If I Could Only Remember My Name

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If I Could Only Remember My Name
Studio album by
ReleasedFebruary 22, 1971 (1971-02-22)
RecordedSeptember 1970–January 1971
ProducerDavid Crosby
David Crosby chronology
If I Could Only Remember My Name
Oh Yes I Can
Singles from If I Could Only Remember My Name
  1. "Music Is Love"
    Released: March 1971
  2. "Orleans"
    Released: May 1971

If I Could Only Remember My Name is the debut solo album by American singer-songwriter David Crosby, released on February 22, 1971, by Atlantic Records. It was one of four high-profile albums released by each member of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young in the wake of their chart-topping 1970 album Déjà Vu. Guests on the album include Jerry Garcia, Graham Nash, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, and other prominent West Coast musicians of the era.

The album peaked at No. 12 on the Billboard Top LPs chart and earned a RIAA gold record certification in the United States. It initially received negative reviews from critics, but has gone on to achieve cult fandom and praise from modern critics.


The album was released following the success of the 1970 Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young album Déjà Vu. Its popularity contributed to the success of the four albums released by each of the members in its wake – Neil Young's After the Gold Rush (1970), Stephen Stills's self-titled solo debut (1970), this 1971 Crosby debut, and Graham Nash's Songs for Beginners (1971). The period was also one of mourning for Crosby following the death of his girlfriend Christine Hinton in a 1969 car accident.[6] Grief stricken, Crosby coped by doing hard drugs and spending large amounts of time in the studio, where he "felt safe."[7]

Recording sessions took place at the recently opened Wally Heider Studios in San Francisco. While there, Crosby invited many of his musician friends to take part. Among them were Nash, Young, Joni Mitchell, and members of the Grateful Dead (most frequently Jerry Garcia),[7] Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service, and Santana. According to Crosby,

These were all good friends and good people and they knew that I was lonely and they knew also that I was slightly nuts at the time, and they would come and we would play music ... I would sit down with whoever did show up – most often Jerry [Garcia] – and start playing a song ... If you started playing music, he wanted to play. And we had two-track tape running constantly the entire night. And the minute that something started to happen, the 24-track would start to roll – or maybe it was 12 track back then ... And then I would start layering harmonies onto it, and that was a lot of fun."[7]

The loose ensemble of musicians was given the informal moniker of The Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra by Jefferson Airplane bandleader, longtime Crosby associate and fellow science fiction fan Paul Kantner,[8] although Crosby noted that the P.E.R.R.O. was only a willful invention of Kantner's rather than a collective project.[7] Many from this agglomeration, including recording engineer Stephen Barncard, also worked on Kantner's Blows Against the Empire, Songs for Beginners by Nash, and the Grateful Dead's American Beauty, all recorded in part concurrently with the Crosby album at Wally Heider Studios.


Even with the star-studded guest line-up, the final two songs feature Crosby alone. Only five songs have actual lyrics, "Orleans" being a 15th Century round listing various French cathedrals.[9] Crosby's song "Laughing" had been written earlier in his time with CSNY,[10] while a demo version of "Song with No Words" had been tried out during the sessions for Déjà Vu and would appear on the 1991 CSN retrospective package. "Cowboy Movie" recounted the tale of a group of Old West outlaws torn apart by a femme fatale; in actuality a recounting in thinly-veiled form of the encounter by the quartet with Rita Coolidge and her effect on the romantic aspirations of at least two of them, as identified immediately by Nash.[11]

The album is rooted in the folk-rock tradition, but like much of Crosby's work it also borrows tunings, time signatures, and vocal phrasings from jazz.[12] Some writers have labeled it an early example of psychedelic folk,[1][2] with Billboard describing the music as "psychedelic folk dirges."[13] Pitchfork stated that "[t]he music feels the way a dream sounds when you try to retell it in the morning: foggy, only loosely coherent, dissolving in real time."[14]


If I Could Only Remember My Name was released in February 1971 on Atlantic Records. Two singles were taken from the album, including the minor hit "Music Is Love", a collaboration with Nash and Young that was released in April 1971 and peaked at No. 95 on the Billboard Hot 100.[15][16] The album has remained continuously in print.[17][3]

In October 1990, a compact disc version was released, having been digitally remastered from the original master tapes, using the equipment and techniques of the day, by Barncard. A double-compact disc version appeared in November 2006, with an audio disc remastered in HDCD, including a bonus track (the hitherto unreleased "Kids and Dogs", previously earmarked for an unreleased Crosby solo album slated to appear on Capitol Records in the early 1980s) and a second DVD Audio disc of the original album remixed for 5.1 digital Surround Sound.

On October 15, 2021, a 50th anniversary re-issue of the album was released with numerous out-takes and demos, as well as liner notes by Steve Silberman.

Critical reception and legacy[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
The Encyclopedia of Popular Music[20]
Rolling Stone[3]
The Village VoiceD−[19]

Early reception[edit]

If I Could Only Remember My Name was initially panned by many music critics.[21] Writing for Rolling Stone, Lester Bangs claimed that "the playing is sloppy as hell… Crosby’s singing here is even blander and more monotonously one-dimensional than Stills’ on his solo album," concluding that it is "not likely to go down in history, but it is not a bad album." He memorably deemed it "a perfect aural aid to digestion when you're having guests over for dinner, provided they’re brothers and sisters enough to get behind it, of course."[21] Village Voice critic Robert Christgau gave the album a D− rating and dismissed it as a "disgraceful performance".[19] Crosby has said of the contemporaneous reviews: "They were looking for another record that was full of big, flashy lead guitar and blues licks and screaming lyrics ... [If I Could Only Remember My Name] was not where everything else was going, so they thought it was irrelevant."[21]

Modern reception[edit]

The album went on to achieve cult status and praise from latter-day critics for its austere mood, eclectic improvisation and otherworldly harmony singing.[21] In 2000, it was voted number 156 in the third edition of Colin Larkin's book All Time Top 1000 Albums. He stated "if you are not familiar with this miraculous record, please take the risk."[22] A Head Heritage review of the 2006 reissue compares the album with Nick Drake and the acoustic material of Meddle-era Pink Floyd.[23] It has been labeled a progenitor of the freak folk genre.[4][24]

In 2010, Crosby's album was listed second, behind the Beatles' Revolver, on the "Top 10 Pop Albums of All Time" published in the Vatican City newspaper L'Osservatore Romano.[25]

On 18 November 2013, Crosby appeared on an edition of the BBC Radio 4 program Mastertapes, which was dedicated to the making of the album.[26] The following day, he took part in the program's "B-side" edition, answering audience questions and performing songs from the album.[26] In 2016, Japanese musician Cornelius included If I Could Only Remember My Name in his list of "10 Albums Everyone Needs to Hear".[27]

In 2019, the album's title was partly adopted for the Cameron Crowe documentary on Crosby, David Crosby: Remember My Name.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by David Crosby except where noted

Side one

  1. "Music Is Love" (Graham Nash, Neil Young, David Crosby) – 3:16
  2. "Cowboy Movie" – 8:02
  3. "Tamalpais High (At About 3)" – 3:29
  4. "Laughing" – 5:20

Side two

  1. "What Are Their Names" (Neil Young, Jerry Garcia, Phil Lesh, Michael Shrieve, David Crosby) – 4:09
  2. "Traction in the Rain" – 3:40
  3. "Song with No Words (Tree with No Leaves)" – 5:53
  4. "Orleans" (traditional, arranged by David Crosby) – 1:56
  5. "I'd Swear There Was Somebody Here" – 1:19

2006 reissue bonus track

  1. "Kids and Dogs" – 7:01

2021 50th anniversary edition bonus disc

Recorded March 1968:
  1. "Riff 1" – 2:22
Recorded March 28, 1968; produced by Paul A. Rothchild:
  1. "Tamalpais High (At About 3)" – 1:53
  2. "Kids and Dogs" – 3:07
  3. "Games" – 3:17
Recorded May 31, 1968; engineered by Michael Nemo:
  1. "Laughing" – 3:58
Recorded 1969:
  1. "Song with No Words (Tree with No Leaves)" – 3:12
Recorded 1970:
  1. "The Wall Song" – 4:15
  2. "Where Will I Be?" – 3:41
  1. "Cowboy Movie" (alternate version) – 10:57
  2. "Bach Mode (Pre-Critical Mass)" – 2:00
  3. "Coast Road" – 5:16
  4. "Dancer" – 5:03
  5. "Fugue" – 2:03




2006 reissue:
  • Bill Dooley – CD mastering
  • Steve Hall – DVD audio engineering
  • Matthew Greenwald – liner notes
2021 reissue:


Chart performance for If I Could Only Remember My Name
Chart (1971) Peak
Australian Kent Music Report[28][verification needed] 13
Canadian RPM 100 Albums[29][verification needed] 8
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)[30] 7
Swedish Kvällstoppen Chart[31] 12
US Billboard Top LPs 12
US Cash Box Top 100 Albums[32][verification needed] 9
US Record World Album Chart[33][verification needed] 9
Chart (2021) Peak
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)[34] 178
Hungarian Albums (MAHASZ)[35] 29
Chart (2023) Peak
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[36] 35


Region Certification Certified units/sales
United States (RIAA)[37] Gold 500,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


  1. ^ a b Breihan, Tom. "David Crosby Announces If I Could Only Remember My Name 50th Anniversary Deluxe Reissue With A Dozen Previously Unreleased Tracks". Stereogum. Retrieved 28 January 2023.
  2. ^ a b Pratt, Chris. "David Crosby - Croz". The Line of Best Fit. Retrieved 28 January 2023.
  3. ^ a b c Sheffield, Rob (January 25, 2007). "If Only I Could Remember My Name – David Crosby > Album Reissue Review". Rolling Stone. No. 1018. p. 75. Archived from the original on January 14, 2007. Retrieved 12 January 2007.
  4. ^ a b Hornaday, Ann. "Review: 'David Crosby: Remember My Name' finds famously prickly musician has mellowed – but not by much". The Spokesman-Review. Retrieved 28 January 2023.
  5. ^ Petrusich, Amanada. "David Crosby Celebrates His Ornery Self in the Documentary "Remember My Name"". The New Yorker. Retrieved 28 January 2023.
  6. ^ "David Crosby: If I Could Only Remember My Name Album Review". Pitchfork. 10 March 2019. Retrieved 10 March 2019.
  7. ^ a b c d Verlinde, Jason. "Interview: David Crosby on History and Harmonies". Fretboard Journal. Retrieved 31 January 2023.
  8. ^ Craig Fenton (7 August 2008). Have You Seen The Stars Tonite. p. 69. ISBN 9781438245348.
  9. ^ 4waysite retrieved 3 May 2021
  10. ^ Browne, David. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young The Wild Definitive Saga of Rock's Greatest Supergroup. ISBN 9780306922633. New York: Hatchette Books, 2019, p. 117.
  11. ^ Browne, p. 117.
  12. ^ Petrusich, Amanada. "David Crosby Celebrates His Ornery Self in the Documentary "Remember My Name"". The New Yorker. Retrieved 28 January 2023.
  13. ^ Rolli, Brian. "Thomas Dybdahl Feels 'The Weight of a Lot of Bad Decisions' on 'All These Things': Premiere". Billboard. Retrieved 28 January 2023.
  14. ^ "David Crosby: If I Could Only Remember My Name Album Review". Pitchfork. 10 March 2019. Retrieved 10 March 2019.
  15. ^ If Only I Could Remember My Name – David Crosby > Charts & Awards > Billboard Album at AllMusic. Retrieved 22 May 2006.
  16. ^ If I Could Only Remember My Name at the Grateful Dead Family Discography
  17. ^ a b Swihart, Stanton. "If I Could Only Remember My Name". AllMusic. Retrieved September 20, 2018.
  18. ^ "David Crosby: If I Could Only Remember My Name Album Review". Pitchfork. 10 March 2019. Retrieved 10 March 2019.
  19. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (June 10, 1971). "Consumer Guide (18)". The Village Voice. New York. Retrieved February 16, 2013.
  20. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th ed.). Omnibus Press. p. 3074. ISBN 978-0857125958.
  21. ^ a b c d Hagan, Joe (March 3, 2021). "David Crosby on dinner with Joni, Phoebe Bridgers and the 50th anniversary of his haunted solo debut". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 20, 2021.
  22. ^ Colin Larkin, ed. (2000). All Time Top 1000 Albums (3rd ed.). Virgin Books. p. 89. ISBN 0-7535-0493-6.
  23. ^ "Review". www.headheritage.co.uk. Retrieved 2020-06-18.https://www.headheritage.co.uk/unsung/review/1264/
  24. ^ Giles, Jeff. "Revisiting David Crosby's 'If I Could Only Remember My Name'". Ultimate Classic Rock.
  25. ^ Quinlan, Carrie (February 15, 2010). "Revealed: The Vatican's Favourite Bands", The Guardian
  26. ^ a b c "David Crosby". Mastertapes. November 18, 2013. BBC Radio 4. Retrieved January 18, 2014.
  27. ^ "Cornelius on the 10 Albums Everyone Needs to Hear".
  28. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992.
  29. ^ Canada, Library and Archives (2013-04-16). "The RPM story". www.bac-lac.gc.ca. Retrieved 2020-07-05.
  30. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – David Crosby – If I Could Only Remember My Name" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved July 29, 2021.
  31. ^ "Swedish Charts" (PDF).
  32. ^ "CASH BOX MAGAZINE: Music and coin machine magazine 1942 to 1996". worldradiohistory.com. Retrieved 2020-07-05.
  33. ^ "RECORD WORLD MAGAZINE: 1942 to 1982". worldradiohistory.com. Retrieved 2020-07-05.
  34. ^ "Ultratop.be – David Crosby – If I Could Only Remember My Name" (in French). Hung Medien. Retrieved October 24, 2021.
  35. ^ "Album Top 40 slágerlista – 2021. 44. hét" (in Hungarian). MAHASZ. Retrieved November 11, 2021.
  36. ^ "Swisscharts.com – David Crosby – If I Could Only Remember My Name". Hung Medien. Retrieved February 12, 2023.
  37. ^ "American album certifications – David Crosby – If I Could Only Remember My Name". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 9 June 2016.

External links[edit]