Wednesday, May 22, 2019
‘David Crosby, Remember My Name’ Launches 2019 Sun Valley Film Festival
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A.J. Eaton pulled a souvenir from his filmmaking out of his pocket to reprise an iconic image of David Crosby taken years ago.
 
Friday, March 15, 2019
 

STORY AND PHOTOS BY KAREN BOSSICK

It was only 30 years ago that David Crosby remarked on national TV, “I should be dead.”

On Wednesday night the long white wispy hair and always prominent mustache of this hippie troubadour filled the 14-by-26-foot screen at the Argyros Performing Arts Center as the celluloid version of David Crosby looked a sell-out crowd in the eye and said:

“Hello, Sun Valley. I wanted to come but my directors wouldn’t let me. I would’ve liked very much to be there but I can’t—I’m working.”

 
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Film Festival Founder Teddy Grennan acknowledged the sponsorship role of Ford, which has been an integral part of the film industry since the beginning.
 

And with that the eighth annual Sun Valley Film Festival launched.

The film, which premiered at Sundance Film Festival in January to critical acclaim, will undoubtedly become an important part rock and roll history as Crosby describes how he hung out with The Beatles, taking notes from them on how to be a rock and roll star, and how he never took the stage during the first three decades of his life without being fueled by drugs.

It also chronicles the women "he didn't love enough," including Joni Mitchell whom he said broke up with him via a song she'd written to him. And how Graham Nash, ended 45 years of friendship by shouting how much he loathed him on stage during concert—Nash’s spittle covering Crosby’s face.

The film was made by Idaho native A.J. Eaton, who grew up skiing Baldy and fishing the Big Wood River while his father’s Steve Eaton Band played Whiskey Jacques. He and his brother Marcus, who wrote the musical score for the film, started on it eight years ago--just as the Sun Valley Film Festival was launching.

 
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Candice Pate introduces film festival staff ahead of the film whose title was inspired by David Crosby’s 1971 song “If I could Only Remember My Name.”
 

The film eschews a narrator, instead relying on Crosby to tell the story of how a class clown always striving for attention dialed into music when his mother took him to hear the symphony in the park. The Everly Brothers only cemented his drive to make his own music.

Crosby reflected on learning of a lynching--his first clue that humans could be evil enough to hang another human. And he introduced his father Floyd Crosby as a pilot during World War II who in 1931 won one of the first Oscars ever handed out for his work on “Tabu: A Story of the South Seas,” as well as a Golden Globe for Best Cinematography for "High Noon."

It was his older brother Ethan, also a musician, who gave him his first guitar. And in 1967 he began singing "Turn Turn Turn,” “Eight Miles High" and "Teach the Children" with The Byrds, one of rock and roll's first electric bands.

But reaching stardom when young and immature was not necessarily all positive, he reflected.

The Byrds kicked him out of the band after he became polarizing, even ranting on stage about how JFK's assassination was a political conspiracy.

In response, he went sailing, and met Joni Mitchell, whom he called “the best singer-songwriter of all of us."

“I’m surprised any of the women who put up with me, did put up with me,” he said.

Crosby joined Crosby, Stills and Nash in 1969, the group introducing itself to the world at Woodstock.

The intent was to build a mothership group that would allow them to do what they wanted, he said, and  one of the group's defining moments was its response to the Kent State killings with its song "Ohio."

"It lit the whole country on fire," said Crosby, who saw the rock and roll of that generation as a driving force in ending the Vietnam War. "The person carrying that live ammunition should be in prison still."

Crosby himself ended up in prison on a drug and guns charge.

People get on hard drugs because they don’t want to be here, he shrugged, acknowledging that drugs became more important than anyone or anything.

Finding his face on an FBI poster, he fled, then turned himself in. He dried out in prison where he spent four months in solitary, and got back on stage without drugs for the first time in his life.

Asked why he’s still alive, he replied. "I don't know why. "Why, me?"

At the age of 77, he experienced a creative rebirth, recording four albums in three years and taking his show on the road despite the misgivings of his wife who acknowledges there's the chance he may never return to her, their labs and stallions, given his diabetes, recurring heart problems and a liver transplant.

"I have to say, 'Go honey, have fun,' and I may not see him again,” she said.

Crosby’s voice is, one radio interviewer noted, as strong and pure as ever.

A.J. Eaton said he was introduced to Crosby through his brother, who went on tour with Crosby after the singer took a liking to Marcus' work. A.J. said he knew Crosby's work but had not been an uber fan. But he and Crosby became fast friends, as he began getting to know a guy who would not give up. And, he said, it was evident that Crosby was ready to tell his stories.

"When you do documentaries, it's literally like setting sail--you know your destination is Hawaii, but you don't know if you're going to go through stormy weather,” he said, acknowledging that there were times he wasn’t sure the film would see the light of day.

Director Cameron Crowe's decision to produce the film saw it through.

Eaton told the audience following the film that he had expected Crosby's father to chronicle his children's lives with home movies, given his roots in Hollywood. But his researchers found only a few clips.

The biggest find came from a photographer who had stashed the film he shot of Crosby during his early years in a manila envelope in his garage. The film was curling on the edges and edited together with Scotch tape. Had they found it two weeks later the film might have been toast, he added, marveling that the film survived at all outside a cool, temperature-controlled environ.

Everyone, it seems, still  recognizes the iconic Crosby, Eaton said, although he has gotten mistaken for Walter Brennan and even Simon and Garfunkel.

Eaton said he didn't pull any punches with the film, which Sony Pictures Classics plans to distribute this summer.

"David is my friend but I'm a filmmaker first, and I made a conscious decision I was going to show him warts and all."

FILM FESTIVAL CONTINUES

The Sun Valley Film Festival Continues through Sunday. For information, visit www.sunvalleyfilmfestival.org.

 

 

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