‘They get in the way': David Crosby on how drugs stunted his career, and his creativity

David Crosby says that by the time he turned himself into the FBI in 1985, having been plagued by a string of drug and weapons charges, he knew that he had reached a personal nadir. The thing is, though: The FBI didn’t.

“I walked in, and said: ‘You guys want me,'” Crosby remembers, in a talk with the Hudson Union Society. “And they said: ‘We do?’ They gave me what I call the stink eye.”

Of course, after the two-time Hall of Fame founder of both the Byrds and Crosby Stills and Nash identified himself, they quickly took Crosby into custody. He ended up in jail from December 1985 until the following August.

To that point, Crosby — who is recovering from a heart procedure after making a triumphal return with his new album Croz — hadn’t released a solo album since 1971. Songs from a failed effort ended up on the 1982 Crosby Stills and Nash release Daylight Again, but Crosby wouldn’t record again until 1988’s American Dream (a Crosby Stills Nash and Young effort) and 1989’s solo effort Oh Yes I Can.

Crosby now places the blame for those creative lapses squarely on his lifestyle: “As the drug use went up, the music writing went down,” he says. “They were corresponding curves. Drugs do not — and let me emphasize this — help you write anything. They do not help you create. They get in the way. They lower your consciousness, they make you unable to really complete your work. ”

At one point, Crosby says he didn’t write a single thing for some two years straight. “I think that’s why I knew I had to give it up — and I did,” he says. “I had to surrender. By that time I was a fugitive.”

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