In Loving Memory of Croz, by Paul Zollo

Crosby & Zollo, Aspen, 2015.
To view the show, see below.
David Crosby 1941 – 2023


It’s with deep sorrow, which I share with millions I know, to learn that the great David Crosby – aka Croz, as well as Shadow Captain, and “the man with the twinkle in his eye,” according to Joni Mitchell – has left to launch his next adventure.

Of all the greats of songwriting I have known, I got to know Croz better than almost all of them, thanks to the Aspen Writer’s Foundation. As pictured above, I hosted their Lyrically Speaking series for a while and hosted a night – the most memorable one ever – with the great Croz. 

Look around again

It’s the same old story

You see, it’s got to be

It says right here on page 43

That you should grab a hold of it

Else you’ll find

It’s passed you by

from “Page 43” by David Crosby

Croz was one we both hoped to get, and when I invited him he said he would consider it, primarily because his son Django – still a kid then – would love some snow-boarding.   The one issue was travel. He would do it, he said, if we got him a private jet from Santa Barbara, near his Santa Inez home, to Aspen.  

Having come from the magazine and also non-profit realm, in which no one ever requested a private jet to do an interview – not even once – I didn’t think this would be possible, but, as I have been often, I was wrong. The Aspen folks said “Sure! No problem!” as if we asked for an extra blanket for his bed. 

Having rarely flown in a private jet (correction: never), I drove up to Santa Barbara to meet Croz, his beloved wife Jan, and the happy Django, then about 12. We flew private together – which for me was akin to taking a limo as opposed to a Greyhound – arrived in Aspen, and commenced our first great adventure together.

It was one much longer than planned, as we got snowed in and had to stay there for a week instead of three days. (And, no, that is not code for coke. Croz did no coke or drugs that time – except one – weed (big shock) – which he said was “the only drug which never fucked me.” ) 

It’s passed you by

Pass it round one more time

I think I’ll have a swallow of wine

Life is fine

Even with the ups and downs

And you should have a sip of it

Else you’ll find

It’s passed you by.

from “Page 43” by David Crosby

It was a glorious, wintry, somewhat surreal week. A week of listening to his amazing songs and learning the stories, from the famous ones like “Deja Vu” and “Guinevere” to the epic ones (“Wooden Ships,” written with Stills and Paul Kantner while sailing and tripping both on a ship which, according to Stills, was “humming” the whole time.”) to the mysteriously obscure but great ones like “Page 43” (which, he said, was not about that page in the bible, as was sometimes suggested). 

My job was to get great songwriters to come to Aspen, where we’d do a live interview about songwriting – in which the artist performed some of their songs – at the beautiful Belly-Up club, always packed with happy music lovers. 

Croz, as millions know, was a passionate, brilliant, crazy, magnetic, fiery, brilliant, singular, romantic, bodacious, sincere, inspirational, humble, spiritual, sometimes unhinged, wise, proud, loving and extremely hilarious man. Also one of the greatest harmony singers known to man in the last many decades, providing that elusive and often ethereal glue to three or four part harmony – the part that on its own is quite strange and crazy hard to sing – yet is the perfect and only part which binds the others together. 

I always liked to begin these shows with an intentionally light-hearted question, to show both the subject and the audience that this would be fun. This photo is of Croz’s response to the question. Which was: “You were in Crosby, Stills & Nash, Crosby, Still Nash & Young, and Crosby-Nash. How is it you always got top billing?”

Croz, who had a keen comic outlook on life always and appreciated whimsy, threw back his head, laughed joyously, and dove in. It was an extraordinary night – as preserved forever on YouTube – and a week I won’t ever forget. 


I will share more on the man and his music, friends, harmony, history and more in coming days. But first this – Croz in his element: musical, funny, brilliant, political, romantic, honest and more – onstage before an extremely loving and excited audience. 

It was the love of that audience, as well as the great proximity to the man as he performed solo many of his most iconic and timeless songs – that i remember most vividly. I’d never felt anything like that before or since, really. It was the electric rush of love, adoration and tremendous excitement I could feel palpably from the audience when I brought Croz to the stage. It washed through me like a tidal surge of pure, unadulterated, ecstatic adoration and deep gratitude. It was the best feeling I’ve ever known, unlike any other. As he ambled on, smiling gently, I realized he’s known this surge for decades, and it seemed normal to him. And no doubt much smaller than that in the immense venues he usually performed.  

Rainbows all around

Can you find the silver and gold?

It’ll make you old

The river can be hot or cold

And you should dive right into it

Else you’ll find it’s passed you by

That the first-billed in his several super-groups would be the first to go makes some sense, as he’s been the first often to try stuff before the other followed.

So with much love and gratitude for this man being in our realm so long and leaving all of us such timelessly inspirational gifts – his tenderly powerful songs, singing, records and unchained spirit – here’s some David Crosby love and spirit for all has fans everywhere who have been enriched by it always.  

 - Paul Zollo

Paul Zollo is a songwriter, photographer, author, and beloved member of The Songwriting School community. His multi-volume collection of interviews with the great songwriters of all time, Songwriters on Songwriting, remains a songwriter's GPS for navigating our craft. The Songwriting School was proud to host the live interview show Songwriters on Songwriting Live and looks forward to a new incarnation of that magnificent series in 2023.