After being a part of two of rock & roll’s most foundational bands (the Byrds and Crosby, Stills & Nash, respectively), and four years removed from a life-saving liver transplant, David Crosby channeled the creative frustration he had been feeling into CPR’s 1998 self-titled debut. Joined by noted session guitarist Jeff Pevar and Crosby’s recently reunited son James Raymond, the trio crafted smart, heady, jazz-indebted rock that showcased their stunning harmonies. They followed that three years later with 2001’s Just Like Gravity, an album that refined the burgeoning trio’s sound. On May 15th, BMG will reissue CPR, Just Like Gravity and the group’s two live album – Live at Cuesta College and Live at the Wiltern. All four albums will be available digitally, and CPR and Just Like Gravity will be available on CD July 31st, with liner notes written by Steve Silberman, the award-winning science writer who hosted the illuminating Freak Flag Flying podcast with Crosby from earlier this year.
“CPR was me realizing that the world of CSN and Y was getting old and stuck in its place and that I needed to still keep moving,” says Crosby. “That I had more and different music in me that needed room to grow and stretch. CPR was me finding my son James and realizing pretty quickly that he was an even better musician that I was, and that he was rapidly becoming the best writing partner I’d ever had. CPR was a wonderful chemistry that has now become the Sky Trails band. I don’t think very many people heard these records, and I do think that they are some of the best work I’ve been involved with. Enjoy.”
Still on the road with CSN – but as Crosby says merely “turning on the smoke machines and playing the hits” – the two-time rock & roll hall of famer wanted an outlet for his still churning creativity. After meeting Raymond for the first time shortly after his liver transplant, the pair discovered a creative chemistry neither saw coming. They went on a songwriting spree, and after recruiting Pevar, went on to make CPR. After a series of successful tours, they went back into the studio to record Just Like Gravity. And by opening himself up to working with younger artists to help stoke his creative fires, Crosby’s recent late-career resurgence – highlighted by 2014’s Croz, 2016’s Lighthouse, 2017’s Sky Trails and 2018’s Here If You Listen – can really be traced back to working with Raymond and Pevar in CPR.
CPR was very much a precursor to Crosby’s acclaimed Sky Trails album and the ace live band that grew out of that album, both of which feature Pevar and Raymond. Spin called Sky Trails Crosby’s “most stylistically diverse and sonically lush solo album,” while the Associated Press called it “an excellent batch of tunes.” In many ways, CPR and Just Like Gravity were albums that pushed against what was popular in rock at the time – CPR going up against the nu-metal wave of the late 90’s, and Just Like Gravity coming at the beginning of the turn of the century “rock revival” led by acts like the Strokes and the White Stripes. Crosby, Pevar and Raymond weren’t chasing after the flavor of the day or trying to recreate old glories, they simply followed their muse, trends be damned.
As Silberman says in the liner notes for the Just Like Gravity reissue, “CPR and Just Like Gravity were two of the most powerful and personal records Crosby made in his celebrated career, but they flew under most critics’ radar and quickly went out of print. The lessons that Crosby learned by opening up his creative process, however, made possible later collaborative breakthroughs like Croz, Sky Trails, Lighthouse, and Here If You Listen. Far from done at this point, his best work was still ahead of him.”