David Crosby is a straight shooter.
The Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famer is always candid when speaking about his long and illustrious career, which dates back to 1964. Crosby, 77, who will perform Saturday (11/24) at the Paramount Theatre in Cedar Rapids, talks up his latest album, “Here If You Listen”; discusses the difference between competitive and collaborative songwriting; and details whether Crosby, Stills & Nash, will ever reunite.
Q: You’ve been indie rock prolific lately. Three albums in three years. What has prompted such a run of creativity?
A: It’s pretty complex. I had built up a backlog of songs toward the end of Crosby, Stills and Nash. We weren’t friends toward the end. It wasn’t a good place to take a song, since we weren’t into working on each others stuff. So I had a bit of a backlog. Those songs landed on my solo albums.
Q: “Here If You Listen” is listed as a solo album but it feels more like a band release.
A: It’s a band. Mike League, who is tremendous, is the band leader, as well as the bassist for Snarky Puppy. And then there is Becca Stevens and Michelle Willis. All three of them write like crazy and each of them sings unbelievably well.
Q: What’s the difference being in Crosby, Stills and Nash and say working with Michael, Becca and Michelle?
A: There are two ways to write. There is the collaborative effort and the competitive effort. With the competitive effort, which is how it was in Crosby, Stills & Nash, you inevitably end up at war with each other. The collaborative ends up in the symphony orchestra. I’m pleased to be on the collaborative side.
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Q: There are those like yourself, Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young, who are still releasing relevant material, and then there are those who are riding the nostalgia wave or are hanging it up.
A: A lot of people are still doing good work (as senior citizen rockers). James Taylor’s latest album, “Before This World,” is spectacular. It’s as good as anything he’s ever done. Other people are laying it down like my old pal Elton John. He’s been on the road long enough and God bless him. He can afford to stop. Paul Simon is one of the best writers we’ve ever had and he’s quitting the road. I understand. The road beats you up.
Q: So why do you continue to tour?
A: I can’t quit. I’m not financially able to do that. But I also love singing. I don’t want to stop even though the road beats the crap out of me.
Q: Much has been written about your tumultuous relationships but it seems that your bond with your son David Raymond is very strong. Perhaps it’s all about genetics. David was placed for adoption and you didn’t meet him until he was in his mid-30s and an accomplished musician.
A: That’s so true about genetics. David was a musician for 20 years by the time he found out that I was his father. David Raymond is a powerhouse.
Q: During a prior interview, you told me that you couldn’t imagine raising him since you couldn’t take care of a box of tissues at the time.
A: That’s absolutely true. I couldn’t have raised anybody back then. But David and I are good friends now. I enjoy playing with him. We’ve had a great time in CPR, which is just one of the many bands I’ve been in.
Q: Will Crosby, Stills and Nash ever reunite?
A: I don’t know. I’m perfectly willing to get back together. I have no bad feelings in my heart with those guys. I would be happy to do it. I would be happy to get back with the Byrds as well.
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Q: But when I asked Graham Nash about a CS&N reunion he said, “I’m completely done with David Crosby I will never talk with David Crosby again.”
A: Yeah, you know that’s what he says this week. We’ll see.
Q: And is there a chance you’ll reconnect with Neil Young?
A: I have no idea. He’s in charge of that. All he has to do is call. If he would like to get back together, I would love to do it.
Q: How did CS&Y go from tight knit group to a splintered act?
A: It started with how competitive our group was. It worked for us as songwriters. We wrote some good songs that I’m proud of ... but 40-years later we devolved. You turn on the smoke machine and you play your hits and you don’t like each other. It’s not fun anymore. I need music to be a joy for me.
Q: The cash grabs at reunions are palpable. You can tell when a band is up there for the wrong reasons.
A: I saw that with Sting and the Police.
Q: It’s true. The reunited Police didn’t look pleased to be onstage together. What was your take?
A: The same thing. They weren’t happy being up there. You have to enjoy it to do it well.
Q: The only reunion tour I ever witnessed with two guys who didn’t want to be in the same room with each other — and was still great — was the Simon & Garfunkel tour in 2004.
A: What transcended that with Artie and Paul is that the songs are so bleeping good.
Q: What can fans expect to experience at your Cedar Rapids show?
A: Anything from the Byrds stuff to what I wrote last week. I guarantee you that I’ll play a lot of new stuff.
WHAT: David Crosby & Friends
WHERE: Paramount Theatre, 123 Third Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids
WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday (11/24)
TICKETS: $35 to $95; $245 to $595 VIP; Paramount Box Office, (319) 366-8203 or Paramounttheatrecr.com
ARTIST’S WEBSITE: Davidcrosby.com