In an electronic age, it’s surprisingly easy to find out if the artist you saw at the Granada on Tuesday played exactly the same set in Napa two nights earlier. I’m not saying that David Crosby shouldn’t have a set set, but we are his homies, after all, and it’s a wee bit disillusioning he couldn’t pull out at least one surprise. He didn’t. I’m gonna bet the banter was canned, too.
Speaking of loose talk, Crosby introduced “Triad,” the pro ménage a trois song by saying a lot of people think it’s why he got thrown out of the Byrds. “No. I got thrown out of the Byrds because I’m an asshole,” he said in a fine moment of self-deprecation. Actually, he got thrown out of that band because he couldn’t stop delivering political rants, culminating at the Monterey Pop Festival. He still does that and he obliged us plenty Tuesday night. Diatribes happily leaning to the left, though sadly of the bumper-sticker philosophical quality, “I think schools should have all the money they want, and the Air Force should throw a bake sale.” He said and was greeted with applause and razzes.
All that said, Crosby put on a delight-filled show, though most of the deepest pleasures came from songs from his surprisingly durable solo album If I Could Only Remember My Name. “What Are Their Names,” “Laughing,” and for an encore “Cowboy Movie,” which Crosby said was really about the first time Crosby, Stills, and Nash broke up. A number of his new songs pleased the collective ear, though the best were by far were the oldies, drawn from the Byrds and earliest CS&N (and sometimes Y) years: “Déjà vu,” “Guinevere” and in the center of the show “Carry Me” followed by his oldest moody, delicate and memorable chestnut, “Everybody’s Been Burned.”
Put together rants, occasional stumbles, and sentimental masterpieces Crosby has penned over the years, and we got an honest portrait of the man, our neighbor whose first real job, he said, was usher in the Granada Theater. For old home sake, he should have given us a smidge more than a pre-tested show.