David Crosby has proudly spent years admitting that he has to preemptively apologize to anyone who comes up with a story of having met him during the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s. A documentary about all of those moments would be pretty great. Remember My Name is a little different, but still provides plenty of entertainment as the veteran member of The Byrds and Crosby, Stills Nash & Young recalls low points while still trying to exhibit some modesty that he just can’t seem to maintain with his estranged ex-bandmates.
“I need to tour to buy groceries and pay my mortgage,” he admits early in the film, adding: “I’m the guy in CSN&Y that’s never had a hit.” An early tour down Sunset Boulevard, though, shows Crosby still has some crankiness to offer while looking back at his life – goofing on Jim Morrison, and later complaining about an ungrateful Joni Mitchell while throwing in an endorsement of good guy Peter Tork.
Remember My Name also shows that Crosby remains the most cynical hippie in the world, as the footage veers between interviews with producer Cameron Crowe and candid takes of Crosby hanging out in old haunts. There’s also great archival footage, plus some animated bits as Crosby’s weird career gets covered in a patchwork fashion.
A lot still gets covered in an economic 95 minutes. The only real loss is the filmmakers skirting over Crosby, Stills & Nash turning into corporate dreck at the end of the ’70s. The film’s subject is contrary enough to probably consider that to be a personal shining moment. Instead, we just rush into the heroin addiction that finally landed him in jail during the ’80s.
The rambling pace also pays off with a quick lurch back to 1974, when interviewer Crowe plays back his first interview with Crosby. The rocker is heard talking back then about what his dad taught him about friendship, and it’s kind of funny when Crosby says he must’ve just made that up – before getting tearful about how his father never talked to him about anything, and that “all the main guys I made music with hate my guts.”
There’s a great glimpse of Graham Nash deliberately ignoring Crosby onstage during a concert, but the old rocker seems to get along really well with his live band in more recent concert footage. He’s also seen seemingly charming lots of youngsters while recording a new album. It’s weird that we don’t get to hear from any of those people.
There’s also not enough righteous anger from Crosby. At the very least, he could honestly claim that The Byrds never recovered from firing him from the band. It’s a shame that Crosby also doesn’t get time to boast that he’s the only songwriter among his contemporaries who’s still writing great music.
The documentary still does a fine job of capturing a guy who’s been kind of an anti-muse to his fellow stars over the decades. And while Crosby jokes towards the end that he could be manipulating the filmmakers, this very honest work still has him speaking candidly about the documentary’s true purpose – which is to convince people that David Crosby is “worth a shit.”