David Crosby - If I Could Only Remember My Name (50th Anniversary Edition)
- Release details
Los Angeles - Singer-songwriter David Crosby's solo debut, If I Could Only Remember My Name, was dismissed by critics upon its release in 1971. Over the years, however, appreciation has grown for the album's adventurous aesthetic, layered harmonies, and haunting lyrics about loss and confusion. The album, billed as Crosby's solo debut, was anything but a one-man project. Instead, it was one of his best collaborative works, featuring members of the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and Santana, as well as Graham Nash, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and others
If I Could Only Remember My Name turned 50 earlier this year, and Rhino is celebrating with a 2-CD set that includes the album lovingly remastered from the original analog tapes, accompanied by a bonus CD with a dozen unreleased demos, outtakes and alternate versions. The new remastering was overseen by Stephen Barncard, the original album's sound engineer, and restored and speed corrected using Plangent Processes. If I Could Only Remember My Name: 50th Anniversary Edition will be available now. Likewise, the remastered version of the original album will be released on 180-gram vinyl.
The liner notes that accompany the collection were written by Steve Silberman, co-author of Skeleton Key: A Dictionary for Deadheads. He writes, "...the stories behind the making of If I Could Only Remember My Name make it clear that the album's uplifting and redemptive qualities are the result of a tight-knit group of talented musicians who brought one of their own back from the brink. The album's poignancy was tempered by the fire of a life-changing tragedy."
When Crosby began recording the album in 1970, he was mourning the death of his longtime girlfriend Christine Hinton, who had died in a car accident a year earlier. At that time, Wally Heider Studios in San Francisco became a haven for Crosby, who remembers Jerry Garcia showing up almost every night. "There was this grin and then this look in his eye, and this fascination with the music," Crosby recalls. "Simple, not forced, graceful, fun, ubiquitous. It was a kindness, I'm pretty sure. Jerry never said that, never even hinted at it. Just, 'Hey, I hear you're doing something. What are you doing? Let's do something."
What they made was music that was embraced by later generations of singer-songwriters and cited as an early example of the "freak folk" genre. On the original, the nine songs explore a wide range of moods and textures. Crosby's swing and Garcia's sharp solos give "Cowboy Movie" its intensity, while "Song With No Words (Trees With No Leaves)" gently sprawls between choral folk and modal jazz. For "Orleans," Crosby transformed the French nursery rhyme, using the studio and its echo chamber to record a choir with his vocal harmonies
The second disc contains nearly an hour of unreleased recordings from the making of If I Could Only Remember My Name. Included is the album's first seed, which Crosby planted at Hollywood Recorders in Los Angeles on March 28, 1968. Working with producer Paul Rothchild, he recorded early versions of songs like "Tamalpais High (At About 3)" and others. These tracks are joined by several unreleased session recordings, including "Coast Road," "Dancer," and an alternate version of "Cowboy Movie" that features Neil Young soloing in place of Garcia.
A1 Music Is Love
A2 Cowboy Movie
A3 Tamalpais High (At About 3)
B1 What Are Their Names
B2 Traction In The Rain
B3 Song With No Words (Tree With No Leaves)
B5 I'D Swear There Was Somebody Here