Q&A: David Crosby

Photo by Django Crosby

Interview by Megan Waldrep

We love David Crosby for many reasons, one being that he is a local with many memories rooted here (for example, he learned to sail in the Santa Barbara Harbor at the tender age of 11). Now, he’s touring his album Ask Croz, an interactive show where fans write in questions and he’ll answer during the show. Santa Barbara will get a chance to converse with the artist when he appears Tuesday, March 22 at the Granada Theatre.  

You lived in Montecito for a while and now over the mountains. How has the transition been to the valley?

I love it. Mind you, I’ve always loved living (here) all my life, going to school and everything in the Santa Barbara area. But the valley is really good, you know. Horse ranches and vineyards and not too many people and it’s beautiful. Especially when it rains.

I know you’re an avid sailor, I was wondering when the last time you sailed was? You sold your boat in 2011 I believe? 

It was a little later than that but I did. I had to, I just couldn’t keep it up. I haven’t been sailing since because it’s a little painful for me. I had that boat, lived on it, and sailed all over the world and I really loved it. So I’m sure I will again because I’ve been a sailor my whole life, but I think it’ll get less painful. I really did love it. I really did.

I’m not sure if you want to talk about the sailing experience but I am interested in knowing what was it about your first sailing experience that clicked for you? 

Well it’s a really odd thing. I started sailing when I was 11 years old in the Santa Barbara harbor in an eight and a half foot dinghy with the (Santa Barbara Sea Shell Association). It just really clicked for me and I had this uncanny sensation that I had done it before. I kind of knew how to do it as soon as I got in the little sailboat. It all made sense. I was pretty loose with it and I really loved it. I would do it endlessly. Even when the (SBSSA) wasn’t going on, I would get in a boat and chug around the harbor. I really fell in love with boats and sailing was sailing around the Santa Barbara harbor. Which there were no docks then, this was a long time ago. It was really fun.

You had your first concert for Ask Croz last night in Thousand Oaks, is that correct? 

Actually, it was the second one. The first one was in Orange County and they both went great! 

That’s awesome! I think it’s amazing how open you are to have fans ask you questions and you’re actually answering them on stage. What prompted you to be so transparent with the audience? 

It’s fun! I have a degree in “fun”. People are just fascinating and I have a great time communicating with the audience. One of the big secrets to being really happy and comfortable on stage is not to pretend you are something you’re not. Just get out there and be who you actually are and do what you actually do and do your best. But just go out and fun. That’s what I do and I really love it! I have such a blast, I can’t even tell ya…

 Oh man, that’s so amazing. What has been one of your favorite questions you’ve been asked so far?

(Laughing) One of the funniest is, “How did you get that beautiful mustache?”. I just say I woke up one morning and it appeared on my lip. Sometimes I’ll answer a question seriously, but mainly I use them as an opportunity to get a laugh. Laughing just makes everything better. 

After all these years, do you ever get nervous before a show?

Not really. I have a blast and I know that’s going to happen so I don’t really get nervous. 

So you have two albums coming out this year…

That is true. It’s a crazy thing to do and everyone tells me not to do it but I’m gonna do it anyway. 

What made you want to do two albums in one year?

Because I had two albums worth of songs. That’s all. If you got ‘em, you want to record ‘em because it’s fun.

Was there an overall theme that inspired you to write all of these songs?

No, they just come to me. It’s a gift I am intensely grateful for. I don’t have an overlying strategy or plan with it exactly. My plan is to serve the songs and what I’m supposed to do is try really hard to write, hone the song to the best level I can get them, record them the best I can, and have fun singing them on stage. 

This may be a hard question to answer, but do you have a favorite song that you’ve written? Maybe because of the process or where it was written…is there one that sticks out the most?

The way it works with songwriters is our favorite song is the always the most recent one we wrote. Otherwise, it’s like saying which one is your favorite child.

This is my favorite question to ask everyone, what advice would you give to your younger self?

Oh, that’s easy. That’s a snap. I would tell them not to do any hard drugs at all ever. I wasted so much time – I’m not talking about the moral or ethical questions, you know. That’s up to you – in the practical matter, I wasted years of time that I could have been using making music. And learning more and growing more and doing more positive stuff. I wasted time instead being wacko. It didn’t help anything for any reason at all.

Thank you for sharing that. I really appreciate it. 

It’s just the truth. I’m not on a crusade or anything. I just telling you what works for me. 

What would you like for our readers to know about the upcoming show at the Granada?

It’s gonna be good. The first two I just did were both just more fun than a basket of puppies. That’s just me. I got a PhD in “fun”. If I can do it, I will. 

Megan Waldrep is a freelance writer and columnist for the Santa Barbara Sentinel. She also writes under the pen name Elizabeth Rose for a dating column called I Heart.

See more interviews and check out her column here: www.meganwaldrep.com