When this album was released in 1994, the modern record industry must have collectively scratched their heads and wondered why bother. Wherefore would anyone care about some ancient Hippie fossil from the golden age of rock music, playing with a group of other aging fossils? Well I can explain to them why, and that is because they were fucking good! And David Crosby is no exception; because as long as he remains alive, those who follow him, and his music, have a relationship perhaps not unlike the ecclesiastics toward their favourite Apostle.
Recorded live at The Whisky A Go Go in Hollywood, California, on December 7th, 1993, It’s All Coming Back to Me Now is an intimate and immediate document and none more so than on the first track “In My Dreams”, where Crosby and Co. carry the listener away in meditative fashion. “Rusty and Blue” is another soothing number, though doesn’t quite register in the memory banks once it’s over. “Hero” is a song Crosby co-wrote with Phil Collins, and Heaven knows why he did, because it’s about as memorable as the last time I took a Paracetamol. While “Till It Shines On You” has Crosby all fired up but nowhere to go.
It’s not until we get to “Thousand Roads” that the fire starts to get burning, in more ways than one. Jeff Pevar’s slide guitar is particularly professional while Mike Finnigan (someone who has played with just about everyone in the business, from Cher to Jimi Hendrix), on organ, lays down a tasteful foundation around an extremely sympathetic rhythm section.
Things pick up with a rather modern sounding “Cowboy Movie”, from Crosby’s classic solo album “If I Could Only Remember My Name”. Although it lacks some of the organic edginess of the original (it’s a shame that Jerry Garcia wasn’t invited), what’s obvious is that Crosby is clearly reveling in singing these old songs. The same goes with “Almost Cut My Hair”, where Crosby extemporises with a passion and power that belies his age. Joining him onstage is none other than Chris Robinson of The Black Crowes sharing vocal duties, and as much as Robinson has a fantastic voice, Crosby simply blows the roof off like a man possessed.
Graham Nash walks on stage and joins Crosby on what turns out to be a somewhat cosmic and celestial performance of “Deja Vu”, where Crosby is clearly in his natural element, and once again enjoying the songs of his youth. Likewise the next track “Long Time Gone”, which sees Nash and Crosby sharing vocals and singing with a certain degree of urgency not heard since the early ‘70’s, as if it was David Crosby’s last night on earth. Although I’m sure if it was, there would have been a few more musicians lurking about back stage desperate to be part of the occasion.
Unlike Neil Young, whose career and popularity has remained relatively consistent throughout the decades, David Crosby has never really managed to reattain those heady heights he once enjoyed with CSN on their first few albums. But times change, and each successive generation must find heroes of their own. The fact that people remember him at all should bring comfort to those who still believe in the power of music to act as a force for good in this world, as a vehicle for truth and self-expression, whether political or otherwise. Crosby was always one of the most polemical musicians of his generation, and I for one am thankful that he is still around.