At 76 years old, David Crosby is a social media maven whose recent Twitter takedowns of President Trump and Ted Nugent have offered beacons of light and laughter in dark times. Crosby’s interviews have the same blunt force. And as the singer and songwriter prepares to embark on a new round of tour dates, the multiple Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, with both the Byrds and Crosby, Stills and Nash, spoke with Variety about the upcoming mid-term elections, a rumored reunion of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and why he continues to tour while some of his contemporaries are saying goodbye to the road.
Music and touring have been very much shaped by the current political climate. Being one of the more outspoken artists, do you feel it’s important to be out there and share your message?
It’s a daunting prospect, but I like touring, and I like being very direct about how I feel. I sing this song every night called “What Other Name” that’s about ownership of our government. I guess I’m stirring up a little trouble, but I think there is a real problem in the United States and it stems from ownership of our Congress. That’s how we wound up in the situation we’re in. Congress wasn’t representing anybody. Everybody wanted to toss a grenade, change things, then they tossed the wrong grenade. This guy who’s the president now is a horror show. He’s a badly behaved child. I think the idea of democracy is the most powerful one; in terms of ways for people to live together. I believe representative democracy is the best idea we ever had for government, but I don’t think we have one right now. We have a corporate-ocracy, it doesn’t represent the people of the United States of America and that disturbs the hell out of me. So yes, I do shoot my mouth off. I’ve got a lot of [followers] on Twitter and a couple of million on Facebook and I like talking to people. But I’m not afraid to say what I think.
We’re seeing a new wave of activism with the kids in Parkland, Florida following the Feb. 14 shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School. Does that give you hope?
Yes. I am feeling more optimistic and it’s because of those kids. Those kids are convinced they can make a difference and they’re going to. They’re absolutely fearless and they’re wonderful. They’re the hope of this country. They’re standing up for the truth and they’re holding politicians accountable in spite of the fact that what the NRA has paid politicians is crazy. What is it, $33 million they put into their pockets this year? Their congress is bought and these kids are not going to stand for that. They are going to raise hell and I am going to help them.
What is the next step in this activism?
The next step is impeaching the president. I think you’d see fighting in the streets, but it may come down to that. There are a lot of kids who are convinced it would be a really great country if we took the entire west coast and moved to Canada.
Are you of the opinion you’d like to see the Cal exit?
Yeah, I’d love it.
What would the national anthem of California be?
[Laughs] I have no idea. It would be a great contest. Let’s open it up and see what everybody votes for. “California Dreaming” probably.
Of the songs on “Sky Trails,” which was released last year, what are you looking forward to playing live?
We don’t know exactly what we’re gonna play before we get there. It changes every night. But we will do some of those songs because we love them and that band is the band I’m going out with next.
Are there older songs in your canon that take on a renewed sense of urgency?
“For What It’s Worth” has been going down really well and if we were still doing Crosby, Stills and Nash, I think that would be one of our biggest songs for that. “For What It’s Worth” is a great protest song. “Young people speaking their minds/Getting so much resistance from behind” is exactly on point and I think we would be singing it if we were together.
What is the likelihood that will happen?
For Crosby, Stills & Nash, absolutely no likelihood at all. For Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, no likelihood, but that’s the one I would do.
Why CSNY and not CSN?
I don’t want to explain it.
“For What It’s Worth” came out in 1967. What does that say about the progress — or lack thereof — that the country has made in 50 years?
That’s due to this president being an absolute scab of a human being. He has encouraged gay haters and racists in this country to think it’s okay. That’s a really nightmarish thing to have happen. We thought we were making progress in this country. We thought, “Wow, look at this wonderful guy, Barack Obama, who is now our president. He’s a black guy, really intelligent and a class act. We love him and we think it’s going forward.” [Then] we get this buffoon of a president who thinks women are just pussies to be grabbed. A disgusting human being. It is discouraging. We really did think we were making progress. We will again when we get rid of this bunch. We have to fix congress. We have to beat them in the next election and take Congress back, and then we can start fixing America.
David Crosby tour dates:
May 19 – Tulsa, OK – Club Brady
May 20 – Dallas, TX – Granada Theatre
May 22 – Austin, TX – Paramount Theatre
May 24 – New Orleans, LA – Joy Theatre
May 26 – Orlando, FL – Plaza Live
May 27 – Ponte Vedra Beach, FL – Ponte Vedra Concert Hall
May 29 – Charleston, SC – Charleston Music Hall
May 31 – Charlottesville, VA – The Paramount Theatre
June 2 – Glenside, PA – Keswick Theatre
June 3 – Gettysburg, PA – Majestic Theatre
June 6 – Vienna, VA – Wolf Trap Centre for the Performing Arts
June 7 – West Long Branch, NJ – Pollak Theatre – Monmouth University
June 9 – Westhampton Beach, NY – Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Centre
June 10 – Hartford, CT – Infinity Music Hall
June 12 – Ridgefield, CT – Ridgefield Playhouse
June 14 – Lowell, MA – Boarding House Park
June 16 – Lenox, MA – Tanglewood
June 17 – Morristown, NJ – Mayo Performing Arts Centre
June 28 – Estes Park, CO – The Stanley Hotel
June 29 – Morrison, CO – Red Rocks Amphitheatre