For Free by David Crosby


On Monday July 19th, the Government lifted all lockdown restrictions. They had promised to use “data not dates” but it’s not clear whether or not they have done that. Thanks to the magnificent “More Or Less” programme on the BBC for providing me with some data.

  • We are in a third wave. During the second wave in January, more than 4000 people were being admitted to hospital every day. Estimates are that hospital admissions will rise to about 1500 a day fairly soon.
  • The date of the peak numbers of hospital admissions is predicted to be some time in August. It could be in early August or late August. If it is in early August, that’s good news because it will be a lower number than a peak in late August.
  • About 90% of adults have received at least one dose of the vaccination.
  • About 50% of current cases of COVID are from people who have had at least one dose of the vaccine.
  • After a second dose of the vaccine, both of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Pfizer/BioNTech vaccinations are over 90% effective in stopping hospitalisation or death.
  • If you are vaccinated, the chances of you passing on the virus to someone else is reduced by about 55%.
  • For people who get COVID in their 20s, about 1.5% go on to get Long-COVID.
  • For people of all ages who get COVID, about 12% go on to get Long-COVID. This means that they have at least mild symptoms for more than 12 weeks.
  • Long-COVID can affect people in different ways. For people who get COVID aged over 60, about 5% get Long-COVID so severely that it affects their ability to function as normal.
  • The chances of getting Long-COVID are halved for people who have a double vaccination.
  • 30% of people who have not had COVID report that they have symptoms that are associated with Long-COVID. These are symptoms (e.g. tiredness, headaches etc.) that they are getting as part of everyday life and not because of COVID.
  • More than 90% of people aged over 55 have had both doses of the vaccination.
  • About 65% of people aged between 18 and 24 have received one dose of the vaccination.
  • In the first wave of the pandemic, 25 children (aged under 18) died.
  • The risk of hospitalisation for children is 1 in 2000.
  • 40 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccination have been ordered and about half have already been given. Another 60 million have been ordered and should arrive by September.
  • 17 million doses of the Moderna vaccination have been ordered but only about 2 million have arrived so far.
  • Nearly 130 000 people in the U.K. and about 4 million people in the world have died from COVID.

David Crosby is celebrating the fact that he is still alive although he has no plans to celebrate his 80th birthday on August 14th. He says “No birthday party. I am celebrating that I am alive. I am celebrating that my relationship with my family has improved by being home.” In the opening song on the album, David Crosby sings about facing his mortality head on, with a positive fatalism: “It’s out of my head. It’s out of my hands“. For many people, it’s a wonder that he has survived this long, bearing in mind his drug use. He has suffered from hepatitis C for many years and in 1994 he had a liver transplant (paid for by Phil Collins). He also suffers from type 2 diabetes.

Having released albums only sporadically since 1974, he has now made five albums in seven years. He says “I can tell you what happened. I have people I write with. I started out as a solo writer, writing all my own stuff and jealously guarding it. A lot of people do that. They want all the credit, they want all the money. What I found out is, the other guy always thinks of something I wouldn’t think of. It’s more colors, it’s like having two palettes of colors instead of one. We paint a better picture. I love doing it. I did it with “Wooden Ships” a long time ago with Stephen Stills and Paul Kantner. Lately, my son James Raymond, he’s such a good writer. He’s matured, on this record, to the point where he’s as good as I am if not better.

There’s not really space here to tell the full story of David Crosby but here are some highlights

  • In 1980, David Crosby was seriously addicted to crack cocaine. In the middle of a recording for a Graham Nash solo album, During a recording session for a Graham Nash album called “Earth And Sky”, the musicians were in the middle of a long improvised jam when David Crosby’s crack pipe fell off an amp and broke. He stopped the recording so that he could fix his pipe.
  • Two years later, David Crosby drove to a show in San Diego, to perform at an anti-nuclear rally with Steven Stills and Graham Nash. He experienced a cocaine seizure, crashed his car into a fence and, when questioned by the police why he had a loaded gun in the car, he replied, “John Lennon”.
  • In 1985, David Crosby spent nine months in a Texas prison for possession of heroin and cocaine.
  • In 2004, David Crosby was charged with criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree, illegal possession of a hunting knife, illegal possession of ammunition, and illegal possession of about one ounce of marijuana. He was fined $5,000 and given no jail time.
  • Pete Townsend once tried to encourage David Crosby to kick his drug habit. He relayed the discussion to Rolling Stone in 2014: “I said, ‘Who is this?’ He says, ‘Pete Townshend! Listen! Get the fuck off that shit. Stop fuckin’ up. Get your fuckin’ act together, you hear me?'”
  • In 2017, Ted Nugent complained that the only reason he wasn’t in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame was because of his pro-gun stance. David Crosby tweeted that Ted Nugent “isn’t good enough” for the recognition to which Ted Nugent replied that David Crosby was “an evil rotten soulless punk that has criminally poisoned his bloated carcass his entire vapid life.” 
  • In his book “Wild Tales”, Graham Nash wrote that when on tour with CSN&Y, David Crosby “took two beautiful women with him on tour. Often I would knock on his hotel door, which he kept propped open with a security jamb, and he’d be receiving fellatio from both of these girls, all while he was talking and doing business on the phone and rolling joints and smoking and having a drink.
  • Graham Nash wrote a song called “Encore” for David Crosby. In an interview, he said the song asks “who are you? Are you a decent person or a fucking asshole?
  • Beckett Cypher was the son of singer Melissa Etheridge and her ex-partner Julie Cypher. The pair, who split up in 2000, had two children together by artificial insemination, Beckett and his sister Bailey. Their biological father is rock legend David Crosby. In May 2020, Beckett Cypher died from opioid addiction.
  • The pandemic caused David Crosby to cancel all touring and his financial situation looked desperate until he sold his publishing rights.
  • David Crosby now suffers from tendonitis which makes it difficult for him to play guitar.
  • In 1962, David Crosby’s girlfriend gave birth to a son and they put him up for adoption. In 1995, his son, James Raymond, tracked him down and they became good friends.

James Raymond has produced this album as well as playing on every track. David Crosby says “Can you imagine what it’s like to connect with your son and find out that he’s incredibly talented—a great composer, a great poet, and a really fine songwriter and musician all around? We’re such good friends and we work so well together, and we’ll each go to any length to create the highest-quality songs we can.

River Rise” was written by David Crosby, his son James Raymond and Michael McDonald, who sings on the song. (Michael McDonald was in The Doobie Brothers and, briefly, Steely Dan). James Raymond says that the song “came from wanting to write something very evocative of California, but almost with a country-song perspective—something that speaks to the empowerment of the everyman or everywoman.”

I Think I” is an atypically upbeat song. David Crosby says “I sound happy, don’t I? Normally I write these tortured friggin’ ballads that drag on. I was so friggin’ thrilled to write something that was up and fun. That was really a joy to have happen. It was sort of a breakthrough with me.” The song describes the feelings of release after emerging from a dark time – a sensation with which David Crosby is familiar.

The Other Side Of Midnight” is gorgeous and highlights David Crosby’s great voice. The soaring harmonies are between him and his son and there is some lovely finger picking guitar playing, even if his tendonitis means that the tempo of the song is relaxed.

David Crosby says that “Steely Dan’s my favorite band and I’ve admired Donald Fagan for a long time“. After appearing as a guest on stage with Steely Dan, Donald Fagan sent David Crosby the lyrics for “Rodriguez For A Night“, a song about outlaws, angels, and drugstore cowboys which David Crosby admits he doesn’t fully understand. However, together with his son, he “Steely Dan’d them right into the fucking ground” and, again, his vocals are magnificent.

Secret Dancer” is a song about a robot created for war that achieves self-consciousness. “In the first 10 seconds, it learns all of human history, then it goes, ‘Let’s see … witch-burning … xenophobia … Maybe I just won’t tell them I’m here quite yet.’ But at night, when everyone leaves, it dances. It also decides that it’s female.”

Ships In The Night” is packed full of sailing references which come from David Crosby’s direct experiences as a sailor, having explored America’s coast at length in his yacht, “Mayan”.

David Crosby has always loved Joni Mitchell’s “For Free”. “I love what it says about the spirit of music and what compels you to play.” He sings the song as a duet with Sarah Jarosz. “I think she’s one of the most talented people in the entire world,” he says.

In “Boxes“, David Crosby opens some boxes, literally and figuratively and he marvels at what he finds. “Time’s a bitch, time’s a box. Time might show that there’s love in these boxes.” Once again, it’s a lovely song with a very relaxed, Southern Californian feel.

In “Shot At Me“, David Crosby asks a war veteran about how it feels to be shot at and how does it feel to be out of the war. The reply is “You got to fight your lifeline and pick up your thread and tell your story before you’re dead” which is either profound or hippy bullshit. I’m not sure what yet, but I like it whatever.

For the final track on For Free, David Crosby chose a song written solely by James Raymond, the gently devastating “I Won’t Stay for Long.” Inspired by Marcel Camus’s 1959 film Black Orpheus—a retelling of the Greek myth of Orpheus and his attempt to bring his wife Eurydice back from the dead—the song centers on an exquisite vocal performance from Crosby, as he sings “I’m facing the squall line of a thousand year storm. I don’t know if I’m dying or about to be born.” It’s a sensational finish to a lovely album and conveys the thoughts and feelings of a man, nearing the end of his life, feeling contented and optimistic.

“I’m fuckin’ lucky. I don’t know if I have two weeks left of life or 10 years, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is what you do with the time. If you sit there on your butt and worry about dying, then you’re fucking wasted it. I haven’t been wasting it. I’m having a really good time, and feeling wonderful about it. I’m very grateful for each day that I get. I try to spend my time making music because I think the world needs music. It’s not how much time you’ve got because we really don’t know. It’s what you do with the time that you have. I’m trying to really spend it well. “

Published by wilfulsprinter

Music lover

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