“David Crosby: Remember My Name” is many things aside from a documentary.
First, it’s Crosby’s proclamation to the world saying, “Yes, I’m still alive and still making music.”
It’s also intimate, confessional, and at times brutally frank about a wide range of issues in Crosby’s life, from making music to finding happiness to drug use and broken relationships.
But perhaps most of all, it’s a mesmerizing portrait of a brilliantly talented and deeply flawed artist who knows he’s near the end of his days and wants what so many of us desperately want when we reach that point — more time.
What’s it about?
The documentary follows what feels like a single, extended conversation held over weeks between Crosby, or “Croz”, and producer Cameron Crowe (“Almost Famous“).
Crowe follows the now-78-year-old musician as he embarks on a six-week multi-city tour, with Croz telling stories along the way about friends, lovers, fellow artists, drugs, seemingly anything that comes to mind.
Early on, Crowe asks Croz if at this stage of his life, with his mortality constantly in mind, he has regrets. Croz gives one answer to the question, but as the film unfolds it’s clear he has many.
The time he wasted in jail and being stoned. The friendships he let anger poison and destroy. The opportunities to make music with his peers lost.
It’s all here, but it’s not all gloom and sadness. There’s also the enduring love he shares with his wife, Jan, and his one, true love: music.
He knows his end is near. With eight stents in his heart and diabetes, it’s clearly only a matter of time.
But he’s just not ready to stop. Not yet.
Not just for fans
Yes, “David Crosby: Remember My Name” will certainly appeal to fans of Crosby and his music over almost six decades. The stories he shares about The Byrds, Bob Dylan, Joanie Mitchell, and of course Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young alone would be enough to endear the film to classic rock aficionados.
But the film’s appeal transcends that of other “behind the music” style documentaries thanks to Crowe’s questions that get at the heart of what’s still eating at Croz after all these years.
What’s also fascinating here is the other voices director A.J. Eaton finds to contribute their own recollections, and whose voices are missing. The number of living onetime friends with whom Croz created music history whose voices are only heard in earlier interviews or archival footage stands as further evidence of just how much damage Crosby did to his relationships.
It’s this element of Crosby’s story that, sadly, audiences may most identify with beyond the music. It’s those mistakes and Crowe getting Croz to talk about them with humor and candor that gets at the human being behind the icon.
Again, for fans and for those who lived through those 60s counter-culture years, “David Crosby: Remember My Name” should be essential viewing.
After all these years, he’s still a magnetic presence, whether performing or just talking, and his stories are powerful to listen to. The film could have been three hours of him just telling stories and it still would have been groovy.
But beyond the songs and the stories, Crosby’s own personal journey and his perception that it is near the end is compelling stuff. Others may face their twilight years with grace and acceptance, but not Croz.
He’s definitely not going quietly. After all, there’s more music to be made.
David Crosby: Remember My Name
Directed by A.J. Eaton.
Running time: 95 minutes
Rated R for language, drug material, and brief nudity.