A.J. Eaton's documentary of famed singer/songwriter David Crosby manages to do something I didn't expect. It pushes past nostalgic trip back to Laurel Canyon and the 1960s by being as much about growing old and confronting one's regrets as it is a career retrospective. This is largely due to Crosby's startling candidness.
Tracing his career in The Byrds and CSN (Crosby, Stills, and Nash) and sometimes Neil Young, director A.J. Eaton paints a full picture of Crosby's musical career. However, Young has more on his mind and asks personal and revealing questions. Crosby is looking back at a life of regret, having lost most of his friends and fellow musicians in his life due to his selfish and self-destructive behavior. At 76, Crosby is ready to confront his past demons or is he.
One of the equally fascinating and frustrating qualities of this documentary is the sense that Crosby is both brutally honest and yet may also be spinning a bit of a yarn. The film opens on him recounting seeing John Coltrane while on a great deal of drugs, accompanied by his friends and a 4'2'' German hooker. This wild tale reveals how much of a fan of all kinds of music that Crosby is. He was blown away by Coltrane's power on stage. The tale also feels a bit calculated and embellished. Regardless of how true some of Crosby's tales are, they are always entertaining to listen to.
Remember My Name is best when focused on Crosby's regrets in life. Now diabetic and with a failing heart, he is striving to put his family first. His love of music and playing live threatens to pull him away. When asked if he would choose a happy life full of love and family but without music, Crosby honestly responds that he couldn't live without it. Music is his life, the only thing he has to contribute to the world. He seems to be hoping that his music will forgive all the people he hurt while being young, cocky and coked-up.
Fans of Crosby and the late 60's era of music will find lots to love in Remember My Name. Crosby is a fascinating interview subject and Young does a good job of asking questions that pull back the BS that Crosby can be full of. The documentary follows the usual format of archival footage and talking-head interviews. While the format isn't particularly unique, it is regularly amusing and interesting.