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Monday, April 14, 2014

ARTING About...? And the Grammy Goes to: David Crosby's -- "Croz"

by Robin Scott Peters

My buddy Larry, whom I have written about in past articles, I consider Guru of all that is music.  Four weeks ago he gave me a gift of his newest acquisition.  "Listen to this when you get in your truck, tell me what you think?"  I sucked down the rest of my delicious Zinfandel, took the CD and read the writing in orange Sharpie: "David Crosby -"Croz."  I looked up at Larry, shook my empty glass, and said "When did this come out?"  In the clarity of a true Guru Larry flatly spat out: "Just."   "I wonder what it sounds like?"  "That's why I gave it to you?"  "Yes, true...."   I shook my glass again and he took it; and ushered me out the front door.

I jumped into the truck, red, Nissan Frontier.  The base model.  I roll up and down the windows, nothing electric on this baby.  She doesn't have a name, the truck that is, but she is a dear friend. My home for four months at one point in the not too distant past.  Trusted both in her ability to always run and for being the place that I have found solace away from the pounding as my family and marriage dissolved.  Luckily, this base model home on wheels has a CD player and I slipped in my new tunes.

I am in the middle of a divorce.  29 years, 8 months of marriage, so says the divorce papers filed.  Add 5 years of dating and a lifetime turns into some freakish form of....  I am still trying to figure out what to call it.  During the inevitable contemplation of my culpability in the demise, I fall into time-warps.  In these moments the intensity and multiplicity of thoughts and emotions bombard.  The battle engaged, there are always casualties, me, myself and I included.

I want you dear Reader to take a moment, before I go on, and think about this: remember, go back to a moment when you were so astonished by a circumstance in your life, a moment when you were anticipating one thing and something completely opposite that expectation ensued.  Intertwined with this moment of astonishment and reversal the added plus that what just "occurred" was exactly what you needed at that very moment in time.  More succinct -- a life line arrives just as you are sinking. Maybe even more accurate is the simple desire of knowing someone can relate to one's exact circumstance. Sympathize....Empathize.

I give you, dear Reader, a peek into my personal dilemma because it is in that struggle David Crosby's new release "Croz" engaged me on a level so powerful I had to write about it, to tell you about my fabulous discovery.  And though my experience and what I am about to share with you may or may not be what "Croz" intended, it is real and palpable and YOU--dear Reader-- need to engage this work of art.

I started my truck and the CD whirled and hissed for a quick moment as it found Track 1.  And from that moment to this very moment as my fingers click, hover and rest over my laptop keyboard, five-plus weeks later I have not stopped listening.  This work is resounding into my head. It tapped into the emotional chords plucked by the struggle I currently partake.   I wake to the lyrics: "Who Wants To See An Abandoned Soul, Who Wants To Try And Open It, Who Wants [To] Know What Desperate Is, Who Wants To Buy What's Broken"   I don't shrink away from them.  I want this artistry to envelope me.  No "Jingle" here.  Not trying to shake the tune out of my head.  No, this is like a salve injected directly into the liquid pain flowing through my veins.  Literally one minute into the first song and those lyrics punched me right in the gut.  "What's Broken" I found out weeks later is the name of the first piece. What's Broken?  Me.

I threw my truck in drive and sped down the street, turned right and headed down the hill.  I could see the lights of the town twinkling in front of me.  The music taunting me "Looking Out On A Buzzing City, Molecules Go Flying By, Standing Here Is A Very Lost Disciple, How Could It Be That Angels Lie"  Are you mocking me "Croz?"  How is it that you can so easily reach into my soul and touch my most vulnerable state?

I realized I had been sitting at a stop sign listening to the second and third cut.  I turned and pulled over.  I called Larry.  "Dude, this is a f%#king great album.  I'm just three cuts in but it's already grabbed me.  And it's nothing like I expected, you know all CSNY thing.  The percussionist and drummer is outrageous and the production values are so clean and smooth and consistent I can't wait to hear the rest."  Larry validating offered: "David is quoted saying this is his best work."  "I really want my glass of wine listening to this."  "You're fucking driving so drink coffee and enjoy the rest of the work."  Just what a Guru should say.  I accepted his advice, as most always I do.

I had a long drive 3.5 hours most of which was along curving mountain road.  I've driven it countless times over 21 years.  It's a road you just settle in on.  Follow the speed limit and I don't have to touch my breaks, as if I am riding a great wave off the North Coast.  I slipped the CD back in.

Song after song the perfect union of musicality and lyricism, and truth.  Piece after piece it's a slap and a gouge and a stab and a kick and a punch and, and it seems as if all the darkness that living on this earth can force feed to a human is contained in the lyrics.  The words burst into strong sense memory imagery--I can see what he is singing about.  My personal struggle and loss, failure and disappointment, all captured in each and every piece:

"And Your Hands Are Slippery, The Wind Is Strong, The Boat is Rocking, The World is Storm, Your Hands Are Slippery, You Feel Like Turning Away To Run Free, But You Can Pull Someone Out Of The Sea" 
(from the song "Radio")

"Set That Baggage Down Brother, Set That Baggage Down, Throw It In The Water, Let That Baggage Drown,  Leave It At The Station, Leave It In The Street, Toss It In The Gutter, Set It Down by Your Feet, Walk On Walk On, Walk On Down The Road, Walk On, Walk On, No Need To Carry That Load"
(from the song "Set That Baggage Down" ) 

"I Try To Write Buddha And It comes Out Guns, I Vote For Peace And The Blood Still Runs, I Want To Believe I Can Pass Happy To My Child, But The Truth Gets Lost And The System Runs Wild -- 

(from the song "Dangerous Night" )

By the end of the 3.5 hour drive I had listen to "Croz" three-plus times over.  And I can emphatically state I have listened to it fully over 20 times in this last month (and still counting).  Initially I thought it to be lyrically very dark.  The ability to capture the nadir of human experience truly permeates almost every single cut. There are eleven songs on the CD.  What I learned over the last month is within the mix of songs and in the arrangement of each song position on the CD, the "darkness" to the lyrics is juxtaposed with rays of encouragement, strength, light and hope:

"Send Me Someone Who Has Doubts About it, Who Has Conquered Their Own Fear And Lived To Tell About It, Someone Who Won't Give Up In The Frozen Rain, Who'll Walk Right Next To Me Through The Orchards And The Grain"
(from the song "Dangerous Night")

"Fear Doesn't Live Inside The Blind, Let Go, And Step Into The Clearing Mind And Soul,  This Kind Of Love Don't Need A Home, This Kind Of Heart Beats All Alone, This Kind Of World, Gonna Let It Go, Lay Down The Things That Came Before"

(from the song "The Clearing")

"Find A Heart That You Can Speak To, In The Language Of Your Own Soul, In The Stillness Of The Water, Find The Peace To Make You Whole, A Passage To Illumination, Pulling Light From The Black Of Coal"
(from the song "Find A Heart")

This poetry is complimented by an array of amazing artists completely sold on this endeavor of Mr. Crosby.  The musicality is a triumph.  I have been trying to define the sound I am hearing. Is it Rock, Folk, Blues, Jazz?  The musical arrangements are so interesting.  There is a freshness and a vitality to the scoring and recording.  The percussion and drums really drive the "newness."  I find myself tapping and moving all my limbs trying to keep up with all the different syncopation's and variations to the beat.  The work, guitars, keyboards, sax and more is simply stellar. There is absolutely nothing boring, sampled, pulled from the past -- a complete original masterpiece.  And with stand outs such as Wynton Marsalis, Steve Tavaglione, James Raymond, Marcus Eaton, Steve DiStanislao can there be any wonder.  

I love this work because it recognizes tragedy and points towards clarity, letting go, forgiveness and love all wrapped perfectly in lyric poetry and musical originality.  I continue to listen to it because I think I have not yet reached the depth of what this group of artists have created.  So, as I said at the beginning, this is what I experienced with "Croz."  I would love to hear from you about your experience with this work of art.  You can grab a copy anywhere for about $11.99.   A beautiful thing when you can capture the Muse and present it to the whole world.


Please visit: Twitter: @FilmRobin for up-to-date info on where I am traveling for ART. LinkedIn: for complete resume & work history. -- Look for Dr. Robin Scott Peters Ebooks now available. YouTube: for all my video work.