In March of 1970, Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, known better as CSNY, released their smash second album. Its title track, Déjà vu, was written by a young David Crosby and easily could’ve been a subtitle to the new documentary: David Crosby Remember My Name; frequently, the film seemed to be telling the same story of self-destruction over and over again.
The documentary, which spanned from Crosby’s early days with country-rock pioneers the Byrds to the present day, covered his relationships, both with women and fellow musicians, and how he ruined most of them. It began with his early days in the Byrds and how his counter-culture personality clashed with their image as a pop group and caused them to fire him in 1967. It then moved on to how CSN and CSNY, two groups which Crosby jokingly referred to in the movie as totally different bands, were formed and how again, Crosby’s behavior caused the dissolution of the group.
Wearing his signature red wool beanie and frequently smoking an unfiltered joint, Crosby gave agonizing testimony of how he turned girlfriends of his onto heroin and cocaine and how these addictions also affected his professional life. Interspersed with shots of Crosby onstage, sweating bullets with pupils the size of half dollars, it helped to paint a picture of how his drug use drove a wedge between him and his bandmates.
A telling feature was the absence of current footage of any of his bandmates. Neil Young, for example, only appeared in archived footage and Byrds founder Roger McGuinn showed up only to describe how difficult David was to work with. This was made clearer as Crosby explained that it’s been multiple years since he’s actually spoken to any of his former bandmates in years. As Crosby put it towards the end of the documentary, “I don’t have any problem with Neil (Young), Neil’s got a problem with me.”
Following a 1982 imprisonment in the state of Texas, Crosby got sober and as evidenced by his recent spate of solo albums, his life is going fairly well; however, it seems that the damage had been done.
It was a heartbreaking documentary, and the amazing soundtrack, featuring Crosby’s hits from throughout his career made the footage that much more impactful.