×

David Crosby Says New Documentary ‘Remember My Name’ Is Like ‘Being Naked in Public’

“It’s not easy. It’s hard being naked in public,” David Crosby, the legendary troubadour of classic rock, reflected at Tuesday night’s New York City premiere of “David Crosby: Remember My Name.” “I don’t know what to do here. There’s no guitars, no drums,” he laughed.

Directed by newcomer A.J. Eaton and produced by the legendary Rolling Stone journalist and “Almost Famous” scribe Cameron Crowe, “Remember My Name” is an unblurred, deeply personal look at the long-troubled life of David Crosby, whose rise to fame as a founding member of The Byrds and tenure with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young is inexorably tied to a few of this country’s most transcendent artifacts of cultural and music history.

“They’ll see a real guy. They’ll see who I am. And I think it’s better that they see an honest portrayal than they see some kind of fake. At least they can learn from what they see,” Crosby told Variety on the red carpet. Following the artist along a 2017 tour, “David Crosby: Remember My Name” depicts the 77-year-old as he contends with the inevitability of death, and, through memory, traces the course of his 50-year career, portraying a musician whose battle with drug addiction, ego and anger fueled a volatility that’s cost all but the music he made. For Crosby, that’s the point.

“Documentaries these days are shine jobs. They generally do not tell you the truth. They tell you ‘Oh, I discovered California, and right after that I invented electricity, and aren’t I cute?’ And I’m not. I’m not cute,” Crosby said at the premiere. “I’m a difficult guy and I’ve been through a whole lot of stuff. I’ve done some good work. If you want to see a documentary, you want to know about that person. You want to know what’s going on in their head. You want to know what they care about. You want to know what matters to them. What they’re afraid of. Who they love. At least that’s what I want to see.”

Without Crowe, whose interviews (which span 40 years) with Crosby guide the audience through the artist’s life, it’s likely that the beating, vulnerable heart of Crosby’s story would be missing. “Once Crosby and Cameron started talking together, it was a whole new picture because of their rapport,” said director Eaton, who partnered with Sony Pictures Classics to make the film. “Cameron has known Crosby since he was sixteen years old, and he trusts him.”

Crowe first interviewed Crosby in 1974, shadowing a Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young tour for Crawdaddy Magazine. Crosby told the then 16-year-old: “My morals are questionable, that’s true, but what do you want? I’m basically a pretty simple dude. There’s only one thing I’m really good at and that’s singing harmony and writing in groups.”

“And he’s still that same person,” Crowe reflected on Tuesday night’s red carpet, held at the Roxy Hotel. “I remember him saying that. And there’s a lot of life that he’s lived in between then and now.”

A.J. Eaton, David Crosby and Cameron Crowe'David Crosby: Remember My Name' Documentary Screening, Arrivals, New York, USA - 16 Jul 2019
CREDIT: Gregory Pace/Shutterstock

Eaton’s film is deeply existential, perhaps in a way no rock documentary has been before. At its core are questions of mortality and death, of time lost and life lived too hard. Having ridden the insurmountable highs and subterranean lows of rock and roll, and having lost much and many to drug addiction, Crosby confronts a frighteningly mortal question in the film: why did he survive when others surely didn’t?

“He should have been dead,” Crowe said. “And I think sometimes when people go through a drug phase or a self-destructive phase — a part of them dies. They don’t quite resurrect again. They might be in better health, but there’s kind of a vacant, not present feel that you get. Not him. His central spirit has always been pure. Music is what he wants. He tells you in the beginning of the movie: ‘I would trade anything to keep my music alive.’ He’s still that guy, but he’s tempted death in every possible way since. And music is still his salvation.”

It’s a story best told right now, says Crowe. “Why not tell it while he’s alive and ready to talk?” he asked. “Let’s avoid the sanctimonious ‘Oh, we’ve lost a legend’ feel. The legend’s ready to talk. Right now. And he’s got a f—ing amazing memory. They may not be around forever. You may not be around forever. Get it down for history.”

Popular on Variety

More Music

  • Jimmy Lee

    Album Review: Raphael Saadiq's 'Jimmy Lee'

    In an oddly quiet way, Raphael Saadiq has been a towering figure in the R&B of the last 30 years. As a teenager in the mid-1980s, the Oakland native became the bassist in Sheila E.’s backing band and often found himself performing with Prince in the superstar’s frequent small-club jams. He then formed and fronted [...]

  • Warner Music Group Partners With Audiomack

    Warner Music Group Partners With Audiomack

    Warner Music Group announced it has entered a partnership with the music streaming and discovery service Audiomack, marking the platform’s first licensing deal with a major label. According to the announcement, the two companies will work together on content concepts and explore ways to break emerging artists, connecting music fans with rising talent before they [...]

  • Scooter Braun Congratulates Taylor Swift on

    Scooter Braun Congratulates Taylor Swift on ‘Brilliant’ Album and Campaign

    Two days after Taylor Swift fired off the latest salvo in her battle with Scooter Braun, the manager congratulated the singer on the campaign around her “brilliant” new album, “Lover,” which arrived last night. The message came after Swift said she will be re-recording songs from her first six albums, which are now owned by [...]

  • Review: Taylor Swift Finds Giddiness, Amid

    Album Review: Taylor Swift's 'Lover'

    Sitting in a hot tub on “Saturday Night Live,” Will Ferrell and Rachel Dratch stole the sobriquet “love-ah” from the lexicon of acceptable terms of endearment — and, by golly, Taylor Swift is reaching into that oily water and stealing it back. The word doesn’t sound unctuous on her lips as she repeats it in [...]

  • Travis ScottWireless Festival, Finsbury Park, London,

    Travis Scott Surprises Fans With Netflix Documentary Reveal, Pop-Up in Houston

    Travis Scott just revealed his new Netflix documentary in the most organic way possible: a social media post to his 18.5 million followers on Instagram. The photo consisted of him holding a series of VHS tapes, which turns out to be the trailer for his forthcoming documentary on Netflix titled “Look Mom I Can Fly.” [...]

  • Beverly Hills Realtor Accused of Stealing

    Beverly Hills Realtor Accused of Stealing From Usher, Adam Lambert

    A Beverly Hills real estate agent has been arrested on charges of stealing from the homes of celebrities, including Usher, Adam Lambert and “Real Housewives” star Dorit Kemsley. Jason Emil Yaselli, 32, is accused of encouraging an accomplice, Benjamin Ackerman, to enter homes during open houses in order to steal from them. Ackerman allegedly sold [...]

  • Taylor Swift Debuts 'Lover' Video, Sings

    Taylor Swift Debuts 'Lover' Video, Sings 'Archer' During YouTube Livestream (Watch)

    Taylor Swift went live on YouTube today to talk about the inspiration behind her new album “Lover,” dropping tonight. Those who tuned into the live event on Swift’s YouTube channel were virtual attendees of the “Lover’s Lounge,” which included an acoustic performance of her already released single “The Archer,” a Q&A sesh and a behind-the-scenes [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content