Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume. 34, Number 14. July 21, 1971
If Only I Could Remember My Name Atlantic
If Only I Could Remember My Name Atlantic.
Serenity - it's something found infrequently in popular music, being rather a characteristic of age and maturity. Very few performances are truly serene: the only notable example so far this year would be the soprano/ organ duct in Pink Floyd's Atom Heart Mother. One of the former leading groups in this field was the Byrds. While other people were marketing catchy commmercial material, this group was one that concentrated on the ethereal nature of music, that induced a catharsis so overwhelming it left you exhausted. It is this ability to propagate an emotional response that David Crosby brought from The Byrds to Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.
Since the release of the CSN&Y albums the members have indulged in a session of own-thing-doing. Neil Young produced his collection of classic delights After The Goldrush, and Steve Stills displayed himself in his all-stars assembly. For our pleasurable perusal is now presented David Crosby's gathering of friends on his debut album.
The lineup is rather impressive, although individual performing credits for the tracks are not given. Present are Graham Nash, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, also Jefferson Airplane (now Starship) personnel Grace Slick, Jack Casady, Paul Kantner, Jorma Kaukonen, with Grateful Dead members Jerry Garcia, Phil Lesh, Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart, not to mention Santana sidemen Gregg Rolie and Michael Shrieve. And a few others.
Most of the numbers are Crosby's own composition, and in the rest he had a share in the writing. All are characterized by a radiant but lethargic tranquillity - the CSN&Y immediacy is not as strong but the serenity I spoke of earlier is all there, in a collage of spiritual musical experiece.
Not all of Crosby's music is as ethereally light as the general CSN&Y-style numbers like Tamalpais High (At about 3) and Laughing on this album. Indeed, on Cowboy Movie he builds up the intensity until he ends up screaming the lyrics. However, the CSN&Y-like songs with their incredible lush blend of soft voices are wonderfully beautiful, emitting a slowly rotating charisma of sustained calm and peacefulness.
Traction In The Rain uses what sounds like an electrified autoharp to back Crosby's gently sensitive, lilting lyrics:
It's hard enough I know
To find the strength to go
Back to where it all began
It's hard enough to gain
Any traction in the rain
You know it's hard for me to understand
Hard to find a way
To get through another city day
Without thinkin' about
The intimacy achieved on this track is a superb example of the child-like simplicity and beauty of Crosby's music.
Song with No Words (Tree With No Leaves) is far from bare. Voices and piano interweave with a quiet guitar lead in a low relaxed mood. The traditional song Orleans is sung entirely in French with a couple of acoustic guitars as backing. The treatment is reminiscent of The Byrds.
To cmplete the album, I'd Swear There Was Somebody There, reverts to the wordless vocal treatment, unaccompanied. This mystical sound conjures up images of a choir of monks shuffling through an ancient monastery.
Serenity - elusive, undefinable, and greatly desired - includes the music of David Crosby in its realm.