David Van Cortlandt Crosby, August 14, 1941 – January 19, 2023
Story time, kids. Back in the day, VHS reigned supreme over the home video market, and it wielded it’s frequency modulated magnetic authority with an iron fist. Sure, better formats had come along. BetaMax was smaller and technically superior. LaserDisc was a shiny new option which promised, and lied, about lasting forever. But VHS conquered them all with lethal analog efficiency. When DVD came along, the powers that be knew that VHS was a force to contend with. The usual tactics weren’t going to work. So instead of selling us DVD players and just hoping we’d choose good looking movies, they gave them away with the players.
I bought a five disc carousel, because I like movies as much as I dislike getting off my fat ass to change discs. Inside were four DVDs. Along with one of the Austin Powers movies, an artsy high definition, slow motion film of international clips, and another DVD I can’t recall, I got Under The Covers. I didn’t watch it for months. The cover – quite ironically, it would turn out – looked like any random, cheaply produced public domain DVD cover you’d see in a dollar store. So I wasn’t interested. Then one rainy day I decided what the hell, I’d see what it was all about.
Holy fuckballs, my friends. Under The Covers is technically a documentary about the experiences of a photographer and an art director who created a surprising number of classic album covers. But over the course of the film they drive around and visit EVERY GODDAMNED ROCK LEGEND IN CALIFORNIA. Just a few are Jackson Browne, Ray Manzarek of the Doors, Don Henley and Glenn Frey of The Eagles, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, and of course, David Crosby.
Far from the pretentious aging hippie I expected to see, David Crosby was warm, personable, refreshingly honest, and most surprising of all, funny. He was a genuine pleasure to watch, and although I didn’t know a great deal about his music, I became an instant fan of the person I saw on screen. He seemed like someone I would have loved to meet. Not long afterward, I found, for an absolute steal, a pristine original copy of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s Déjà Vu, in all of it’s gorgeous, gilded, gatefold glory. It remains one of my finest musical acquisitions to this day, and every time I look at it I think of that grey, overcast day twenty odd years ago, sitting in the first apartment I ever lived in alone, watching David Crosby as he laughed and smiled with old friends over stories of their shared youth.