David Crosby’s days on the road are over. The 80-year-old musician declared in a newly published interview that “I’m too old to do it anymore. I’m too old to do it anymore. I don’t have the stamina; I don’t have the strength.”
The revelation came as an almost casual aside in, of all things, a meeting with a high school class. Crosby had agreed to be interviewed by a journalism class at Golden High School in Golden, Colorado, taught by Mark Brown, the former music critic for the Denver newspaper the Rocky Mountain News.
When one of the students asked, “Are you going to tour anymore?,” Crosby said flat-out, “No.” He elaborated: “I’m not, because I’m 80. It’s because I’m old. Being on a bus tour is a daunting task. It’s very hard. It takes it out of you.”
Crosby also said that coming down with COVID had been tough on him. “It has been awful. COVID is a very weird disease. It makes you feel absolutely freaking awful. It has been thoroughly unpleasant…it’s no fun at all. You want to avoid it if you possibly can.”
The musician was also his usual blunt self in answering other questions from the class, like one about why he has been so prolific in the recording studio in recent years, which he said was also age-related.
“I’ve been making records at a startling rate. I’ve made five albums in six, seven years. It’s an absurd rate to be cranking albums out,” he conceded. “The reason being is that I’m gonna die. I mean, we all… everybody dies. I’m sure someone told you. And I want to crank out all the music I possibly can before I do. Now I’m 80 years old so I’m gonna die fairly soon. That’s how that works. And so I’m trying really hard to crank out as much music as I possibly can, as long as it’s really good… I have another one already in the can waiting.”
The last full show that Crosby is on record as having done on the Setlists.fm site was pre-pandemic, at Red Rocks Amphitheatre on Sept. 17, 2019, where he opened for Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit. But he’s still up for guest appearances: Crosby sat in for a couple of numbers on Isbell’s set in Santa Barbara in February of this year.
The bulk of the interview conducted by the high school class can be read at the Best Classic Bands website, here. Crosby telling the class he was done with touring was broken out into a separate story, here.
Crosby’s retirement from the road is not wholly unexpected to those who follow him closely. A Bluegrass Situation profile of the artist published in 2021, when he was promoting his “For Free” album, noted: “He says that he likely won’t tour again, and with tendonitis in both hands, he expects he won’t be able to play guitar anymore within a year — a great shame as his guitar playing, with its intricate jazz voicings and inventive tunings, is as stunning as his singing, if not as widely recognized.”
In the interview with the Colorado high school class — which Brown said he pursued with the musician for some time before Crosby finally agreed — the always-quotable veteran spoke up on other issues, like his “feud” with Phoebe Bridgers after she smashed a guitar on “SNL” last year.
“I called out Phoebe Bridgers because it was silly. She was doing something silly,” he said. “She’s trying to be authentic and cool and do something that would be chilling. Her music is actually pretty good, but breaking the guitar up is just stupid. It’s just show business for the sake of show business and it has nothing to do with the song. It wasn’t communicating anything worthwhile… I don’t think it was smart when Hendrix did it, and if he can’t do it, she can’t do it.”
There was only one question the class posed that he completely demurred on: the value of his recent song publishing catalog sale. “The amount? Oh, I’m not gonna tell you that.”
But he did elaborate on his reasons for selling: “Spotify doesn’t pay us. I had two ways of making a living, touring and records. Spotify comes along, and I don’t get paid for records anymore. That’s half my income, OK? So I think, well, I should be grateful that I can still play live and pay the rent and take care of my family. And then along comes COVID and I can’t play live. The reason I sold my collection is that I didn’t have any other option. None. Zero.”