David Crosby Essentials

David Crosby Essentials

Though David Crosby’s gossamer harmonies helped define the take-it-easy era of Laurel Canyon singer-songwriters, his seemingly gentle tunes also grappled with massive cultural upheaval and his own personal traumas. The Los Angeles native, who died in January 2023 at the age of 81, started shaping the early-’60s folk-rock hits of The Byrds with his chiming (and endlessly copied) guitar melodies, and he helped push the band toward its psychedelic inclinations with the serpentine-but-snarling "Eight Miles High." By the late ’60s, Crosby had formed a partnership with Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, and Neil Young—all exemplars of the Woodstock era’s quieter but no less impactful non-rock side. Uniting in various formations over the decades to come, the quartet's lilting music captured the essence of rockers suddenly grasping toward domestic bliss, made utter romantic devastation sound downright lovely, and occasionally flashed a sharp political edge, notably on Crosby's surprisingly tough-minded anthem of hippie pride "Almost Cut My Hair." In his solo career, he explored the mental and emotional fallout of the peace-and-love generation, veering from hallucinatory song-suites to intimate confessionals—which have in turn been reclaimed by indie rockers like Fleet Foxes and Bon Iver, who also sought to blur the line between psychedelic experimentation and candid folk.

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