Here If You Listen David Crosby
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- 2Vagrants of Venice04:06
- 4Your Own Ride04:34
- 5Buddha on a Hill04:07
- 6I Am No Artist04:37
- 8Balanced on a Pin04:30
- 9Other Half Rule04:34
Info for Here If You Listen
In the last four years alone, David Crosby has released three acclaimed solo albums that prove his musical passion to be as powerful as ever. With Here If You Listen, the 77-year-old singer/songwriter continues that singular creative streak, delivering one of his most joyfully adventurous albums yet in a career that spans six auspicious decades.
On Here If You Listen, Crosby again joins forces with the three musicians who helped lend his 2016 album Lighthouse - and the tour in support of the album - its captivating grace: Michael League of Snarky Puppy, Michelle Willis and Becca Stevens. But in a purposeful departure from Lighthouse, Here If You Listen emerges as a highly collaborative effort, with all four artists trading off lead vocals and bringing their distinct songwriting to the mix.
“If leaving a group like Crosby, Stills & Nash was like jumping off a cliff, then finding the Lighthouse Band was like growing wings halfway down,” says Crosby. “These three people are so startlingly talented, I literally couldn’t resist making this album with them.”
Produced by League and co-produced by Stevens, Willis and Crosby, Here If You Listen bears a stripped-down, acoustically driven sound centered on the band’s stunning harmonies. But despite its sonic simplicity and minimal percussion, the album unfolds in infinitely shifting textures that find each musician tapping into their own carefully honed palette and idiosyncratic sensibilities. “The songs are taking on all of our collective influences, which is kind of crazy if you think about it—hearing the influence of Björk on a song with David Crosby lyrics, for example,” League notes.
With most of the album written collaboratively in League’s Brooklyn studio Atlantic Sound, Here If You Listen matches its intricate arrangements with lyrics both raw in emotion and rich in insight. Attuned to the chaos of the present day but visionary in perspective, the songs question, challenge, and demand self-reflection just as often as they illuminate and soothe.
On opening track “Glory,” Crosby and the Lighthouse Band instantly immerse the listener in the more enchanted world of Here If You Listen. With its bursts of lyrical wisdom by Willis (“The strength of the heart is in continuing”), the quietly luminous track blends its sublime harmonies with melodies that climb and wander and endlessly mesmerize. “Glory” also speaks to the band’s sharp yet playful sense of songcraft, as Stevens weaves in ethereal guitar harmonics inspired by an alternate definition of the title word (i.e., an optical phenomenon marked by halo-esque light).
With its serpentine guitar themes and otherworldly harmonies, both crafted by Stevens, the gently haunting “Vagrants of Venice” shows the inventiveness of Crosby’s songwriting and storytelling. “It came from a vision I had of Venice about a hundred years from now, when the water’s much higher and there are these half-destroyed buildings sticking out from the surface,” says Crosby of the fable-like track. “The leftover people who live there fish out the windows of the palace of the king, and burn ancient furniture and art to stay warm.”
In another flash of time-bending magic, Here If You Listen features two tracks crafted from recently unearthed, decades-old demos: “1974” (a shiningly hopeful tune) and “1967” (a delicate reverie the band adorns with urgent, choir-like harmonies that contains “the only time I ever had tape running when I actually found the melody to a song,” according to Crosby). “I think it’s so beautiful that both versions of David are on one song,” says Stevens of the former. “Singing along to this young version of him as if he’s still in the room was a miraculous occurrence.”
One of the most moving moments on Here If You Listen, “Your Own Ride” draws deep power from its cascading piano work (courtesy of Snarky Puppy’s Bill Laurance) and achingly tender lyrics written to Crosby’s son, Django. “I’ll never forget the feeling in my heart when David’s family heard it for the first time,” Stevens recalls. “There wasn’t a dry eye in the room. I sat there promising to burn the moment into my mind forever, in case I ever forget why I play music.”
Elsewhere on Here If You Listen, Crosby and the Lighthouse Band drift gracefully from songs like “I Am No Artist” (a gorgeously strange gem that threads Stevens’s hypnotic vocals through verse from poet Jane Tyson Clement) to “Other Half Rule” (a politically charged and pensive track on which League laments “Rocket men and little hands/Never taking time to listen”) to “Janet” (a Little Feat-inspired number where Willis warns against “pouring your sweet love/Into a bitter cup”). And on the album-closing “Woodstock,” the foursome gloriously revisit the classic anthem penned by Joni Mitchell and covered by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. “You don’t often get to sing a song by one of your heroes with another one of your heroes,” says League. “The fact that it speaks to this generation as much as it did to David’s makes it even more poignant.”
From song to song, Here If You Listen radiates the palpable sense of joy and wonder each musician brought to the album’s creation. “I love that it genuinely sounds like what happened: four people from different backgrounds with mutual respect and commitment to their work, coming together to create something they found meaningful,” says Willis. In many instances, League adds, that unity was bolstered by an unabashed openness on Crosby’s part. “I was really excited about David’s enthusiasm for using new textures in his music,” League says. “Each time I’d recommend something like an ARP synthesizer, or any other sound that isn’t normally associated with his musical past, I would get a ‘Let's do it.’ I kept waiting to get shut down, and never stopped being surprised when he said yes.”
For Crosby—who first crossed paths with League after discovering Snarky Puppy on YouTube, and later linked up with Stevens and Willis—that eagerness traces back to what he sees as an undeniable kinship between himself and his bandmates. “They’re all exactly like me—apart from family, music’s the only thing that matters to us,” Crosby says. “They’re willing to make sacrifices for it and dedicate their lives to it, and those are the only kind of people I really ever want to work with.” And while teaming up with one of the most legendary artists in all of rock & roll history was at times daunting for the other musicians, the collaboration ultimately elevated everyone involved. “There were definitely moments when I felt I couldn’t hold my weight,” says Willis. “I think we all felt that at times, but the camaraderie and energy of everyone else forced us out of self-doubt and into action.”
Now at work on the successor to Sky Trails (a 2017 album produced by his son, James Raymond), Crosby is pushing forward with the late-career resurgence that he regards as something of a charmed responsibility. “Music is a lifting force,” says Crosby. “It brings out the best in us—it makes us laugh, it makes us want to dance and love each other. So that’s my magic; that’s what I want to do in this world. I just want to make as much as I can for as long as I can, because I know that’s entirely my purpose.”
David Crosby, vocals, guitar
Michael League, bass
Becca Stevens, vocals, guitar
Michelle Willis, vocals, keyboard
Produced by Michael League
Co-produced by Crosby, Willis, and Stevens
Legendary singer-songwriter and social justice activist David Crosby is a two time Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, inducted as a member of both the iconic folk-rock band The Byrds — with whom he first rose to stardom — and the iconic Woodstock era-defining group Crosby, Stills & Nash.
A native Californian-and son of an Academy Award-winning cinematographer-Crosby originally intended to be an actor when he moved from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles in 1960. Music prevailed, however, and Crosby began his career as a folksinger, playing clubs and coffeehouses nationwide. Back in L.A. in '63, Crosby formed The Byrds with Roger McGuinn, Chris Hillman, Gene Clark and Michael Clarke, winning widespread recognition for his songwriting and charismatic presence. Driven by hits including "Eight Miles High," "Turn! Turn! Turn!," and a cover of Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man," The Byrds' signature electric folk-rock influenced countless musicians to come.
Crosby left The Byrds in 1967 to embark on a lifelong collaboration with Graham Nash and Stephen Stills. Renowned for vocal harmonies, stellar musicianship and timeless songs, Crosby, Stills, & Nash (CSN) have been called "the voice of a generation," and were GRAMMY-honored in 1969 as Best New Artist. The trio's self-titled debut album introduced classics including the Crosby-penned tracks "Guinnevere" and "Wooden Ships"—today, it is included on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Crosby continues to tour and record with CSN, as well as with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and as a duo with Graham Nash.
As a solo artist, Crosby debuted with the 1971 masterpiece If Only I Could Remember My Name, recently reissued as a two-disc set featuring a 5.1 mix, video footage, and other bonuses. David Crosby also performs and records with CPR, the jazz-flavored trio he formed in 1995 with his son James Raymond and Jeff Pevar.
Crosby's most recent release is 2004's Crosby-Nash, a 2-CD set with Graham Nash, their first as a duo since 1976's Whistling Down The Wire. Their debut LP together, '72's Crosby & Nash-featuring "Southbound Train" and "Immigration Man"-is regarded as one of the best side projects from the CSN&Y sphere. Their catalogue also includes 1975's Wind On The Water and the live gem Another Stoney Evening. Previously a CD-only release of a 1971 concert recording, the latter title is now available in digital and LP versions as the inaugural releases on Blue Castle Records, the independent label Crosby formed with Nash in 2011. Voyage, a 3-disc, career-spanning retrospective box set touching on all aspects of Crosby's oeuvre, was released in 2006.
Crosby is also the author of three books including Stand and Be Counted: Making Music, Making History/The Dramatic Story of the Artists and Causes That Changed America, which underscores his commitment to social activism, and belief that artists and musicians are potent agents for change. Crosby's two autobiographical volumes are Long Time Gone and Since Then: How I Survived Everything And Lived To Tell About It. The latter, per Entertainment Weekly, chronicles, "A fascinating life worthy of a sequel."
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