If you want a short, flavorful, totally on-the-money taste of what watching certain portions of David Crosby: Remember My Name may (or may not) feel like, please watch the below video. Produced by Rolling Stone and titled “Ask Croz,” it’s just four minutes and 24 seconds of Crosby answering fan questions. What makes it whoa-level is the naked, quietly scalding, take-it-or-leave-it honesty, which is almost always abundant from Crosby but in this instance is also present in the questions.
Like a 16 year-old girl asking about her fear of death and existential gloom. Or a person worrying about a family member, incarcerated on a “bullshit” drug charge, being able to handle prison life. Or a guy who’s angry about the fact that when he and a musician friend are competing for the same girl “she always goes home with him.” Or a general question about fundamental values and what it all feels like to have death patiently waiting on your doorstep.
This warts-and-all candor is also what makes A.J. Eaton and Cameron Crowe’s documentary (Sony Pictures Classics, opening today) such a profoundly rich and transcendent film.
I’ve said this over and over but it really is the shit, this film. A lion-in-winter reflection piece…hugely emotional, meditative…about the tough stuff and the hard rain, about hurt and addiction and rage and all but destroying your life, and then coming back semi-clean and semi-restored, but without any sentimentality or gooey bullshit. An old guy admitting to each and every failing of his life without the slightest attempt to rationalize or minimize. Straight, no chaser. And hugely cleansing for that.
This movie, I swear, delivers one of the best contact highs I’ve ever experienced. By the end it makes you feel lighter, less weighed down, even if you’re 18 or 37 or whatever. We all have stuff churning inside, and we all need catharsis. It’s very rare when a film offers you this for the mere price of admission.
From Ella Taylor’s NPR review: “With Crosby, redemption is always a pending thing. Riddled as he is with the life-threatening illnesses that often catch up with hard living, Crosby knows he’s likely to die soon with a lot of loose ends untied and emotional debts unpaid. That’s the main thread in a film that keeps other talking heads to a minimum and either lets or makes Crosby talk.
“Whichever it is — his off-screen interlocutor is the rock journalist and film director Cameron Crowe, who started writing about Crosby when he was sixteen and now counts himself a friend — the musician needs little prodding to unburden himself of fear, guilt and regret over all the misspent years.
“Passionate, wry, often bellicose, but always a candid and pithy storyteller, the now-whiskered Crosby often seems to be writing his own self-lacerating obituary. He yearns for forgiveness from the countless women he hurt and longs — with [some] ambivalence — to reconcile with his former band members, none of whom speak to him to this day.
“The unvarnished tour worth taking in this film is Crosby’s brutal account of his junkie years, the crazed conspiracy theories he peddled to whomever would listen and many who wouldn’t (a former band mate remembers him as ‘insufferable’ and Crosby doesn’t quibble), the women he let down and, worse, pulled into his own addictions.
“When Crowe suggests turning up on Neil Young‘s doorstep to say sorry, Crosby’s helpless answer may make you weep.”