David Crosby, a king of Twitter
On Wednesday, a day before the world learned of his death at 81, musician David Crosby tweeted more than a dozen times.
He chose his favorite Beatles song for a rainy day (“Eleanor Rigby”). He expressed Support for climate activist Greta Thunberg, and contempt for Republican Representatives Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene. In a poignant bit of foreshadowing, he shared some thoughts on the sky: “I heard that the place is overrated”, he wrote, “cloudy”.
Among his musical peers, Crosby lived a unique series of American lives. He was a defining voice in folk-rock music of the 1960s and 1970s. He was a bold name for his brief stint in prison for drug trafficking, his liver transplant and the revelation that he was the sperm donor of the two children of Melissa Etheridge with Julie Cypher.
And there was his surprising rise as a Twitter pundit, cemented in 2017 when he appeared in a commercial for social media service. There are no formal metrics, but it’s fair to say that no other Woodstock artist or two-time Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee has tweeted as much as Crosby, or with such pleasant enthusiasm.
Crosby was a real poster child, a compliment handed out to those who seem to intuitively understand the unspoken rules of how to live an online life. He enjoyed interacting with fans and haters; he never censored his thoughts or minced his words. He has tweeted around 79,000 times in more than a decade on the platform, a rate that has drastically eclipsed his contemporaries. Many musicians, and certainly those of his generation, exclusively use social media as a promotional service for tour announcements and new songs. Crosby, instead, treated Twitter like a walkie-talkie, a direct connection between him and anyone who wanted to hear from him.
It was one of the early draws of Twitter: the idea that you could actually interact with famous names like Ashton Kutcher or Shaquille O’Neal drove thousands of newcomers to sign up in the platform’s early days. -shape. But many celebrities have quietly left in recent years, driven by the increasingly combative dynamics that make sharing any opinion a risky proposition, or by Elon Musk’s disorderly power grab.
These display trends evolved Crosby’s public persona for a new generation of music fans, in a way that was both natural and authentic. As the music industry continues to evolve, its existing stars often attempt to cling to emerging trends, through efforts that can easily feel forced or hatched by corporate fiat. (It’s hard to believe Mick Jagger had anything to do with the Rolling Stones’ new TikTok account.) But Crosby was there, doing it himself. There was no doubt that he personally authored every tweet, because who else could post with such frequency or idiosyncratic phrasing? His willingness to release so often and honestly did the work of multiple marketing budgets and accompanied a late-career creative renaissance that saw the release of five solo albums over the past decade.
This exposure didn’t suddenly turn Crosby into a business force. (His latest album, 2021’s “For Free,” was not recorded in the United States.) Still, it was oddly reassuring to know that such a varied and involved public figure, who had been there for some of the most consequential events in American popular music, couldn’t resist the elementary pleasures of wasting time on Twitter like many of us, despite its myriad downsides.
“I really try to have fun here,” he told Grammy.com in 2021. “I like people. I think they’re fascinating. Fame is an unstable status, and there’s Surely there were times in his career when Crosby wondered if people would ever care about him or his music. But here’s proof they did. Even as Twitter unravels and grows under the owned by Musk, it’s still possible to have fun with others, one of the few things that keeps users from leaving Crosby was there until the very end.
In his last weeks he was rating sealspleading once again for atmosphere-creating abilities of his own music and make plans perform again. He was mad about George Santos and the environment, Spotify and Covid-19 as always, but joy and anger were mingled in plain sight.
A few days agohe released his 1989 cover of the Noel Brazil song “Columbus,” with an opening verse espousing a philosophy he endorsed every day he spent on Twitter: “Better keep your distance from that whale /Better keep your boat from wandering off/Get yourself a mate and treat them right/Try to give them shelter day and night.”
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