“DAVID CROSBY: REMEMBER MY NAME” My rating: B- (Opens Sept. 6 at the Glenwood Arts)

95 minutes | MPAA rating: R

Published September 5, 2019 by Robert W. Butler at Butler’s Cinema Scene

As a founder of the Byrds and a long-standing member of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young,  David Crosby can claim to be rock ‘n’ roll royalty.

His musical accomplishments, though, are overshadowed by a personal history that features three heart attacks, a liver transplant, diabetes and epic drug addictions which in 1983 earned him a five-years sentence in a Texas prison.

Now 78 years old, estranged from his former bandmates  and still touring to keep a roof over his family’s head, Crosby looks back on his life and career in “David Crosby: Remember My Name,” the first feature documentary from director A.J. Eaton.

The film has a solid first hour, then loses focus and sort of drifts off in its final 30 minutes.

Still, there is much to admire here, for this is no warm dip into fuzzy nostalgia. The white-haired Crosby comes off as brutally honest about his failures: “Big ego. No brain.”

He was, he admits, a massive jerk.  Only after his legal comeuppance forced him to go cold turkey in a jail cell did he get his life in order; he reports that until his stint in prison he had never performed straight.  Not once.

In matters of sex, he recalls, “I was a caboose to my dick…there are borders I’ve crossed you’ve never heard of.”

The son of Hollywood cinematographer Floyd Crosby (“High Noon”), young David grew up in an emotionally stifled environment.  Rock music was his salvation.

The doc features vintage footage of the mid-60s Byrds in performance; Crosby’s main contribution was an unerring ear for vocal harmonies.

On the downside, his songwriting was so-so; worse, he insisted on using the band as a platform for his own political posturing (including on-stage harangues about JFK assassination conspiracy theories). This practice so alienated his fellow Byrds that they eventually fired him. (Some of these scenes from Crosby’s life are told through animation.)

Still, as a Byrd he hung with the Beatles and claims to have contributed to a major moment in rock history.  After hearing the Byrds’ electrified version of his composition  “Mr. Tambourine Man,” Bob Dylan, in Crosby’s words, “immediately went out and bought an electric guitar.”

He discusses his romance with Joni Mitchell (“The best singer songwriter of all of us, hands down”), his disdain for the Doors’ Jim Morrison (“What a dork”) and says he was the model for Dennis Hopper’s character in “Easy Rider.”

While former Byrds Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman appear on camera to discuss their old bandmate, Crosby has so alienated CSN&Y members Stephen Stills and Neil Young that they refuse to talk about him.  Graham Nash, however, maintains a relationship with Crosby…perhaps because their vocals complement each other so beautifully.

In recent concert footage Crosby proves he still has his voice.  But there’s something vaguely sad about an old man schlepping around the country practicing a young man’s game.  But what else can he do?

Asked by the filmmaker to choose between a homebound life of domestic bliss or a continuation of his career, Crosby winces and answers: “Music…it’s the only thing I’ve got to offer.”

| Robert W. Butler

Read the original review and more reviews at Butler’s Cinema Scene

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Robert W. Butler for 41 years reviewed films for the Kansas City Star. In May 2011 he was downsized.

He couldn’t take the hint.

OKAY, so here’s the deal. I write mostly about movies. One good thing about no longer writing for the paper is that I’m free to ignore the big dumb Hollywood turkeys that don’t interest me. So don’t expect every blessed release to be written about here. Many films aren’t worth the effort. Besides, at my age it’s not the $8. It’s the two hours.

UPDATE: OCTOBER, 2014: Well, here’s an interesting twist. The Star wants me back as a freelance film reviewer!!! Apparently enough time has passed that they cannot be accused of firing me so that they can rehire me at a fraction of my original pay (I gather the federal government frowns upon that practice.) So from now on I will probably be reviewing a movie a week for the newspaper.