Courtesy of Pitchfork

David Crosby, original member of Los Angeles rock band The Byrds and founder of folk rock supergroup Crosby, Stills & Nash died on Jan. 18, 2023 at the age of 81 after suffering from “a long illness.” As an integral player in the 1960s Laurel Canyon music scene (and longtime resident of Santa Barbara), Crosby leaves behind an influential legacy — especially in the folk and rock genres.

Crosby set a precedent for music that’s known today as folk rock — he made folk music rock ready. He embodied the hedonistic feel of Laurel Canyon, paving the way for rising musicians of the ’60s and ’70s. He spun acoustic guitar from slow, Americana melodies to rock songs. He was an innovator. 

Crosby was inducted to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame twice: once for The Byrds and again for Crosby, Stills & Nash. Nominated for 10 Grammys, he won in 1970 for Best New Artist and was the first artist to win MusiCares Person of the Year Award in 1991. He published multiple memoirs and was writing music until the day he died. He was in the midst of writing a new album, which is now left unfinished. 

Crosby leaves behind his wife Jan Dance and their son Django Crosby, his son James Raymond (member of jazz-rock band CPR) and his daughters Erika Crosby and Donovon Crosby.

In the ethos of David Crosby, and by the advice of longtime friend Joni Mitchell, “write your shit down.” Crosby once said, “my songs emerge from my life, or wherever they do, unbidden and unplanned and completely on a schedule of their own.”

Although difficult to put into a short list, here is my best attempt at 10 essential David Crosby songs:

  • “I See You” by The Byrds (1966)
  • “Turn! Turn! Turn!” (To Everything There Is A Season)” by The Byrds (1965)
  • “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” by Crosby, Stills & Nash (1969)
  • “Guinnevere” by Crosby, Stills & Nash (1969)
  • “Teach Your Children” by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (1969)
  • “Almost Cut My Hair” by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (1970)
  • “Carry On” by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (1970)
  • “Ohio” by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (1971)
  • “Laughing” by David Crosby (1971)
  • “Tamalpais High (At About 3)” by David Crosby (1971)