David Crosby — the iconic singer-songwriter who reportedly died Thursday at the age of 81 after a long illness — leaves behind a mighty musical legacy.
The vast majority of that legacy is tied to the two legendary acts that he co-founded — the Byrds and CSN (Crosby, Stills & Nash). His work in those bands resulted in him becoming one of only a handful of two-time inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — first as a member of the Byrds in 1991 and then with CSN in 1997. (Other two-time inductees include John Lennon, Neil Young, Stevie Nicks and the recently departed Jeff Beck)
Crosby also fashioned an impressive solo career — highlighted by the release of the 1971 debut “If I Could Only Remember My Name,” which reached as high as No. 12 on the charts on its way to earning gold certification.
However, the success he achieved with the Byrds and, especially, CSN (and CSNY when Neil Young was added to the fold) has certainly (and understandably) overshadowed his solo career over the decades. That’s one of the reasons that it seems only right, as we mourn his passing, to shine a little light on the work he did outside of those legendary bands.
Here are 5 great Crosby solo songs (listed chronologically):
‘What Are Their Names’
No better place to start this list than with the star-studded debut, which featured a regular who’s who of late-’60s and early-’70s popular music — from Jack Casady and Joni Mitchell to Gregg Rolie and the Mickey Hart. This groovy psychedelic nugget — which kicks off Side 2 of the album — is particularly loaded with tuneful goodness, including Mitchell, Jerry Garcia, Neil Young, Grace Slick and Phil Lesh.
‘Lady of the Harbor’
Eighteen years after dropping his first album, Crosby finally returned with his second full-length solo offering, 1989’s “Oh Yes I Can,” featuring another impressive roster of guests stars as well as this touching ode to the Statue of Liberty.
“Thousand Roads” (1993) — Crosby’s third studio outing — was yet another star-studded affair. Notably, Phil Collins shared the spotlight on “Hero,” a track the Genesis leader co-wrote as well as contributed backing vocals and drum and keyboard work.
Crosby went more than 20 years between “Thousand Miles” and 2014’s “Croz.” His vocal work and songwriting are sharp throughout, but the album’s most memorable cut is arguably this warm and shiny folk-pop number co-written by James Raymond.
The title track to Crosby’s sixth solo outing is a softly glowing gem, co-written by Becca Stevens, who also added vocals and guitar to the track.