David Crosby died yesterday, and it left me with somewhat complicated feelings. Crosby was, of course, one of the founders of the Byrds, and then subsequently one of the founders of Crosby, Stills & Nash (later Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young).
CSN&Y famously played its second gig ever at Woodstock.
Crosby himself was a complicated guy. Prone to addiction and erratic behavior, he spent 9 months in a Texas state prison in 1985 on weapons and drug charges, and then was arrested again in New York City in 2004 on more weapons and drug charges. (That time, he only got probation and a $5000 fine.)
Crosby was also the recipient of a highly publicized liver transplant in 1994, which generated a discussion about whether a celebrity who abused his body as much as Crosby had should be eligible for a transplant ahead of other, less famous people in the line.
Finally, Crosby had complicated relationships with his bandmates. He fought with just about all of them, and at the time he passed away he was still on the outs with all three of the other members of CSN&Y.
But here’s the thing: Crosby was part of the hippie generation.
And the hippies were right.
About just about everything.
Our society is corrupt, and seems to be getting more corrupt all the time. As technology seduces us, and we become more alienated, and the rich get richer and the powerful get more powerful, I long for the idealism of the hippies. That may not have been a practical life-style, but there are so many things so wrong with our current world, that a part of me wishes we could blow the whole thing up and start over again.
With better intentions.
For whatever his faults, David Crosby was always on the right side politically. He was anti-war and anti-nuke back from the 1960s, and had stayed progressive ever since.
His generation is dying out now, and I’m sorry to see them go. And, let’s not forget that Crosby was an extremely talented songwriter. Very talented. And a very good singer, who was able to blend his voice expertly with his other bandmates.
I don’t personally believe in the after-life, and Crosby is now wherever he was before he was born. But I hope that he had a sense of completion by the time that he did pass away.