The idea of making David Crosby our new advice columnist started as a joke around the Rolling Stone office. Croz was the first to admit that he lived a rather imperfect life, making many catastrophic decisions along the way. “If there was a way to go wrong possible, I did,” he told Rolling Stone in 2013. “I could have easily died at so many points in my past. It happened to my friends — Jimi, Janis, Cass.…”
But Croz somehow survived a crack addiction, alcoholism, diabetes, hepatitis C, and a liver transplant, not to mention a stint in a Texas prison. He emerged from these battles with deep scars, but also real wisdom and an appreciation for his second shot at life. The more we thought about it, the less of a joke it became. When we decided to formally offer him a chance to be our advice columnist, he jumped at the opportunity.
Questions about drugs, death, grief, music, parenting, and sex came pouring in. Croz never saw a question before we put the index cards in front of his face, and he never once balked at a single one of them. The only thing he ever asked of us was to do this with him more often. He absolutely loved helping out strangers with their problems, especially after taking a few puffs off his vape pen. “Once again, I forge out into the wilderness of questions,” he said in 2021, “and try to come up with some kind of answer.… I’m old, I’m stoned … but I’ll give it my best shot.”
Sessions usually took place when he visited New York, but they slowed down during the pandemic. In the summer of 2021, a camera operator came to his house in Santa Ynez, California, with a fresh stack of questions. We didn’t know this would be our final opportunity to extract wisdom from the singer, who died at 81 on Jan. 18 after a long illness. But it was an incredible, hysterical session. These answers have never been seen before — consider them a parting gift from Croz.
What sort of deal did you make with the devil to not only live this long, but to preserve your voice? I’m half-kidding, but I cannot think of any other explanation for the state of your body, mind, and voice other than satanic intervention. —Dustin
You’re a funny guy. It is kind of inexplicable, I’ll give you that. I did everything wrong.… No, I didn’t do everything wrong. I didn’t smoke cigarettes. There. I did something right. I did smoke a ton of pot. I still do, but I vaporize it since its better for you. No tar.
I don’t have a real explanation for why my voice is the way it is. People ask me all the time since everyone else’s voice seems to be going to shit. I’m extremely grateful. I figure as long as it works, I should use the hell out of it.
This is going to sound a little corny, but I’m an old hippie and I think music is a lifting force. I think it makes things better, it makes people happier. Considering the generally shitty state of affairs, at least in this world that I know about, more music is a good thing. I’m going to give it the best shot I can while the voice is still working.
How is it that you appear to be so intolerant to people with differing opinions? As in Trump supporters. —Michael
My problem with Trump supporters is that they are stupid and ignorant and uneducated, and just wrong. What can I tell you, man? If you’re dumb enough to believe in QAnon, I can’t help you.
I think a lot of you are just too stupid to understand what a democracy is or how it works. If you believe that kind of nonsense … man, you’re going to some really funny places. They aren’t real. You’re being led by the nose.
I’m a single father of a daughter heading into her teenage years. I want to talk to her about safe sex and making healthy choices, but I fear it’ll be way too awkward and she won’t want to hear any of that from me. Sadly, her mom died when she was a baby. What should I do? —Jonathan
Go ahead and talk to her. She wants to know, and you are her friend — hopefully. Look, there’s only one real truth about sex. It’s that love is where it gets good. If you can communicate that, you will have won. Sex is great. It’s wonderful. I spent the first half of my life being almost obsessed with sex. But it’s not where the real value and the deal is. As much fun as that is, loving somebody and being loved by somebody, knowing that somebody gives a shit about you … that if you fall down, somebody is going to try and pick you up, that’s even better. You don’t have to get all technical and shit. Just try and tell them the real truth, which is that love is where it gets good.
Settle an argument: Who is better, CSN or CSNY? —Derek
I don’t think “better” really applies. They were two completely different bands. This is something most people don’t get. Chemistries between human beings are individual as snowflakes — very delicate and very complex. The chemistry between the three of us in Crosby, Stills, and Nash was organic. It came there of its own will.
Neil [Young] did add something, and he did bring some good songs. “Helpless” is a great song. So is “Country Girl.” Neil wrote some great songs. There is no way around it. He’s an exciting guitar player, and an exciting artist. He’s always pushing the limit, and that’s good.
Both bands made really excellent music. All of the celebrity nonsense, all of the “Oh, my God, they’re playing to 20,000 people in a baseball stadium,” all of the personality bullshit between us doesn’t count at all. It doesn’t signify. What counts is the songs, and both bands generated great songs. I can’t tell you which one is better. I think it depends what you’re looking for at any given time. They both did a really good job, for a while.
Hi, David. My late husband and I saw you with CSNY at the Verizon Theatre about 15 years ago. He was my best friend. He died in December 2011, and not a day passes without something triggering a memory. But sometimes I wish I had someone now to be my companion in life, to share and laugh with. Then I feel guilty. Am I disloyal? Am I wrong to want that? —Glenda (the Good Witch)
No, you’re not wrong. You have a hole in your life. Only the passage of time will ease it — the passage of time, and you focusing your attention elsewhere. You have a degree of control over this in the sense that where you put your attention is where your consciousness is. If you focus on your husband … you have to try not to.
I don’t think it’s wrong that you miss him. I don’t think it’s wrong that you feel lonely. These are all natural things. But we can’t change death. It’s not going to change itself. And you have to keep going. It’s OK to want someone to laugh with, to share life with. I think you should be looking. I know that’s a hard thing — real hard. Being alone is real hard, too.
David, I held my nose and voted for Biden in the election even though I was a proud Bernie supporter. But Biden hasn’t delivered a Green New Deal, Medicare for All, or any of the things I care the most about. I feel scammed, and I’m contemplating voting for the Green Party candidate next time. My friends tell me I’d be wasting my vote. What do you think? —Sarah
Your friends are right. The Green Party is not going to get any votes. I was a Bernie guy. Biden is trying his best, man. And neither one of them is the best guy for me. The best guy in American politics right now is Pete Buttigieg, because he is the smartest one.
Joe Biden is a decent man, trying to be a decent man. He’s not getting some stuff done because the Republicans in the Senate are holding a death grip on it and will not pass anything that he puts forward. Mitch McConnell told him the same thing he told Obama. Nothing gets through. That’s Mitch McConnell. If I were a violent person, well …
Primarily, though, we have to deal with global warming. I understand there are a great many people who are just too fuckin’ dumb to understand what that means. It’s not really hard. As we put dark stuff into the atmosphere — car exhaust, coal smoke, oil smoke — it darkens the atmosphere a tiny bit, a millionth. It’s such a delicate balance that even a little change like that changes stuff drastically and dramatically down the chain. We are going to experience weather that will kill people. Soon whole areas of land will become uninhabitable.
Dear Croz: How can someone not have empathy for other living beings? I don’t understand how someone could pass by an animal who is in distress. And I don’t understand how someone could cut down a tree and still sleep at night. —Amy
I worship trees. That’s the reason I fell in love with [my home]. I cannot pass an animal in distress. If they are hurting, you help them. My whole family feels the same way. I advise you not to abuse any animals in front of my son Django. He’ll rip your arm off.
We have three dogs, two cats, two horses, and some hawks that love us. I think animals elevate your life. Dogs know about love. If you have a kid, you have to have a dog. They teach kids about love — beautifully, naturally, without even trying. I really wasn’t kidding about people who trophy hunt. I would love to sell licenses to hunt them in Africa.
David, I’m a baby boomer who turned 18 years old in 1969. In those days, I firmly believed that when people my age became older and “in charge” that the world would finally be a better place, filled with “peace, love, and understanding.” What the fuck happened? —Richard
Well, I’ve asked myself the same thing. I’m an idealist. I wanted to think that we could do better. I think there is an innate goodness in human beings and that it’s natural for them to head that way.
We are trying to evolve as human beings to the point where we don’t have ego, and anger, and greed, and lust running our affairs. I don’t know if we’re going to make it. I believe that we will, but that’s mainly because I need to believe that we will to keep going.
Whether that helps you or not, I don’t know. My suggestion is don’t lose your idealism. Just be patient and keep trying. If we quit trying, it all goes in the shitter.