The Croz lifts the lid on the ups and downs of his life and career
A lot of creative people worry that they may lose their ability if they stop using.
I think that’s absolute nonsense, they come up with that to justify their drug habit. I don’t think hard drugs have ever made anybody play or write better, they’ve always been a destructive force. I know they were with me, and you can chart it: the drug-use curve goes up, and the writing curve goes down, at the exact same rate. They cross at a certain point, until you get down here, and I stopped writing. I was only doing drugs.
CSN is like a convoy whose vessels get separated and come back together again periodically.
And we planned it that way. I hate to claim that we made a plan that worked, because we were a bunch of goofballs, but we did make that plan, on purpose, and it did work. We wanted a mothership that we could then go out in ones, twos, threes and fours, to work from. It’s one of the only times in showbusiness that somebody made a plan and it worked.
Did you find it strange that Stephen wanted to invite Neil into the band?
Yes, after what they’d been through before – and, we had the No 1 record in the country! What the fuck did we need him for? But I couldn’t believe anybody could write as well as him. Then I wanted him in the band as well, ’cos songs are it. This is the truth: songs are the jacks-or-better, they’re the essence of the thing. If you don’t have a song, all the production in the world is just polishing a turd. You have to have a song that makes people feel something, that takes them on a voyage: “Eleanor Rigby”, which is one of my all-time favourite songs, takes you to a different place. No other writer in the world at that time would have had the courage to talk about those people. None. We were all writing about, “Ooh, you’re so beautiful, will you suck my dick?” But that song takes you to places you’ve never been before. It’s all about the songs: if you don’t have ’em, you got Whitesnake! You got Kiss! If you don’t have a song, you need fireworks. You have the musical equivalent of wrestling!
So who’s your favourite songwriter?
I think in a hundred years they’ll look back and say, “Who was the best writer?”, and I think it will be Joni. She’s as good a poet as Bob, and she’s a waaay better musician. I produced her first album, and I was breaking up with her at the time. That was not comfortable. Falling in love with Joni Mitchell is a bit like falling into a cement mixer! I could bring you a list of songwriter guys – Nash, James Taylor, Jackson Browne, and so on, who would all testify to that! When we were together, I had a trick I used to enjoy doing. I had the best pot – ’cos I had the first sinsemilla that came into California, a kilo of it – and I’d give people a joint, and they’d be expecting the usual Mexican weed, and they’d be gaga; then I’d say, “Go on, Joni, sing them a song!” Ha ha ha! They’d walk out of my place completely scrambled!