Almost (A Musical Story)

A couple of weeks ago my brother Richard sent me an email about music. A friend of his had burned a copy of an album for him, a record that Richie never had listened to before. “Have you ever heard David Crosby’s album If I Could Only Remember My Name? It’s excellent,” Richie wrote. Well, my memories of this Crosby opus, which came out in 1971, were beyond fuzzy. I wrote back to Richie: “I think I knew the Crosby album a long time ago. Is that the one with Almost Cut My Hair? I hated that song.” Concluding this magnificently scintillating exchange of questions and observations, Richie wrote back: “Almost Cut My Hair isn’t on it.”

Outer cover of If I Could Only Remember My Name
Outer cover of If I Could Only Remember My Name

I then put Almost Cut My Hair out of mind, where it belonged. But, lo and behold, three days later the highly unexpected happened. I was out doing errands, the car radio tuned to The Loft, a channel on SiriusXM satellite radio. As I pulled into my bank’s parking lot to take out a few bucks from its ATM, the infamous Crosby song, which I hadn’t heard in who knows how long, began to play (click here to listen). I couldn’t believe my ears. And you know what? My opinion about it hadn’t changed. I hated it. Fifteen seconds into the tune Crosby began singing some of the dumbest lyrics around.

Almost cut my hair.
Happened just the other day.
It’s gettin’ kind of long.
I could’ve said it was in my way.

Oy vey! I know that Crosby intended Almost Cut My Hair to be a statement of defiance, a paean to personal freedom. But it’s hard to relate to words so clunky and lame. David Crosby, a legendary talent whose resume famously includes membership in The Byrds; Crosby, Stills & Nash; and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young was having a very off day when the words to Almost Cut My Hair spilled from his brain. I forgive him. After all, anybody who composed Guinnevere (click here to listen) and Long Time Gone (click here), which Crosby did, is more than A-OK in my book. And he could (and still can) sing like an angel, though gruff was the order of the day for Almost Cut My Hair.

Nevertheless, I was taken aback by Almost’s reentering my life less than 75 hours after my brother’s email had loosened from the dusty corners of my cranium the fact that the song even existed. I examined the situation from all angles and, illogical and prone to belief in fantasy as I am,  easily concluded that there had to be a reason for the occurrence. But what was the reason? Why, it could only be one thing: I was meant to write a piece about song lyrics that always have made me cringe, lyrics that suck big time shall we say. Such as those of Almost Cut My Hair, of course, and especially of A Horse With No Name (click here). The words to the latter strike me as the absolute worst I’ve ever encountered, especially this line: ‘Cause there ain’t no one for to give you no pain — Yo, what the f**k? That loser, and plenty of others in the song, give me pain. As if the bottom-of-the-barrel wordsmanship mattered in the least to the band America, one of whose members (Dewey Bunnell) wrote the song. America, as we all know, had a mega-hit with the nameless horse in 1971. And its popularity on the airwaves remains considerable to this day. America has been laughing all the way to the bank for a long time.

As we can see, my idea for a piece about terrible lyrics looked promising. If I had continued to think about it I’m sure I’d have come up with several more numbers whose lyrics can sit proudly beside those of Almost Cut My Hair and of A Horse With No Name. However, that article is going to have to wait awhile and will need a measure of readjustment. And that’s because, shortly before I sat down to begin writing, I clicked my way over to YouTube to give Almost Cut My Hair another listen, aiming to pinpoint all the reasons I can’t stand it. Holy crap! All of a sudden I found myself listening to the song with a refreshed set of ears. Sure, the lyrics still stunk — that hadn’t changed — and Crosby’s angry vocal stance rang as false as a cracked bell. But the instrumental work on the track . . . somehow I’d never really paid attention to it before, and it rocked very righteously. I was smacked in the face by roaring guitars, seething keyboards and pounding drums. I shrugged off Almost’s dopey lyrics and overblown vocals and gave myself over to its mighty, surging roar. By the time the song ended I had changed my tune. That’s fine. In fact, I was glad about it. Hell, being open and flexible often is what life’s all about.

I now am nearing the end of this wee tale. Before I lay down my weary head I should mention a couple of items that will help tighten some loose knots. First, Almost Cut My Hair comes from Déjà Vu, the 1970 disc by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young that spawned several big hits, including Teach Your Children (click here) and Our House (click here). Somewhat oddly, Crosby is the sole singer on Almost. His bandmates, each in possession of unique and striking pipes, sat this one out vocally. But they powered the song majestically with their instruments.

Second, a trip to my basement, where I store the many vinyl albums I bought decades ago, confirmed what I suspected might be true. Namely, that I own a copy of If I Could Only Remember My Name. The last time I’d given it a spin most likely was a year or two after its release. Conscientious journalist that I am, I went upstairs to the living room, pulled the platter from its housing and placed it on my music system’s turntable. And then I listened to both sides. As already noted, my brother Richie thinks that If I Could Only is excellent. I’d rate it almost that high. Trippy and shape-shifting, the songs on the album take you on a complex ride. Good job, David. Good job.

Inner cover of If I Could Only Remember My Name. Crosby is at bottom right corner.
Inner cover of If I Could Only Remember My Name. Crosby is at bottom right corner.

(Please don’t be shy about adding your comments or about sharing this story with others. Thanks a lot)

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32 thoughts on “Almost (A Musical Story)

  1. greenpete58 February 15, 2017 / 7:59 am

    Agreed on all the above. “Almost Cut My Hair” lyrics are dated and embarrassing. “A Horse With No Name” is an emasculated cloning of Neil Young. Crosby’s first solo album is pretty good, but hardly”excellent.” I think his two most recent releases are superb, though (“Lighthouse” and “Croz”). He had (has) a beautiful voice, and occasionally delivered some great songs with the Byrds and CSN and Y, but there were a lot of clunkers, too. Part of the reason he left the Byrds was because the others rightfully refused to release his song “Triad,” about a sexual three-way. It was more suited to a band like Jefferson Airplane.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yeahanotherblogger February 15, 2017 / 9:48 am

      Hello, Pete.
      Crosby is a complicated guy. I think that he and Graham Nash were best friends for many years, but now they are on the outs. I hope they eventually patch things up so that CSN can get back together again.

      Like

      • greenpete58 February 15, 2017 / 11:45 am

        I didn’t know they weren’t getting along. Yes, he certainly is complicated! He seemed to be everywhere and know everyone in the ’60s. Talented, bright… but once in a while he seems to go completely “off the wagon!” God love him.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Joyce February 15, 2017 / 7:59 am

    Always look forward to hearing your clicks. Most songs l don’t remember hearing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yeahanotherblogger February 15, 2017 / 9:45 am

      Thanks, as always, for keeping up with my stories, Joyce. You definitely are a loyal reader!

      Like

  3. stacybenedict February 15, 2017 / 5:39 pm

    Fun post. It’s weird how some songs seem to get better with age — or I should say, annoy you less when you are older.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Carmel Bendon February 15, 2017 / 7:29 pm

    Actually, I like “Horse with No Name”, especially since I heard an Australian song mix, “The Lorraine Song” in which a series of excerpts from songs that are amenable to the replacement of some of their lyrics with the word “Lorraine” take on a whole new feel. The “Horse with No Name” chorus becomes “I’ve been through the desert on a horse named Lorraine, it feels good to be out with Lorraine …”. Of course, in turn, the urge to replace already silly lyrics with even sillier ones becomes annoying too – a whole new set of earworms to contend with.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yeahanotherblogger February 15, 2017 / 8:35 pm

      Hi. The Lorraine Song idea is pretty cool. I’ll have to look and see if it’s on YouTube. I’m sure it is.

      Like

  5. fayekonyi February 15, 2017 / 11:34 pm

    Almost Cut My Hair is on one of my playlists. I love it despite the clunky lyrics, although any song with a line about cutting wheat from the chaff has my attention. I love the feeling that he owed it to someone. Glad to hear you saw the light. Horse With No Name is not on any of my playlists. Nor is Wildfire, another horsie song from the era.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yeahanotherblogger February 16, 2017 / 7:19 am

      Hi, Faye. Another horse tune from those days is Chestnut Mare. A revamped version of The Byrds did that one. It’s a good song (and awfully long, as I recall).
      Take care.

      Like

    • yeahanotherblogger February 16, 2017 / 9:29 am

      He should have followed “Almost Cut My Hair” with “I Cut Off My Stashe”

      Like

      • cincinnatibabyhead February 16, 2017 / 12:02 pm

        That’s funny. You should do more of these takes!! Some songs last as long as it takes to hit the off button. We all have that list.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Elizabeth M. Soltan February 18, 2017 / 3:08 pm

    My husband and I were trying to remember the lyrics to “Our House” the other day, so your story was particularly welcome. Your knowledge of music is astounding.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. lightravellerkate February 18, 2017 / 5:11 pm

    Synchronicity is interesting isnt it? The way we have our attention drawn to something is quite ingenious. .Enjoyed your post, thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yeahanotherblogger February 18, 2017 / 5:45 pm

      Hi, Kate. I agree . . . Synchronicity can make life very interesting.
      Thanks for adding your thoughts. I’ll be seeing you —

      Liked by 1 person

  8. andrewcferguson February 20, 2017 / 12:41 pm

    Good spot Neil – I’d never heard this song before, but the combination of duelling lead guitars and keyboard is pretty rousing. Sounds like the engineer had the needle up in the red most of the recording, but in a good way. The lyrics are either deeply meaningful in a way I can’t work out this far from context, or complete pants!

    Liked by 1 person

    • yeahanotherblogger February 20, 2017 / 2:07 pm

      Good evening, Andrew. You know, I’ve seen David Crosby in concert only once. It was a CSN show about 5 years ago just outside of Philadelphia. I was amazed by how great Crosby’s voice still was, and Nash’s too. Stills voice, though, showed a lot of wear. Anyway, I’m really glad to have seen them because Crosby and Nash are feuding now, so maybe CSN will not perform again anymore.
      See you – – – –

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Pazlo February 21, 2017 / 9:23 am

    Listening to the phenomenal commercial success, the wall of sound and velvet voice of Karen and David Carpenters creations, and noted this line in the composition.

    “Baby, baby, baby, baby, oh- baby.”

    “Superstar”, recorded by The Carpenters, was co-written by the late legendary Leon Russell.

    Oh, what we do for our art.

    Seek peace,

    Paz

    Liked by 1 person

    • yeahanotherblogger February 21, 2017 / 11:51 am

      Hello, Paz. Thanks for the visit.
      Leon Russell wrote so many beautiful tunes. He was a gifted songwriter.
      I’ll be seeing ya’ —

      Like

  10. thejuicenut March 25, 2017 / 5:35 pm

    I really hated Almost Cut My Hair when I acquired Déja Vu, an album that holds so many memories for me. I felt it spoiled my favourite album and I always skipped it. I was less of a Crosby fan more a Nash and Young fan, but I loyally bought all their first solo albums (and subsequent ones of Nash and Young, plus Crosby & Nash). If Only … was my least favourite. I always felt Crosby needed one of the others to rein him in and/or to add some sweetness to the vocals. Having said that, as you point out, when placed in context, the lyrics make more sense and the instrumentation is quite something. Thanks for the memories 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • yeahanotherblogger March 25, 2017 / 11:39 pm

      Hi. I appreciate all your thoughts. Changing the subject slightly: It’s pretty sad that Crosby and Nash, who were very close friends, aren’t speaking to each other these days. If they don’t patch things up, CSN is kaput.

      Liked by 1 person

      • thejuicenut March 26, 2017 / 4:59 am

        Yes, it’s very sad, but apparently been brewing for some time and from what I’ve read Neil Young won’t perform with him again either.

        Liked by 1 person

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