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David Crosby

Twitter is great for conversations with people you don’t know and who may be inaccessible because they’re famous, live on another planet, etc. For example, I was able to tell Johnny Marr how much I liked his memoir, and receive the polite response you would expect from an Englishman:

Another time, Andy Partridge of XTC explained something he said on a podcast:

My good friends Johnny and Andy are active on Twitter, but David Crosby is another story. Crosby, who has 70K followers, has tweeted 30K times and answers fan questions in large batches pretty much every day. That’s why, when I wrote a song inspired by his WTF with Marc Maron interview, I thought about tweeting it to him.

I’ve tried this before. For example, I tweeted Earvin “Magic” Johnson to Magic, who has 3.4M followers and tweets regularly, but it slipped through the cracks. Maybe Magic isn’t into folk music? I thought Silvie Simmons, who wrote the Leonard Cohen biography that inspired Saint Catherine Street, would want to know that someone wrote a song based on her book, but I couldn’t get her attention. (I have since learned that she ignores her Notifications, which is where this sort of thing shows up. I know this because – chalk one up for for human interaction – I met her at a party a couple of weeks ago.)

Being ignored is no skin off my back, but what if the subject objects? Instead of liking the song and praising me, Crosby – who is no stranger to conflict (exhibit A, exhibit B) – could hate/be offended by the song and destroy my career by tweeting disgust/contempt. I’m thinking specifically of the first verse, which is accurate but unflattering:

Yesterday I made my children listen to
A fascinating David Crosby interview
The temperamental singer, whose life went off the rails
Who battled his addictions and ended up in jail

The rest of the song isn’t really about Crosby. Rather, it explores the idea he brought up on WTF, which is that the 60s were mellow and cool but cocaine ruined everything in the 70s:

The story of the sixties was creativity
First with marijuana
Later LSD
The seventies were different:
We were too messed up to sing
Cocaine ruins everything

From the psychedelic rock-and-roll machine
To the meditative Laurel Canyon scene
Intimate communion, consciousness expands
A legacy of music, legendary bands

The story of the sixties was creativity
Living in the present
Open-heartedly
The seventies were different:
We were too messed up to sing
Cocaine ruins everything

Working for a living, living on the bus
Bored off their asses, playing songs for us
Powdering their noses and learning how to live
With creeping paranoia, dark and secretive

The story of the sixties was creativity
A transcendental moment
But, regrettably,
The seventies were different:
We were too messed up to sing
Cocaine ruins everything
Cocaine ruined everything

Eventually, after a period of equivocation, I went for it. I was driving from San Francisco to Lake Tahoe with my kids when, having pulled over for a side-of-the-road pee break in the hinterlands between Fairfield and Sacramento, I saw his response:

Needless to say, it was a thrill. It’s a thrill when anyone likes one of my songs! But, it’s an especial thrill when the liker is a singing/songwriting legend and unusually generous. Cocaine Ruins Everything started racking up SoundCloud spins, and blew past 500 before slowing down (for perspective, my next most-popular song has 200 spins and many have fewer than twenty).

It’s hard to know what all of this is worth. It was a lot of fun, and something to brag about to the people in my musical orbit. I may have picked up a few new SoundCloud followers, but I don’t think I gained any Twitter followers. The only thing I can say definitively is that a bunch of people heard my name and at least a portion of one of my songs who didn’t know my name and hadn’t heard any of my songs before. Now, it’s up to me and social media to ensure that we cross paths again. I’m not sure how I’m going to make that happen!

Here’s the song:

Bob Hillman Administrator

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