By David Crosby and Carl Gottlieb. First, a Crosby song to play while reading if you choose.
Man, I really disliked this book for the first 150 pages. I’m not sure why I kept reading. Those early pages covered his days growing up as a school boy, so it shouldn’t have bothered me so much. Heck, nearly every memoir starts out with the childhood. But I found him particularly cold and unlikeable as a youth, and that bothered me. I felt the written account was either lacking something to make me see his human side, or that he had more problems than just the well-publicized addiction of his adult years. I almost stopped and gave up on the book several times. But then I started to get into it, and eventually it became a compelling read for me.
The book was co-written in a unique format. It was a compilation of recollections from the people in David’s life, and then David’s take in his own words, on these same events. This was often confusing, in that it required effort to keep track of who was telling the story at any given time. But it was interesting, being able to read parallel versions of the same events; and sometimes hilarious, when two versions of the same story were wildly different. There were many moments when I was reminded of this old SNL skit.
He wrote about his beloved boat and his love for sailing. He wrote about the significant women in his life, the way he used them, and how they used each other, and the impact of a devastating personal loss. He wrote about his guns, band mates, producers and managers.
This video opens with a taste of his stage persona in 1967.
The hardest parts of the book came in reading about all of the times David shafted his friends who reached out with their own personal resources and support, with staggering generosity, to save him from his addiction. David has had some amazing, loyal friends in his life.
The most insightful parts of the book were his description of his progressing addiction from the addict’s point of view. Those stark truths would give anyone cause to reflect. The most fascinating aspects of the book were reading about all of the other famous rock and roll legends that David has worked with or hung out with in various settings throughout his career. This book covered a mind-boggling who’s who of 1960s and 70s California rock music, and in David’s case the connections were real.
This book was published in 1988, not long after David’s release from prison.
David has since written a second memoir that is still on my to-read list.