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What Are Their Names

David Crosby

photo from Willard's Wormhole

David Crosby

What Are Their Names comes from David Crosby’s 1971 solo album If I Could Only Remember My Name.

Crosby had written (or co-written) some songs that were often on my turntable.  Long Time Gone, Wooden Ships, Deja Vu, Almost Cut My Hair – from the albums Crosby, Stills & Nash & Deja VuTriad, from Jefferson Airplane’s Crown Of Creation was another favourite written by Crosby. And also the haunting Everybody’s Been Burned from The Byrds 1967 album Younger Than Yesterday.

I really like his songs.

He’d lined up a veritable who’s who of West Coast psychedelia to play on the album. Most of The Grateful Dead, Grace Slick & Paul Kantner from Jefferson Airplane, his colleagues from CSNY, Joni Mitchell, Greg Rolie & Michael Shrieve from Santana, & David Frieberg from Quicksilver Messenger Service.

My school lunch money would be much better saved and spent on this album … than on a couple of pies from the canteen.

I wasn’t disappointed.

Unfortunately, my vinyl copy was lost sometime in the late 70’s or early 80’s. A time when I was lost and my collection was decimated through various household moves, break-ups, break-ins, and desperation sales.

Crosby himself, was lost for an extended period around the same time and a bit later … ending up with a list of convictions and eventually spending some time in prison in Texas. He was in a dark place. By the mid-90’s he needed a liver transplant – primarily due to his immoderate approach to drug and alcohol consumption. He survived and will turn 72 in August this year.

How do What Are Their NamesOhio relate to each other?

A song from Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young makes for an easy link to songs from any of the individual members of CSNY.

The 3 songs coming out of the Ohio crossroad were each selected because they have a political edge. What Are Their Names has continued political relevance today, being used as an unofficial anthem in the Occupy Wall Street leaderless resistance movement in late 2011.

The song’s progression seems to match that of the Occupy movement  – a soft, leaderless and loose movement of sound, connecting & threading its way to finally aggregate into a moving, powerful song that is all too brief … then petering out and fading away.


Other Stuff You Might Enjoy.

* Personal Notes (about the album tracks) from Stephen Barncard, producer of If I Could Only Remember My Name.

* During December 1970, around the time of recording If I Could Only Remember My Name, David Crosby, Jerry Garcia, Phil Lesh & Mickey Hart, played a few nights at The Matrix in San Francisco. It seems they were billed as Jerry Garcia & Friends but also called themselves David & The Dorks; Jerry & The Jets; or David & The Ding-A-Lings.

This link takes you to 6 recordings from those sessions: David & The Dorks. And this one to a little information: Willard’s Wormholes.

* What Are Their Names is the subject of a post in a great blog called Political Tunes – The Politics In Popular Songs.

And the next road takes us to?

North:  Chestnut Mare by The Byrds
East:     Greasy Heart by Jefferson Airplane
South:   New Speedway Boogie by The Grateful Dead 
West:    We just visited Ohio 

Crossroad 16