Directed by: A. J. Eaton
Featuring: David Crosby, Jan Crosby, Cameron Crowe, Graham Nash, Stephen Stills, Neil Young
As a kid, my family and I would travel cross country from Milwaukee to Phoenix during our spring breaks. Those trips are a part of the reason why I like long road trips.
They’re an even bigger reason for my being a fan of music acts like the Eagles, Kansas, James Taylor and Crosby, Stills and Nash (there’s probably even a tune when Neil Young was a part of the quartet.) I confess to not knowing much about the personal lives or the struggles each of the people who made up these acts had.
Documentaries about the lives and times these musicians lived in, or in David Crosby’s case, still lives in are fascinating to me because of my constant love of human interest stories. A. J. Eaton’s “David Crosby: Remember My Name” fits that bill rather effectively.
The doc, which takes place during a 2018 concert tour starts at Crosby’s home. The man, who has had his share of run ins with the law, with drugs and with life itself, isn’t too keen on leaving his wife and their beautiful home, when he acknowledges that he still needs the gigs to pay for their sprawling and beautiful ranch.
A quick search of Eaton’s IMDB profile reveals several shorts credited to him, so it appears that “David Crosby: Remember My Name” is his first feature-length documentary, but it doesn’t necessarily feel like his first documentary. There’s a rich history as Crosby takes us on a tour of spots that have become historical markers in his life; the home where he and his first wife lived, coincidentally the home where CSN was first formed too. Crosby goes on to talk about why he lived in the Hollywood Hills in the first grocery store to populate the area.
What riveted me with his life is how much love he had for what surrounded him; people, places, but never things. What angered me was how much he threw most of it away on senseless and arbitrary actions on his part to destroy those relationships around him.
The documentary also painted him as a man in continual distress, even to this point on his life and the most remarkable perspective is his questioning why he is still here, even after a bout with Hepatitis C, a liver failure and transplant, and his ongoing issues with diabetes. Eaton helps to define all of this through Crosby’s wife, Jan. There is love between the two of them: you can see Crosby’s passion for her, for everything he does.
Including creating rifts and hardships for others in his life.
Crosby’s discussion about how Graham Nash and Stephen Stills came in to his life, about how they were able to harmonize together, like no one had ever heard, was painful to hear in some respects because of their falling out, which Eaton uses archival interviews with Nash, Stills and Neil Young to carry the throughline of the documentary.
In that throughline though, we discover a very stubborn man. Someone whose thirst for gifting the world with music, his music, was the only way, driving a wedge between those he cared for and himself. His stubbornness was also his passion and the need to constantly fuel that passion with drugs and love, leading to personal tragedy and jail.
Eaton delves into Crosby’s love for sailing, with Crosby talking about the schooner he bought named Mayan. Crosby wrote several of the songs eventually performed by CSN/CSNY while he was out sailing. One gets the sense that sailing for Crosby was almost as powerful as any drug he could have ingested.
All of this leads us back to the documentary’s coda; there is still passion and love for what Crosby does. There is regret for the things that happened in his life, the relationships he’s broken. It certainly didn’t feel like he took responsibility for those break-ups.
As riveting and as informative as “David Crosby: Remember My Name” is the man still feels like he’s searching for something that this documentary can’t answer, except to say that passion fuels the journey forward, even if we never know the destination.
3 out of 4 stars