David Crosby: ‘The FBI scare me more than Hell’s Angels’

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David Crosby in 2009

The legendary songwriter on Janis Joplin, being 'the voice of cosmic America' and Croz, his first solo album in 20 years. Paul Lester interviews:

Hello David, how are you?

I'm fine (1). I'm in California right now, out in the country, in a place called Santa Barbara.

How was your recent solo gig?

Great. I was very nervous because the first set was the new album (2) and you just don't do that – nobody takes that kind of chance. Amazingly, it worked.

On Croz you sing about "antithesis", "cognitive dissonance", "consciousness". Have you been raiding the Scrabble box?

I do play Scrabble, but no, I just use words I feel like and don't worry if they go over people's heads.

Everyone knows you took a lot of drugs (3). Did they have any beneficial effects?

When we started out we were just smoking pot, and we thought that was a great way to blow ourselves loose from the 50s. Of course, because it was illegal we had to go to criminals to get it, and as soon as there was another drug that the criminals could sell us, they did. And the dealers turned us onto cocaine. They said: "Don't worry, it isn't addictive." [He laughs.] As soon as we started doing that stuff it seriously had a bad effect on our writing. We thought drugs would open our heads up but the writing went to hell. I don't think there were any positive effects at all.

Wasn't If I Could Only Remember My Name (4), now regarded as a cult classic, created under the influence of heroin?

Yeah, but ...

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