If I Could Only Remember My Name (1971)

Following CSN&Y’s breakup, David Crosby released an album of airy, evocative songs and instrumentals that typify the time’s affection for spiritual, organic music. With support from the members of Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane (as well as former bandmates Graham Nash and Neil Young), Crosby is free to pursue the occasionally transcendent vocal harmonies of CSN&Y in earnest. As a result, If I Could Only Remember My Name feels most closely aligned with that band’s work, and is perhaps a better bet to please CS&N’s fans than anything from Nash or Stephen Stills. “Tamalpais High (At About 3),” “Laughing” and “Song With No Words (Tree With No Leaves)” are like lost CS&N songs. Similar to that band’s “Guinnevere,” the songs expand on a single riff that grounds the soaring, spirit-like vocals, creating a mesmerizing effect. There are grittier moments on here that recall the work of Neil Young, such as “Cowboy Movie” and “What Are Their Names,” but these social commentaries aren’t the real attraction. While it charted well, the album failed to produce a single that fans could rally around like Stills’ “Love The One You’re With” — the opening “Music Is Love” (cowritten by Nash and Young) is a CSN&Y outtake at best that recalls John Lennon’s “Give Peace A Chance,” while the fragmentary “Orleans” is pretty but too short (under two minutes) to make a viable single. If I Could Only Remember My Name remains a lovely and idiosyncratic album, handily the best of Crosby’s solo records. CS&N fans interested in the band’s extracurricular affairs would do well to start here.

The Songs
A1. Music Is Love (Graham Nash/Neil Young/David Crosby) (3:16)
A2. Cowboy Movie (8:02)
A3. Tamalpais High (At About 3) (3:28)
A4. Laughing (5:20)
B1. What Are Their Names (Neil Young/Jerry Garcia/Phil Lesh/Michael Shrieve/David Crosby) (4:09)
B2. Traction In The Rain (3:40)
B3. Song With No Words (Tree With No Leaves) (5:53)
B4. Orleans (Traditional Arr. by David Crosby) (1:56)
B5. I’d Swear There Was Somebody Here (1:19)

Songs written by David Crosby unless noted.

The Players
It’s a Who’s Who of Haight Ashbury featuring members of Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and Santana: David Crosby, Laura Allen, Jack Casady, Ethan Crosby, David Frieberg, Jerry Garcia, Mickey Hart, Paul Kantner, Jorma Kaukonen, Bill Kruetzmann, Phil Lesh, Joni Mitchell, Graham Nash, Gregg Rolie, Michael Shrieve, Grace Slick and Neil Young. Produced by David Crosby and engineered by Stephen Barncard; Henry Lewy provided additional engineering on track 1.

The Plastic
Originally released on elpee, cassette and 8-track on February 22, 1971 in the US (SD/CS/M8-7203), in the UK (Atlantic, 2401 005) and in Italy (Atlantic, W-40320); reached #12 on the US charts (RIAA certified gold on April 8, 1971) and #12 on the UK charts. The original elpee featured a gatefold, matte cover. Re-released on elpee in the US (Atlantic w/ green-orange label, SD 7203) and in the UK (Atlantic, K-40320). Re-released on double-elpee with Graham Nash’s Songs For Beginners as 2 Originals of David Crosby Graham Nash in Germany (Atlantic, 60 064). Re-released on CD on November 1993 in the US (Atlantic, SD 7203). Re-released in 2005 on 200g Quiex SV-P elpee and four one-sided 45rpm EPs in the US (Classic Records, SD 7203). Re-released on CD+DVD with one bonus track (“Kids And Dogs”) in 2006 in the UK (Rhino, 73204). Back cover photography, art direction & design by Gary Burden. Front cover photography by Robert Hammer, inside photographs by Henry Diltz.

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