Top 10 David Crosby Songs

One of rock’n’roll’s most enigmatic figures, David Crosby first caught our attention as a member of Byrd’s, arguably one of the greatest American bands of all time. He only stayed a few short years before moving on to greener pastures with friends Stephen Stills and Graham Nash.

Whether solo or as part of a group, there was no doubt about David Crosby. His vocal talents alone would earn him a boatload of accolades, but throw in some great songwriting and a colorful existence and you had one of music’s most treasured icons. We may not have always applauded his life decisions, but we certainly pay tribute to his music with our list of the 10 best David Crosby songs.

  • 10

    ‘Almost cut my hair’

    Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

    From: ‘Deja Vu’ (1970)

    While the idea may seem like a weird nostalgic moment now, the idea of ‚Äč‚Äčlong hair as a political statement was certainly in full bloom at the time of the writing of this song. The first entry on our list of the 10 best David Crosby songs, “Almost Cut My Hair,” served as his mission. Crosby defiantly sings of rising paranoia and letting his “freak flag fly,” both sentiments shared by many confused youth of the era. The song is a slow burner that features some classic guitar work from Neil Young and Stephen Stills.

  • 9

    ‘What happens?!?!’

    The Byrds

    From: ‘The Fifth Dimension’ (1966)

    “What happens?!?!” was one of Crosby’s first contributions to the Byrds catalog, and it’s a dud. A song of seemingly general confusion, Crosby seems to question everything around him while Roger McGuinn‘s psychedelic 12-string guitar weaves in and out creating an almost disorienting effect. The song is short and without any real verse/chorus distinction, which adds to the mood created.

  • 8

    ‘Wooden ships’

    Crosby, Stills & Nash

    From: ‘Crosby, Stills & Nash’ (1969)

    “Wooden Ships” is just one of the many classics to be found on the debut album from Crosby, Stills & Nash. The song was written by Crosby along with Stephen Stills and Paul Kantner from Jefferson Airplanewho also recorded the song (on their 1969 Volunteers LP). Musically, it has a subtle groove and some dynamic playing, where Stills’ guitar solo in particular shines through. According to Jefferson Airplane bio had a revolution the song harks back to a cruise Crosby took shortly after being ousted from the Byrds in 1968. “I had this set of changes that I’d been playing for a long time that I really, really loved,” Crosby recalled. “We were sitting in the main cabin of the boat and we started playing that set of changes and we wrote that song together.” He told later Rolling stones that “it’s one of my most favorite Crosby, Stills & Nash songs. I really love what it says, I really love how unusual it is, and I really love the harmonies. It’s definitely a science-fiction- song, without a doubt.”

  • 7

    ‘All have been burned’

    The Byrds

    From: ‘Younger Than Yesterday’ (1967)

    This is one of the Byrds’ darker songs, and one of Crosby’s finest with the band. “Everybody Has Been Burned” is a somber realization of life brought forth amid tinkling guitars, haunting vocals and minimal percussion. This beautiful song from their 1967 LP Younger than yesterday was also released as the b-side to their hit “So You Want to Be a Rock and Roll Star” prior to the LP.

  • 6

    ‘Deja Vu’

    Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

    From: ‘Deja Vu’ (1970)

    Jazz as in its feel and mood, the title cut off Deja Vu is an instant ear-turner and a great centerpiece for our list of the 10 best David Crosby songs. Unleashed in waltz time while the vocals bounce, they counteract the rhythm in a striking way. The song gradually flows into a softer, slightly psychedelic spirit, with some nice Stills guitar solos played out over the “we’ve all been here before” mantra.

  • 5

    ‘Guinevere’

    Crosby, Stills & Nash’

    From: ‘Crosby, Stills & Nash’ (1969)

    “Guninnevere” was one of the most beautiful songs ever written by David Crosby. Found on the very first Crosby, Still & Nash album, it rings with pure warmth and gentle beauty. The amazing harmonies the trio were capable of are front and center here, with minimal instrumentation. Although ostensibly about one woman, the song is actually about three different women from Crosby’s past. “It’s a very unusual song, it’s in a very strange mood with strange time signatures,” Crosby shared Rolling stones. “It’s about three women that I loved. It might be my best song.” The song got a true believer out of Graham Nash: “It was one of the things that made me really realize that this man was a deep thinker and a great musician.”

  • 4

    ‘Why?’

    The Byrds

    From: Single (1966)

    Found on the back of Byrd’s seminal “Eight Miles High” single, it would have been on our list, but Crosby’s involvement in the writing has always been debatable. “Why” was born out of David Crosby’s interest and enthusiasm for Ravi Shankar’s music. Within the song, his idea was to replicate the drone of Indian music in a pop context. The solo break is all played on one chord, with McGuinn doing his best guitar-as-sitar solo. There are two versions of the song that were released, one on the band’s Fifth Dimension LP, and the other on the single. This single version has more energy and drive.

  • 3

    ‘Long Away’

    Crosby, Stills & Nash

    From: ‘Crosby, Stills & Nash’ (1969)

    One of many classics found on the first CSN album (see Nos. 8 and 5 on our Top 10 David Crosby Songs list), “Long Time Gone” is very much of the era. “You have to speak out against the madness, you have to speak your mind if you dare,” Crosby says, referring to the uncertainty of the times. “Long Time Gone” was written the night after the assassination of Robert Kennedy. “I started to feel overwhelmed,” Crosby said Rolling stones. “It seemed like it was a vote by bullet. It seemed like it didn’t matter how good a person we could find to stand up as an inspiration and a leader for good, that the other side would somehow win by simply shooting them down.” The song, which also featured in the opening scenes of the Woodstock movie, contained some of the finest harmonies the trio ever laid down.

  • 2

    ‘laughing’

    David Crosby

    From: ‘If Only I Could Remember My Name’ (1971)

    Crosby’s first solo album stands as one of his greatest achievements. Armed with an amazing selection of players, including members of Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane, If only I could remember my name put Crosby fully on the screen, without pretense and shining clear. “Laughing” included one of his finest vocal performances, full of genuine emotion and spirit. Add a nice pedal steel guitar from Jerry Garciarhythm section courtesy of the Grateful Dead, and some ethereal harmonies from Graham Nash and Joni Mitchelland you have a really beautiful song.

  • 1

    ‘Lady Friend’

    The Byrds

    From: Single (1967)

    Crosby managed to dish out some of his best material yet during the final days of his involvement with the Byrds. Actually this song is from their fifth album, The infamous Byrd Brothers, may be his finest pop song. Released as a single in the summer of 1967 before the LP’s release, “Lady Friend” only reached No. 82 on the pop charts and was seen as a complete failure at the time. Not long after, Crosby was kicked out of the band for various reasons. One of the most confusing examples of a song that should have been huge but for some reason failed miserably. One listen will sell the uninitiated on its greatness.

Related Posts