Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young exerted a magnetic pull on American culture during their brief spurts of collaborative creativity in the late 1960s and early 1970s, defining the sound of the folk-rock golden age and encapsulating the ideologies of the radical era with their sagely songwriting. Of course, magnets repel as well as they attract, and CSNY’s legacy is marked as much by interpersonal dissonance as it is by angelic harmony.
But while bad blood may have defined CSNY storylines in recent decades, the members of the star-crossed supergroup look back on the subtle alchemy of their communion with brotherly fondness. Following the death of David Crosby earlier this week, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, and Neil Young have all issued heartfelt eulogies for their longtime collaborator.
As Stills reflected in a post on his Facebook page, “I read a quote about composer Gustave Mahler’s performance of Mahler’s 9th symphony by the San Francisco Orchestra from music critic Mark Swed that stopped me for a moment: ‘Death has, on placid cat’s paws, entered the room.’ I shoulda known something was up. David and I butted heads a lot over time, but they were mostly glancing blows, yet still left us numb skulls.. I was happy to be at peace with him.”
“He was without question a giant of a musician,” Stills continued, “and his harmonic sensibilities were nothing short of genius. The glue that held us together as our vocals soared, like Icarus, towards the sun. I am deeply saddened at his passing and shall miss him beyond measure.”
[Photo via Stephen Stills – David Crosby (left) and Stephen Stills (right)]
While Neil Young and David Crosby made headlines with a notable series of personal issues in recent years, Young had nothing but reverent words for him in a eulogy post on his Neil Young Archives site. “David is gone, but his music lives on,” Young wrote. “The soul of CSNY, David’s voice and energy were at the heart of our band. His great songs stood for what we believed in and it was always fun and exciting when we got to play together. Almost Cut My Hair [sic] Dejavu [sic], and so many other great songs he wrote were wonderful to jam on and Stills and I had a blast as he kept us going on and on.”
“We had great times, especially in the early years,” he continued. “Crosby was a very supportive friend in my early life, as we bit off big pieces of our experience together. David was the catalyst of many things. My heart goes out to Jan and Django, his wife and son. Lots of love to you. Thanks David for your spirit and songs, Love you man. I remember the best times!”
Young also made specific mention of Crosby’s symbiotic creative relationship with Graham Nash, calling their duo segments during CSNY performances “a highlight of so many of our shows.” Graham himself looked back on those duets in a remembrance posted to his Facebook page.
“Grateful to have sung with him, played with him, butted heads with him, and for going through so much together,” Nash wrote. “David was as complicated as the intricate melodies he crafted. You can hear bits of a very deep soul echoing through his playing and the lyrics he composed. It’s his beautiful music that will live forever in all of our hearts. I’m just lucky to have known him.” Along with the note, Nash shared a live video of him and Crosby performing Crosby’s “Guinnevere” as a duet. Watch the video below.
Graham Nash & David Crosby – “Guinnevere” (Live) (David Crosby)
Rest easy, Croz. Thank you for the lessons.
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