Adult daughter Erika Keller has even more recently come into Crosby’s life, joining sister Donovan Crosby. Crosby and his wife, Jan, had to go through extensive fertility treatments before Jan became pregnant with their son Django, now eleven, shortly before Crosby entered the hospital for his transplant. Sadly, his older brother, Ethan, committed suicide in 1997, causing Crosby to reflect on their complex relationship as the sons of an Academy Award-winning cinematographer and an artistic mother, who divorced when they were young men.
Crosby’s decision, prompted by Jan, to become the biological father of Julie Cypher and Melissa Etheridge’s two children brought the glare of public attention. His identity was at first kept secret, and the situation only became more complicated when Julie and Melissa split up. Yet Crosby stands by his choice and staunchly defends the rights of same-sex couples to have children and to marry. He lays out challenging and sometimes surprising opinions on other hot-button issues, as well, including gun control, drug and alcohol use, and the music business. His liver transplant led him to become an advocate for organ donation, but also exposed him to criticism that he had received a transplant because of his celebrity status – a charge he thoroughly refutes.
In fact, political and social advocacy has informed Crosby’s life and career ever since he became part of the folk scene of the early sixties, and it continues to do so. He writes vividly about CSNY’s ongoing fifty-city Freedom of Speech ’06 Tour, which has attracted large crowds of all ages across the country. Audiences have responded powerfully both to the group’s musicianship, which Crosby believes is as good as or better than it has ever been, and to the tour’s anti-war, anti-Bush, socially conscious themes. Moreover, CSNY’s recent Madison Square Garden concert sparked a widely discussed column by New York Times writer Andrew Rosenthal on the intersection between social protest and music. Along with the other members of CSNY, Crosby raises funds for various charitable organizations with every ticket sold. He also remains active in local causes, like fighting the effort to build gambling casinos in the beautiful Santa Ynez Valley of California, where he lives with Jan and Django.
As Crosby writes, he tells stories of “love, family, competition, adversity, thoughtless behavior and political anger. A lot of it is just my sheer luck in life. I was tremendously lucky, surviving injury, illness, and stupidity. As for the music, I was blessed early and often, from The Byrds to Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, singing with Graham, meeting my son and creating CPR, having the most astonishing music come out of that, and just as I experience the wonderful exploratory forward motion of new music, here comes Neil, oops, out of left field, and he changes everything, as usual, and it’ll change everything again when he splits, as he eventually will. It’s practically Dickensian.”
Compelling and reflective, SINCE THEN reveals David Crosby in all of his complexity and contradictions: creative and sensitive, high-spirited and uninhibited, at times reckless and infuriating. Whether sailing, scuba diving, flying a plane, making music, or being with the people he loves, he continues to live his life with passion, commitment, and exhilaration. He remains an emblem of the sixties counterculture who has influenced a whole new generation of performers, a prominent advocate for social responsibility, and a prickly thorn in the side of hypocrites of all stripes.
About Co-Author Carl Gottlieb
Carl Gottlieb wrote the screenplay for Jaws, directed by Steven Spielberg; directed the Steve Martin short film The Absent-Minded Waiter, which was nominated for an Academy Award; won an Emmy Award for his work on “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour;” and coauthored Long Time Gone with David Crosby, a New York Times bestseller. Other writing credits include such classic TV sitcoms as “All in the Family,” “Laverne & Shirley,” and “The Bob Newhart Show.”