The Croz lifts the lid on the ups and downs of his life and career
You have your first studio album in over 20 years, Croz, out this month. Why so long between albums?
Because I love making music with Graham, and I love making music with Crosby, Stills & Nash, and I love making music with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. I’ve made eight solo albums over the years, but I’m a slower writer than, for instance, Neil, who writes three songs a week.
Your new songs are very reflective pieces…
Go ahead and say it: they’re weird. I can handle it!
They’re not that weird! But one thing struck me: in “Slice Of Time”, you say, “My teacher said time was elastic”. You have a teacher? I thought you were the teacher!
No, no, no! I’m the goofball! I don’t have a specific teacher, life is my teacher, but… I’m not in control of what comes out of my head, man! I’m not a constructionist, I don’t sit there and think what would be the cool thing to say. Stuff comes, and I write it down, then I try and shape it as best I can into a song that’s singable. It just seemed right: “My teacher said time was elastic, I wonder what I’ll find in it.” I liked how it sounds.
That seems to be the creative process for many writers: they don’t question it, when it happens, it happens.
I often write some of my best words when I’m falling asleep: when the verbal crystallisation level is going to sleep, another level which makes longer leaps of connection, and is more intuitive, gets a shot at the steering-wheel for a second. It’s that moment of half-awake, half-asleep, and it’s happened over and over again. I had a song called “Shadow Captain”: I woke up at 3am, I was off watch, a hundred miles off the coast of California, I got up from my bunk and wrote the whole song down, as it is now, without changing a word.
I get to the end, “Shadow captain of a charcoal ship, trying to give the light the slip”, and I think, ‘Croz, you are so fucking cool!’ I’m thrilled by it, but I feel as though it’s been trapped in my head, as though I’ve been gifted it.
There are those writers that can go into an office every day, sit down and work at it.
Dylan used to get up in the morning, straight, cup of coffee, sit down at the typewriter – he had a work ethic, which seems like something crazy to say about him. I mean, talk about crazy as a fruit bat! Bob loves to screw with your mind. I went with him to sing on a record, and I said, “OK Bob, show me the song,” and he says, “Ah, let’s just go in and cut it.” I say, “Bob, I’ve seen this movie before, sing me the song, so I’ve got a chance.” He goes, “All right,” looks at me out of the corner of his eye, and he sings me the song, one time. Then he says, “All right, let’s cut this thing!”, we go in the room, and he sings it completely different. On purpose! I’m just out there floundering, trying to find something that I can sing.