Not your typical classic rock star: David Crosby and his last live album

EDITOR'S NOTE: Musician David Crosby has died. The singer, songwriter and guitarist was a founding member of The Byrds and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. The Asbury Park Press is refeaturing this interview granted in December.

David Crosby isn’t your typical classic rock star.

Crosby, 81, is releasing a new live album this week — and it’s a collection mostly made up of material released in the last decade.

“Most of the people my age, with my history, would get out there and do their hits, period,” Crosby said. “This record, more than half of it is brand new stuff, and to me that speaks very loudly. … There’s a live record full of new stuff? That’s a different ball of wax. I’m very happy about it. I’m bragging about it, I know I am. I don’t care. I’m willing to take the fall for the bragging.”

More:David Cross, co-founder of Crosby, Stills & Nash, The Byrds, dies at 81, reports say

"David Crosby & The Lighthouse Band Live at the Capitol Theatre" was recorded in December 2018 in Port Chester, N.Y.
"David Crosby & The Lighthouse Band Live at the Capitol Theatre" was recorded in December 2018 in Port Chester, N.Y.

Releasing Friday, Dec. 9, via BMG, the CD/DVD set “David Crosby and the Lighthouse Band Live at the Capitol Theatre” was recorded in December 2018 at the historic venue in Port Chester, N.Y. The set finds Crosby in wonderful harmony with Becca Stevens, Michelle Willis and Michael League, the collective he’s collaborated with since his 2016 “Lighthouse” LP.

Mostly drawing on material from “Lighthouse” and the 2018 “Here if You Listen” album, “Live at the Capitol Theatre” showcases Crosby as an artist re-invigorated.

Already a two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member known for his work with the Byrds and Stephen Stills, Graham Nash and Neil Young, Crosby has spent recent years exploring new vocal and instrumental space with his latest collaborators, with shimmering and wondrous results.

Their work together, on numbers such as the “Here if You Listen” gem “Vagrants of Venice” or Stevens’ “Regina,” is so structurally inventive and harmonically rich that it becomes hypnotic.

“The minute the four of us started working (together), there was a chemistry. I could feel it,” Crosby said. “And so, because I revere that chemistry, that thing, the magic, I invited them to participate as equals.”

"Most of the people my age, with my history, would get out there and do their hits, period,” David Crosby said.
"Most of the people my age, with my history, would get out there and do their hits, period,” David Crosby said.

Who’s ‘Laughing’ now?

There are a handful of Crosby classics given fresh life on “Live at the Capitol Theatre,” including “Laughing” and “What Are Their Names?,” a pair of career highlights originally released on his 1971 solo debut, “If I Could Only Remember My Name.”

Featuring contributions from peers including Nash, Young, Joni Mitchell and Jerry Garcia, “If I Could Only Remember My Name” was generally disregarded at the time of its release, but has benefitted from reappraisal by critics and audiences in recent years.

Its creation in the wake of the 1969 death of Crosby’s girlfriend Christine Hinton in a car accident was a key touchstone of the terrific 2019 documentary “David Crosby: Remember My Name.” The album received the 50th anniversary deluxe edition treatment from Rhino last year. In 2010, even the Vatican declared it the second-best pop album of all time in its official newspaper, only being bested by the Beatles’ “Revolver.”

“It’s like justification,” Crosby said. “I thought it was a really great record when I made it. Rolling Stone said it was ... mediocre because they were into guitar records right then. But I think that was a mistake on their part. I think they just didn’t look at it closely enough. It’s a really interesting record. There’s a lot of really, really good music on it, very genuine.”

But, as the “Live at the Capitol Theatre” set list makes clear, Crosby isn’t content to just look back.

"David Crosby & The Lighthouse Band Live at the Capitol Theatre" will be released on Dec. 9 via BMG.
"David Crosby & The Lighthouse Band Live at the Capitol Theatre" will be released on Dec. 9 via BMG.

“I have another Lighthouse Band studio record already made, finished, mixed, mastered, ready to go,” he revealed with a giddy, playful laugh. That next studio album, Crosby’s sixth in the last decade, already has a successor on the way, with writing having begun for the album after that.

Crosby also wants to get back on the road with the Lighthouse Band, but tendonitis in both of his hands means he’s had to begin teaching friend and occasional collaborator Steve Postell his guitar parts.

“We are going to try playing together and see how it works,” he said.

There’s something special happening here, and Crosby seems determined to keep it going for however long he can, by whatever means necessary.

“I love that ‘Hey, let me tell you a story, come on along here, let me take you on a little voyage’ kind of thing,” he said. “I’m good at that, and I like it. ... And I miss doing it, so I’m very encouraged to try. ... I may not make it, but I think I’m going to try.”

This article originally appeared on Asbury Park Press: David Crosby last interview: Lighthouse Band Capitol Theatre album