Deep Cuts: Crosby & Nash "Lay Me Down" (2004)

Share this:

A late period gem from a couple of old hippies you probably thought had self-destructed in a drug-induced haze years ago.

Not hardly. It seems like every time you turn around, Graham Nash and David Crosby are touring in one configuration or another. Oftentimes, it’s with their erstwhile partner Stephen Stills, but these folk-rock sexagenarians hadn’t stopped playing the hits from the flower power era that have rightfully put them near the top of the heap among that generation’s singer-songwriters.

By all accounts, these guys can still perform at peak level. That said, given the lack of quality material in recent years—heck—decades, it might be easy to accuse them of sailing on cruise control and resting on their laurels.

A few years ago, however, Crosby and Nash recorded their first album as a duo since 1976’s Whistling Down the Wire. The plainly titled Crosby Nash has its share of ups and downs but even though it’s an overlong 2-disc offering, there’s plenty enough highlights on it to best anything from Crosby, Stills & Nash (and Young) since Daylight Again.

The song out of that thick new collection which most harkens back to the salad days of the early seventies is the first one. “Lay Me Down” has spiritual-type lyrics about a yearning for rejuvenation (which fits these guys’ style perfectly) and is backed by a beautifully spare arrangement blissfully devoid of the slickness that’s plagued much of their more recent studio recordings. A lightly picked acoustic guitar is the only instrument that’s in the forefront, while the percussion and synth wash stay in background.

That leaves those all-world voices to carry the song. The boys are up to the task.

Crosby’s slightly nasally but angelic tenor leads off alone with the lyrics:

“Driving out through the windmills
And some of them were still
Sometimes it’s hard to catch the wind
And bend it to your will”

Nash blends right in on the second verse providing that trademark upper register contrast. But it’s those gorgeous, swelling multi-tracked harmonies on the chorus that sends chills down the spine. Just as they’ve been doing for almost forty years, now.

As much as this sounds like a classic Crosby folk tune, “Lay Me Down” was actually penned by James Raymond, who also provided the keyboards on this album. It’s hardly a coincidence that Raymond could evoke Crosby so well, though; he is an illegitimate son of Crosby given up for adoption as an infant and became an accomplished musician in his own right never knowing that his dad was a rock ‘n’ roll star until decades later. Today, the two along with the outstanding guitarist Jeff Pevar make up the Crosby side project CPR, which sounds like an agreeable blend of CSN and Steely Dan.

Sometime I should preach on about CPR in more detail. For now, though, “Lay Me Down” provides enough reason to shout a few halleluiahs and take some comfort knowing that a couple of old icons can still conjure up some inspiring new material. Even if that material was written by offspring, it’s plenty close enough for rock and roll.

Sample: Crosby & Nash “Lay Me Down”

“One Track Mind” is a more-or-less weekly drool over a single song selected on a whim and a short thesis on why you should be drooling over it, too.

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
Share this:
Close