Listen To This Eddie is a weekly column that examines the important people and events in the classic rock canon and how they continue to impact the world of popular music.
You don’t find too many artists out there on the other side of 75 still plugging away and making new music. Practically no one of that age is laying down some of the best material of their careers. Then again, David Crosby isn’t like most other artists. The one-time Byrd, and a quarter of one of the greatest songwriting teams ever assembled — Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – is currently in the midst of an incredible renaissance, and he knows it.
“Musically I totally did the right thing,” he said about his decision to quit CSN and work with two different groups of collaborators. “These two bands [The Lighthouse band and the Sky Trails band], not only express what I want to express musically, they challenge me. I have to paddle faster just to keep up with these kids man!”
Ever since he decided to strike out on his own a few years back, the musical floodgates he never expected have opened, and it’s been all he can do to capture the magic on tape while he still can. In 2016, Crosby unveiled a sparsely arranged, wholly affecting solo album titled Lighthouse. This year, he’s decided to follow-up that record with an equally impactful release, a more ornate, jazz-tinged collection of songs called Sky Trails.
Carried by songs like Steely Dan-ish “She’s Got To Be Somewhere,” the whimsical title track, the Spanish-flavored “Curved Air,” and a stunning cover of Joni Mitchell’s “Amelia,” Sky Trails is a work overflowing with different musical ideas, textures, and influences. I recently spoke with Crosby about his resurgence, what he thinks of newer bands and his contemporaries, and why his music sounds so great when you’re stoned.
Between Lighthouse and now Sky Trails, how much material were you holding onto during those last few years while you were still in CSN?
Quite a bit. How bands work, in my opinion, you get together, you love each other, you’re thrilled with each other’s songs; it’s all really quite wonderful. 40 years later [laughs], when we didn’t like each other anymore, and there was no forward motion, it devolves into turn on the smoke machine and play your hits. It’s not good enough for me. I was building up a head of steam so to speak, and when I left that group, it all came out. That’s why there’s been three records in three years.
“Building up a head of steam” is a bit of an understatement. As someone who’s followed your career for a long time, I’ve been stunned by the quality and the emotion you’ve been pouring into these new albums.