There’s this thing that guitarists sometimesdowhen they feel particularly passionate about an acoustic and want to share its wonder. Whether sitting or standing, they hold it alofton its back, firmly yet gently, with minimum points of contact, and say,“Listen to this. Shhhh…yougotta listen to this.” Then they make a single solid strum and let it ring.
Ten secondsgo by. It’sgorgeous. Then 20. Still clearlyaudible, still of the same piece,a gentle, even, musical decay. Has it been
30 seconds? It just keepsgoing. Ringing and singing. The tone, the resonance, the very combination of woodshover in the room long after the strum isgone. A great guitar in the hands ofa great guitarist? There isnothing 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 thanmost, with an ear for sublety, nuance and tone.He’snot 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’snot really thought of asa 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 whenmost any other individual, regardless of his or her career, would be contemplatinga porch and hammock at the lake house, Crosby just wrapped up a three-album, two-year run and headedout on tour withone 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. JamesRaymond, 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, MichelleWillis, and Becca Stevens. Then there’s the singer-songwriter circle in and around his adoptedhome in the Santa Ynez Valley, northeast of Santa Barbara. People like Michael McDonald, Jackson Browne and Chris Pelonis,who designed his studio and photographed this month’s cover of Mix.
His beautifulhome nestled in the hills, his lovely wife, Jan, his dogs and horses, the alcovehonoring his friend, HisHoliness the Dalai Lama—all of this contributes to the recent burst of creativity. Place matters, he says, and he’s inagood place.
“It’s quiet,not a lot of traffic,” he says. “Life isnot aboutwhat you would like it to be nextweek, or whatyou did two years ago. It’s aboutwhatyou do after breakfast. Peace and quiet and a quality of life. Green trees, lots of animals—it makesa difference inwhat kind of artyou make.”
David Crosby is an Artist witha capital A.He lives at the front end, with the song, his voice and a guitar, into a microphone. That’swhere it all begins for him. That’swhat matters.
“It’s the truth,” he says. “Ifyou don’t have a song that you can walk up and sing to somebody and make them feel something, thenyou 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 ornateproductions…and the song wasn’t there in thefirst place. Thenyou go listen toa Joni Mitch- ell record,a Jackson Browne song, ora Paul Simon song, and you say, ‘Now that’sa song.’”
Takeamoment to call up Spotify orgoout and buy the re- cords—Croz, Lighthouse, Sky Trails. There are some fine songs in there, too.