David Crosby Delivers Surprise Performance at Jason Isbell Show

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

David Crosby delivered a surprise appearance alongside Shawn Colvin at Jason Isbell’s Santa Barbara, California show. The two performed the Crosby, Stills, and Nash protest classic, “Ohio.” The singer/songwriter hasn’t played live since 2019.

Crosby is the founding member of The Byrds and Crosby, Stills and Nash. The latter’s song “Ohio” followed the tragedy of May 4, 1970, when the US National Guard shot four unarmed students at Kent State University in Ohio at an anti-Vietnam War protest. Four people were killed with nine seriously injured, and 67 shots total were fired at the anti-Vietnam War protesters.

When bandmate Neil Young learned of the news, Crosby said he sat in silence for a while then picked up his guitar. “Ohio” was born 20 minutes later.

Tin soldiers and Nixon’s comin’
We’re finally on our own
This summer I hear the drummin’
Four dead in Ohio


Gotta get down to it
Soldiers are gunning us down
Should have been done long ago
What if you knew her and
Found her dead on the ground?

Other songs, such as Genesis’ “The Knife” and Joe Walsh’s “Turn to Stone,” were inspired by the event and were released following the tragedy.

While Crosby hasn’t played his music live in a few years, he has been busy with the aftermath of the Spotify drama. Specifically, the songwriter recently announced his support of former bandmate Neil Young‘s decision to pull music from the streaming platform. Crosby said the platform doesn’t serve musicians, especially those just starting their careers.

“They’re making billions with a b and they’re paying out pennies with a p,” Crosby said. “That’s not OK. It’s not OK in that it took away half my income, and it’s not OK in that, especially, it makes it impossibly difficult for young people to make it in the business.”

The Spotify dilemma affected the singer to such an extent that he issued a warning to young musicians. In a recent interview around his decision to pull his music from Spotify, Crosby warned, “don’t become a musician.”

The songwriter later clarified that this hasn’t discouraged him, however. Crosby is currently working on several albums, including new music with his son James Raymond, along with Stevens and Willis as The Lighthouse Band. 

“What James and I are doing, and what the Lighthouse Band are doing, we’re making records anyway, because we love making records and because we think music is a lifting force,” said Crosby. “You can quote me. I believe this hippie bullshit. I think music is a lifting force, and I think these are really hard times, and people need the lift.”


Watch David Crosby’s performance of “Ohio” alongside Shawn Colvin and Jason Isbell below.

Photo by Scott Dudelson/Getty Images.

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