David Crosby: As a Byrd, I’m feeling liberated.
He co-wrote The Byrds’ classic Eight Miles High and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s hippy anthem Almost Cut My Hair in the 1960s. But David Crosby, who will be 80 years old next month, has no plans to rest on his hirsute laurels.
For Free is the Californian singer’s fifth solo album, and it’s surprisingly upbeat considering Covid’s cancelled concerts nearly bankrupted him, and tendonitis has made playing guitar a chore for him.
For Free fulfills Crosby’s yearning for something to “make me feel whole,” as he puts it. It’s the antidote to pandemic misery, like sunshine on a rainy day.
On I Think I, Crosby sings, “I found my path.” He appears to have discovered happiness. The upbeat tone is evident in the album’s first tune, River Rise, which sees Crosby team up with Doobie Brothers singer Michael McDonald to confront mortality head-on.
He sings, “It’s out of my head/out It’s of my hands.” “It doesn’t matter to me/Not today.”
With David’s son James Raymond, the album was recorded, produced, and co-written, with much of it taking place in Raymond’s garage. As you can anticipate, the sound is West Coast Americana.
Rodriguez For a Night, co-written with Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen and veering into jazz fusion territory, and Raymond’s melancholy conclusion I Won’t Stay For Long are notable exceptions.
Crosby covers Joni Mitchell’s For Free on the title track, a simple duet sung with Sarah Jarosz, and shuffles into sci-fi on Secret Dancer, a song about a robot intended for war that decides night-time dancing is a better alternative after looking at human history.
David Crosby is still making wonderful music – for the love of it, if not for free – 57 years after the inception of The Byrds and 52 years after Crosby, Stills & Nash’s debut record.