Documentary on rock star David Crosby is powerful, sad

White-maned, white-mustachioed David Crosby.

“David Crosby: Remember My Name” is a compelling, brutally honest 95-minute film portrait of a musical giant, now 77, who could never quite get comfortable in his own skin.

The documentary biopic’s incredibly powerful.

And sad.

With closeups that dramatically show Crosby’s self-bewilderment, intensity and remorse.

Asked why he’s still alive — after “two or three heart attacks” and the insertion of eight stents, a liver transplant and a life jammed with addictions to cocaine and heroin — he says, while citing friends like Janis Joplin, Mama Cass Elliot and Jimi Hendrix who didn’t come close to making it to old age, he doesn’t know.

But, although he’s afraid of it, he’s pretty sure he’ll die soon.

The musical artist reminisces about his first shot of heroin being “great,” but claims he never could “get back there,” and insists that drugs aren’t meant to get users high.

Instead, he elaborates, they’re meant to anesthetize.

And he reports, somewhat cavalierly, that he’s overdosed a couple of times: “They had to bring me back.”

The documentary, which premiered at Sundance and opens in many theaters on Friday, skips over an unhappy childhood with a father who never once said “I love you” to the rock ‘n’ roll hall of famer’s successful founding of The Byrds (to get the attention of girls) and Crosby, Stills and Nash (whose second gig together was at Woodstock).

With stops along the way for a peek at his love affair with another famed but “damaged” singer-songwriter, Joni Mitchell; his love for a fan, Christine Hinton, who died in a Marin County traffic accident at age 21; and his marriage to Jan, who’s stuck by him for more than three difficult decades, teaching him along the way to love himself (despite his insisting he’d give up his family if necessary to keep making music).

He’s filmed bragging about having slept with a triple-digit number of women.

And dropping the names of The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Jerry Garcia (and Jim Morrison of The Doors, whom he labels “a dork”).

Not to mention Dennis Hopper using his persona as a template for the guy he played in “Easy Rider.”

The biopic also focuses on Crosby’s conspiracy theory about the Kennedy assassination and his opposition to the Vietnam War — and his being a fugitive from the law, surrendering to the FBI and being imprisoned in solitary for four months (during which time he finally got clean and sober after having never been on stage without drugs).

Not to mention his borrowing $25,000 from The Monkees stalwart Peter Tork to buy a sailboat to escape from a life that had become temporarily intolerable.

The documentary, directed by A.J. Eaton and produced by Cameron Crowe (whose interviews comprise a large chunk of the film), also touches on Crosby’s self-evaluations (such as “I don’t think I was a good lover…I was selfish…wacko”) while moving back and forth through time.

It also depicts an older if not wiser Crosby, white-maned and white-mustachioed, leaving CSN to do solo albums and tour.

And willing to talk about the group’s bitter breakup and “the biggest mistake I make — getting mad…You say stuff and do stuff that’s hurtful.”

Ultimately, the doc’s biggest impact stems from Crosby’s lack of contact with those with whom he collaborated on so many hit records: “All the main guys I made music with won’t even talk to me…[They] dislike me strongly.”

Sad, for sure.

About the Author

Woody WeingartenWoody Weingarten, who can be reached at www.vitalitypress.com/ or voodee@sbcglobal.net, can’t remember when he couldn’t talk — or play with words. His first poem was published in high school but when his hormones announced the arrival of adulthood, he figured he’d rather eat than rhyme. So he switched to journalism. And whadda ya know, the bearded, bespectacled fella has used big, small and hyphenated words professionally since jumpstarting his career in New Yawk City more than 60 years ago. Today the author of the book “Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner’s breast cancer” is also a reviewer-critic, blogger and publisher — despite allegedly being retired. During his better-paid years as a wage slave he was an executive editor and writer for daily and weekly publications in California, Florida, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York. He won writing awards for public service and investigation, features, columns, editorials and news. Woody also has published weekly and monthly newspapers, and written a national column for “Audio” magazine. A graduate of Colgate University, he owned a public relations/ad agency and managed an advertising publication. The father of two and grandfather of three, he and his wife, Nancy Fox, have lived in San Anselmo in Marin County for three decades. He figures they'll stay.View all posts by Woody Weingarten →