Editor's Note

It All Starts With A Song, A Voice And A Guitar

From the Editor 8/09/2017 9:30 AM

There’s this thing that guitarists sometimes do when they feel particularly passionate about an acoustic and want to share its wonder. Whether sitting or standing, they hold it aloft on its back, firmly yet gently, with minimum points of contact, and say, Listen to this. Shhhh…you gotta listen to this. Then they make a single solid strum and let it ring.

Ten seconds go by. It’s gorgeous. Then 20. Still clearly audible, still of the same piece, a gentle, even, musical decay. Has it been

30 seconds? It just keeps going. Ringing and singing. The tone, the resonance, the very combination of woods hover in the room long after the strum is gone. A great guitar in the hands of a great guitarist? There is nothing better.

David Crosby is an amazing guitarist. He has some amazing guitars. And he keeps getting even better.

Though he is not an engineer, Crosby hears and listens better than most, with an ear for sublety, nuance and tone. He’s not a studio designer, but he can talk woods and density and resonance all day long, drawing parallels between his beloved 1969

Martin D45s and the sound of his favorite studio, friend Jackson Browne’s Groovemasters. He’s not really thought of as a songwriter, but he has lived his whole life with music in his soul. Of course he writes, and now, in his early 70s, the songs are pouring out of him.

At at a time in his life when most any other individual, regardless of his or her career, would be contemplating a porch and hammock at the lake house, Crosby just wrapped up a three-album, two-year run and headed out on tour with one of the two bands he performs and records with. He’s still irascible, funny, insightful, contemplative and compassionate. And he’s happy.

A lot of that has to do with the people in his inner musical circle. James  Raymond, his son; Michael League, composer from one of his favorite bands, Snarky Puppy; Jeff Pevar from the core mid-‘90s CPR; and players Mai Agan, Michelle Willis, and Becca Stevens. Then there’s the singer-songwriter circle in and around his adopted home in the Santa Ynez Valley, northeast of SantBarbara. People like Michael McDonald, Jackson Browne and Chris Pelonis, who designed his studio and photographed this month’s cover of Mix.

His beautiful home nestled in the hills, his lovely wife, Jan, his dogs and horses, the alcove honoring his friend, His Holiness the Dalai Lama—all of this contributes to the recent burst of creativity. Place matters, he says, and he’s in a good place.

“It’s quiet, not a lot of traffic, he says. Life is not about what you would like it to be next week, or what you did two years ago. It’s about what you do after breakfast. Peace and quiet and a quality of life. Green trees, lots of animals—it makes a difference in what kind of art you make.

David Crosby is an Artist with a capital A. He lives at the front end, with the song, his voice and a guitar, into a microphone. That’s where it all begins for him. That’s what matters.

“It’s the truth, he says. “If you don’t have a song that you can walk up and sing to somebody and make them feel something, then you don’t have it. And you can’t polish it. Music is sort of reflective of American values in that it’s become so much about surface and not about substance. You hear these people polishing these records and see all these ornate productions…and the song wasn’t there in the  first place. Then you go listen to a Joni Mitch- ell record, a Jackson Browne song, or a Paul Simon song, and you say, ‘Now that’s a song.’

Take a moment to call up Spotify or go out and buy the re- cords—Croz, Lighthouse, Sky Trails. There are some fine songs in there, too.