David Crosby: Remember My Name
Through most of his stellar musical career, David Crosby was not a nice person, and he's largely OK with that. Such is the running theme of this documentary on the singer-songwriter, most famous as a member of The Byrds and Crosby, Stills & Nash (and sometimes Young).
The 95-minute film, directed by A.J. Eaton and produced by Cameron Crowe (the chief interviewer), doesn't even pretend to cover Crosby's entire life, instead highlighting pivotal moments (mourning a girlfriend, forming CSN, dating Joni Mitchell, recording “Ohio,” doing jail time for drugs) while almost entirely ignoring some major milestones (his at least three biological children, two as a sperm-donor to Melissa Etheridge; his decades-long success as a duo with Graham Nash).
The interviews with Crosby are frank and revealing and no doubt guided the filmmakers' wise choices. When Crosby says early on that he's the only member of CSNY who never penned a hit song, it's both surprising and revealing — he's still bitter, still nursing self-doubt.
Equally honest on camera are Stephen Stills and Nash, the latter perhaps the last person save for Crosby's devoted wife, Jan (also interviewed by Crowe), to give up on him. Crosby makes no excuses for treating people terribly and ruining his and others' lives with his incessant drug use, but he does acknowledge the damage in his wake.
The film is short on new interviews, save for the Crosbys, Jackson Browne, and Byrds co-founder Roger McGuinn. Most of the other voices are from archival footage. Either the filmmakers decided to limit their research for some reason or a lot of people retain a lot of residual anger toward Crosby and declined to participate.
The film follows a recent solo tour by Crosby, which is fogged by late-life regret, exhaustion and a certain level of desperation. A performance film this is not. Nor is David Crosby: Remember My Name (the title comes from an early solo album) a CNN-style primer on its subject. Rather, it’s a case study in talent given early means to excess and abuse. As such, it's a remarkable achievement.
Grade: A-minus. Rated R. Now playing at Grail Moviehouse.
(Photo: Sundance Institute)