If it’s true that cats have nine lives, that cat David Crosby should be on eight or nine.
He is the leonine figure of Crosby, Stills And Nash from 1968 and was the cat among the canaries, sorry, with The Byrds from 1964. He’s 79 this year and lived through things that have killed younger men. Yet he continues to record while becoming relevant again.
Crosby was the subject of a 2019 Cameron Crowe documentary and is about to be commemorated in a film and soundtrack, An Evening With David Crosby, that was shot and recorded in 1979.
After 40 years, Joseph Lynch’s mission to release his concert film as well as his stubbornness is going to be rewarded.
“I produced the concert myself with Zepher Promotions of, Mill Valley CA (Dean Potter, David Scot} and David Crosby and it was done with the full intent and co-operation of Crosby. ” Lynch says now. “He was paid to perform and allow me to produce the video of the concert for release in the home video market and he agreed to sign the proper paperwork which took me a while to get.”
In 1979, David Cosby was at the precipice. Beginning with Woodstock in 1970, Crosby Stills And Nash had been one of the most successful bands of the 70s and Crosby, solo or with close friend and erstwhile supporter Graham Nash, had recorded a few popular albums. The, he began his descent into hell, culminating in a nine month prison stretch in Texas in 1984. Crosby was portrayed as a drug addicted basket case in bad health. An autobiography, Oh Yes I Can, materialized a few years later, dealing with the drugs, the busts, his health, and rehabilitation. Here was a man ready to make amends and start over.
None of this is on Lynch’s video. On the tape Crosby stands alone on the Palace Of Fine Arts stage . Just him and an acoustic guitar. The intense look on his face, the narrowing of his eyes, say that these songs – Guinnevere, Long Time Coming, Delta, Joni Michell’s For Free – mean – a lot to him and take precedence over everything else.
“I never had the impression that David was a washed-up drug addict,” Lynch recalls. ” He may have had issues, but who hasn’t, and he was quite lucid, After meeting with him, he seemed like a nice guy.willing to work with me, so I took the chance while knowing instinctively that his days weren’t over. His signature is on two documents authorizing me to do what I’m doing He was advanced another $3,000.00 when he signed it in1980 while recording in Los Angeles. I flew in from San Francisico to get it signed. Good timing, This was arranged by David Scott his agent. I created and produced a weekly tour of SF called San Francisco Live that previewed live bands on the set during my show which was broadcast weekly on Kemo TV in ’78 and ’79 to 60,000 residents of San Francisco as a live tour of SF, with a host, weekly. I was looking for a theater to base the show when I was asked if I wanted to rent the theater by a board member which is why I ended up with the Palace Of Fine Arts.
Joseph Lynch has had a wildly varied career in marketing, TV production, promotion that ranged from following the exploits of hang gliders, to water sports to introducing James Brown to Ronald Reagan on Martin Luther King’s birthday. It was as an independent producer that he met David Crosby.
“First, I rented the Palace, Next, at a bank machine, I was approached by two agents from Zepher Promotions out of Mill Valley who were acting agents for David Crosby whereby I met David and personally invited him to perform for a video recording at the Palace of Fine Arts. I was literally almost handed this piece of work. David was a little out of practice after taking a hiatus from CSN for 2yrs. His performance was off on the first night. Being supportive, I hung in there, and he delivered a masterpiece on Saturday night.”
It was, Lynch claims,”Truly the first-ever video music recording in the music business.”
He was toting the Crosby tape when I first met him at a Mitch Ryder concert he was producing. He volunteered to produce shows at Expo 86 which led to him being hired as a volunteer to produce the Journey For Peace tour.
The second time I met Joseph Lynch, he wasn’t doing well.. He’d had an amazing few years in video, streamlining Videotrak, giving financial consultation both to individuals and corporations. He made a fortune, lost a fortune. Survived cancer. Grew spiritualy
But he still had the Crosby tapes.
“While recovering, I made it my business to get this done. I would estimate no less than 2,000 hours. have been invested just in the last two years by my associates. and myself. We had to start the process from scratch with the original masters,so no one has this.version. Due to previously edited masters going missing and being old while they were being stored here in Vancouver at a supposedly reputable post-production facility, I had no choice but to edit new masters from the original camera masters, same with the soundtrack.”
From his death bed in February, 2018, Lynch watched David Crosby’s return to relevance.
” Recently Crosby was at the top of his game as a solo artist, with four albums out and sold-out tours as a solo artist without any ties to CSN. He became a truly independent artist doing the same thing he did at the PFA, showcasing his solo act at a classic venue with a small audience which made him very happy, as he says in the video. He really needed this success to keep him aware that he still had it. This experience is something I believe that carried him through those dark times in jail because he went right back to the Palace Of Fine Arts format. After getting out of jail, he went straight, remarried Jan Dance, who knows this story, and made it his business to re-establish himself as a solo artist performing with the same format he discovered at the PFA.Now, with the renewed publicity along with the hard work performing, he re-established himself. He will not be forgotten.”
Crowe’s documentary is a reminder that David Crosby mattered once and now matters again, although it’s a qualified “matters”. David Crosby has resurfaced at a time in his life – maybe his ninth – when many of his contemporaries are retiring or are dead. Lynch’s film, therefore, is valuable archival material. If Crowe has made Crosby relevant, Lynch demonstrates why.
The outspoken egomaniac that is David Crosby’s lasting, popular image, doesn’t exist in his performance. Guinevere, Delta, etc., mean a lot to him and, if they have a message, he is trying to convey it. The early 60s jazz influences are there in his phasing and the sometimes tricky lyricism that seems natural to him. There is purity in his vocal, making it easy to hear how valuable he must have been as a harmony singer. And, of course, his presentation is formed by his years as a folkie.
“David, over the years, and his manager, having received tapes and agreements, previously and continually, encouraged me with statements such as ‘we will do something in the future’ said backstage at the Queen E. theater the last time CSN played 25yrs ago here in Vancouver.
“After that, he left CSN to establish himself as an independent artist, which happened up until the pandemic. Now he’s broke again with no tours. At no time did Crosby seem desperate or a washed-out rock star. As a matter of fact, after all his struggles he found new fame re-established himself as a solo artist and is unmatched by any other artist for his accomplishments No one else from this era has done this.”
“This concert, I believe, led to his success because it convinced him that he had a fan base as a solo artist. He was challenged by the performance and rose to the occasion and delivered a masterpiece after a very shaky performance the night before . He pulled it off when everyone else said he was through. But these recordings show a practically flawless performance. Please refer to the website as “Evening with David Crosby.com on Google and YOUTUBE Evening With David Crosby.com as the same for viewing samples of the current video work.
The reservations of the present day Crosby as well as the suspicions of his management, which is dealing with something that happened many years before its involvement, are offset by Lynch’s Crosby-like belief in himself and his work..
“I have contacted his current management which hasn’t responded except to pass on his comments about the YouTube video. I disregarded those comments This happened after I sent two emails to Crosby and management, personally went to the Neptune theater in Seattle in March 2020 unannounced, to renew contacts, and caught David on the way into the show and advised him that his tour manager was going to send him some information.
“Which I did. No response yet. As I said in the two recent emails to Crosby and management, .Things could change. This is an independent production with David’s approval from the start by a written contract. We have one of the best he’s ever done with all the major tunes he wrote or co-wrote including three that I recorded for the first time and later became CSN releases Delta, Distances, and Drive My Car.
“I am an entrepreneur, a pioneer, and a visionary which has been the motivating factor in preserving this recording.I think it’s beyond a doubt that this is him at his best at that time with the tunes that matter the most even today. This is now a Canadian production due to the fact all this work has been created right here in BC where I‘ve been a resident for 35 yrs. This recording and video footage are preserved, everything is digitized, with extensive work done on the image with recent technology and extensive editing on the soundtrack and the video.
“Recently surviving cancer, and still living the dream is because I live here and I’ve had the support so many others here in BC.. My struggles to get recognition and publicity of the product have resulted in a custom-built website where they can purchase the product and get the backstory. “