David Crosby brings CSN favorites, new solo material to Englewood - NewJersey.com
At 75, David Crosby is hardly slowing down. After having released only three solo studio albums in the first seven decades of his life, he issued “Croz” in 2014 and “Lighthouse” last year, and is now selling another one, “Sky Trails,” at shows. He plans to release it officially later this year.
Ironically, this spurt of activity comes at a time when it’s very hard to make a significant amount of money from recorded music, since few people still buy albums in physical form.
“Trust me to get it backwards and do it when there’s no monetary reward!” Crosby says with a laugh. “I wish I had done it when we were selling millions, but I wasn’t in that state of mind.
“I guess it has to do with me being happy. I’m happy with my family, and my friends, and this work that I’m doing.”
Crosby, who performs in Englewood on Tuesday and in Westbury, N.Y., on Thursday, is touring with a five-piece band that includes his son, James Raymond, on keyboards. The two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Famer (inducted for his work with the Byrds and Crosby, Stills & Nash) will preview songs from “Sky Trails” and also perform plenty of old hits.
Though he says “Sky Trails” is not a political album, the single he has released from it, “Capitol,” is an angry topical song, criticizing politicians who “ignore the Constitution and hide behind the scenes/Anything to stay a part of the machine.”
“I think these are really tough times,” Crosby says. “And I have a feeling that it’s going to generate a bunch of really good art.”
Especially when working with Stephen Stills, Graham Nash and their occasional partner, Neil Young, Crosby has made some rousing protest music over the years. Two Crosby-written CSN(Y) songs in particular, “Long Time Gone” and “Almost Cut My Hair,” are among the most indelible counterculture anthems of the ‘60s and early ‘70s.
“I get a couple of emails every day saying, ‘Get your [personal issues] out of the way and put CSNY back together, because the country needs you. We need you to get out there and kick butt,’” Crosby says.
Could that happen? Young and Nash have said, vehemently, that it won’t, expressing anger over comments Crosby made criticizing Young’s girlfriend, Daryl Hannah. But Crosby has apologized, and says he is hopeful that the four can work it out.
“Never say never,” he says. “There’s always a possibility. We’ve broken up and re-formed so many times.”
Although Stills and Nash sang lead on most of the group’s hits, Crosby had the most distinctive songwriting style. He’s had it since the Byrds’ 1966 “Fifth Dimension” album, in fact: an approach that dispenses with hooky melodies and lyrical clichés in favor of complex, meditative lyrics and free-flowing music.
“I am not a pop writer at all,” he says. “I write stranger stuff, and I like it that way. I treasure good words, and try really hard for them. They don’t always make it. But I’ve always tried to say something.
“That’s why I love Joni [Mitchell] so much, that’s why I love Bob [Dylan] so much. ’Cause they’re such good poets.”
Ray Romano Hosts International Myeloma Foundation's 7th Annual Comedy Celebration Benefiting The Peter Boyle Research Fund
David Crosby performs during the International Myeloma Foundation's 7th Annual Comedy Celebration in 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo: Mike Windle/Getty Images for IMF)
At times, Crosby’s music almost feels more like jazz than pop or rock.
“That simple, repetitive stuff that pop songs are built on … it’s not my thing,” he says. “I am strongly influenced by jazz.”
He cites Miles Davis, John Coltrane and the Weather Report as favorites, as well as the jazz-influenced rock bands Steely Dan and Snarky Puppy. (Michael League of Snarky Puppy has been an occasional Crosby collaborator in recent years.)
He also says he has an idea for a jazz album.
“You know the songs that I have that don’t have words? Like ‘Tamalpais High’ or ‘Song with No Words’ or ‘Dancer’? I’ve been thinking about getting some jazz players ― horn players ― together, and doing with horns what the vocals do in those songs. And then expand from there; go into improvisation from there.
“I’m gonna do it. I just haven’t had the time, so far.”
WHAT: David Crosby
WHEN AND WHERE: 8 p.m. May 16 at bergenPAC, 30 N. Van Brunt St., Englewood; 8 p.m. May 18 at The Space at Westbury , Westbury, N.Y.; (201) 507-8900, ticketmaster.com.
HOW MUCH: $40 to $80 for Englewood, $51 to $96 for Westbury