I admit that I was once one of the most floral of flower children in the late sixties. I have stories to tell my friends, but not today. Not today.
What I can say is that a heaping piece of my hippie pie belonged to the folk supergroup, Crosby, Stills and Nash (and sometimes, Young). These guys spoke to my heart. The harmonies on “Helplessly Hoping” still send chill bumps up and down my arms. And Stephen Stills’ guitar solo on “Treetop Flier” is second to none.
I’ve seen “the boys” (as Joni Mitchell calls them) about 20 times live. Maybe even more. While each of the band members feels like a friend of mine, one of them has always felt a little closer to me than the others, and that is David Crosby. He always feels like the wounded bird you wanted to care for.
But I am feeling differently about that these days.
David Crosby and his friends.
There is an Irish book by Brendan Behan that I love called, The Borstal Boy. The book chronicles Behan’s time served in the British juvenile detention system. In the book, Behan had a unique way of describing those people who became his closest friends behind bars. He’d call them his “china.” Not like the country, but the fine pieces of tableware in which you take special care. It’s an idea that has always stuck with me.
Over the years, Crosby lived a tumultuous lifestyle. He was addicted to heavy drugs and spent some time in prison. You should read his book, Long Time Gone, to learn about his crazy ride. Despite David’s turbulence, one guy always stuck by his side, Graham Nash.
So when the news that Crosby, Stills and Nash was breaking up — after 40 plus years — I was really bummed. But I soon grew heartbroken when I read that breakup was because Nash doesn’t “like David Crosby right now.”
Which brings me back to Behan. If there had even been an example of someone being someone else’s “china,” it was Nash to Crosby.
But this doesn’t sound like that anymore. Says Nash:
“He’s been awful for me the last two years, just f**king awful. I’ve been there and saved his f**king ass for 45 years, and he treated me like s**t. You can’t do that to me. You can do it for a day or so, until I think you’re going to come around. When it goes on longer, and I keep getting nasty emails from him, I’m done. F**k you. David has ripped the heart out of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young … How can I not be sad? Look at the music we probably lost. How can I not be sad about that? … The truth is, after being totally immersed in me and David and Stephen and Neil’s music, I’m done. I’ve had 10 years of it. Leave me the f**k alone. I need to concentrate on me now.”
It is rarely too late to repair your brand, even when you’re an aging rocker. When a brand needs repair, you must take the time to look at at what could be creating barriers in the market.
I wonder why David is creating the barriers he is right now — especially with those closest to him.
More than ever, David should heed the advice of his former counterpart, Stephen Stills, and “Love the one you’re with.” That’s a surefire first step in beginning a necessary brand overhaul.