Why Stay Loose? Why Not?


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Homage to Croz

I’m not sure why I was watching C-SPAN that day.  Maybe I was bored and spinning the dial. I saw something unexpected.  There was David Crosby, the man whose name came first in one of my top-five favorite musical groups, being interviewed by a gentleman in a white shirt, tie and jacket who had a serious bone to pick with Croz.


Why, asked the interviewer, did rock stars like Crosby think they had the right to use their celebrity, and the wealth it created for them, to push their political viewpoints (presumably liberal ones) on their fans and anyone else who would listen?  Croz simply would not take the bait.  He smiled serenely as the interviewer asked him the same question over and over again in slightly different words.


Finally, Croz said “look, man, you don’t understand.  Money is fine, and power is sweet.  But time: now, that’s the ultimate currency.”  The interviewer had no comeback for that.  The discussion was over.


That, I thought, must be a couplet from one of his songs.  I spent the next few hours listening to his music and trying to find it.  When I failed and gave up looking, I decided it was too good not to be in a song.  So I did what T.S Elliot recommended that great poets do: instead of borrowing it, I stole it.


One of a songwriter’s goals is to write a second verse that builds on the first verse and chorus, rather than one that restates what’s been said before.  It sounds easy, but it happens rarely for me.  Now, whenever I sing my song called The Present Tense, I think of Croz when I reach the end of the second verse.  That’s where his words found a home in one of my songs.


I sometimes fantasized about sharing this song with him.  And now it’s too late.   A musical hero is gone, and my imaginary conversation with him about his role in a song that is special to me will have to wait for another time and place.


Though I was not a fan of his personal life off the stage, and I winced when I read about the continued rifts between Croz and two of his thee bandmates in CSN&Y, I admired his musicality and stage presence.  As a life-long student of harmony singing, I marveled at his ability to find just the right parts to sing in between the melody and the high harmony.  As Stephen Stills said in his eulogy, Croz was the glue that held their vocal sound together.


On March 8th, I’ll take the stage at Natalie’s Music Hall to sing with my comrades Doug Morgan and Phil Maneri.  Our stock in trade is to sing the songs of CSN and bring back great memories for our audiences.  I’m pretty sure we will be learning Long Time Gone for that performance.  And we might even sing The Present Tense.  Maybe I’ll be able to get through the second chorus without choking up.


Rest well, Mr. Crosby, and Godspeed.

September 07, 2008

July 08, 2008