inkwell.vue.213 : Dave Zimmer - "4 Way Street: The Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young Reader"
permalink #0 of 231: David Gans (tnf) Thu 6 May 04 11:02
    


Dave Zimmer returns to the Inkwell to talk about "4 Way Street: The Crosby,
Stills, Nash & Young Reader."

Born and raised in the SF Bay Area, schooled at UC Davis, and inspired to be
a writer by the music of Stephen Stills (as well as Croz, Nash and Neil),
Dave has had the good fortune to live out some of his dreams while pecking
away at an old Royal manual before surrendering to the digital age and
learning his way (just enough) around a computer keyboard.

Before completing a 13-year run with MCA/Universal/Seagram/Vivendi as a
communications writer/editor, Dave's days as a music journalist were mostly
spent at BAM Magazine, where he was a writer and editor from the late '70s to
the turn of the '90s, writing pieces on such artists as Tom Waits, Roseanne
Cash, Jefferson Starship, Todd Rundgren, Robbie Robertson, k.d. lang and
Randy Newman as well as Mssrs. Crosby, Stills & Nash and Neil Young.  He
wrote "Crosby, Stills & Nash: The Authorized Biography" (featuring more than
275 photographs by Henry Diltz), published by St. Martin's Press in 1984,
with an updated edition published by Da Capo Press in 2000 (which remains in
print).

Dave was the editor of and a contributor to "4 Way Street: The Crosby,
Stills, Nash & Young Reader" (Da Capo Press, February 2004), a collection of
more than 30 articles on and interviews with CSNY, individually and
collectively, from 1969 through 2002, by such writers as Ben Fong-Torres,
Cameron Crowe, Joel Selvin, Ellen Sander, Lenny Kaye, Peter Knobler, Roy Carr
and Vicki Wickham.  Dave currently works in the publishing industry in New
York City and lives in West Orange, New Jersey with his wife, son and dog.


Our interlocutor for this discussion is Tony Bittick.  As a veteran newspaper
reporter/columnist, Tony says his favorite writing years were the ones spent
sticking his head in speakers and chasing down mid-level bands as a
writer/photographer.  Today, Tony earns a paycheck and supports a family of
five, a beagle and a budding aquarium working in the world of corporate
communications.  When he's not coaching soccer, hockey or baseball, or
serving as a human jungle-gym for his kids, he spends his "free time" as a
photographer, freelance writer and media consultant.

A casual fan of Crosby, Stills and Nash, Tony dove head deep into the rock
trio's music and history after reading a copy of David Crosby's book, "Stand
and Be Counted," and ultimately Dave Zimmer's biography of group.

Tony's music writing/photography career experienced a rebirth after a 10-year
hiatus when he was asked to do some work for CrosbyCPR.com, the Web site for
Crosby's band CPR. Tony credits David Crosby directly for "reawakening the
muse" and indirectly for leading him to the Well more than two years ago.
  
inkwell.vue.213 : Dave Zimmer - "4 Way Street: The Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young Reader"
permalink #1 of 231: look, it's all right there in front of you... (cmf) Thu 6 May 04 17:25
    
Dave...

Let me start by welcoming you back to the Well, it is of course, very
nice to have you here again.

Most fans of CSN and or Y will reconize, if not your name,certainly
your work as the author of the primary biography for the group.

This book is filled with literature that really serves as something of
a living retrospective to the band. I want to talk a little about how
you selected these particular articles, but first, having already
authored the biography, what was it that inspired you to go back at it
and come out with this book? 
  
inkwell.vue.213 : Dave Zimmer - "4 Way Street: The Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young Reader"
permalink #2 of 231: Dave Zimmer (waterbrother) Thu 6 May 04 20:13
    
Hey Tony,

It's always nice conversing with you. Thanks for making this happen
and getting the topic rolling.

What inspired me to go back at it with these guys?  To be honest, ever
since I finished the updated edition of the Crosby, Stills & Nash
biography back in late 1999, with stacks of magazines, clipping files,
photographs and posters housed securely in plastic tubs in my attic, I
was thinking that someday it would be nice to read a collection of some
of the best articles that had been written about CSNY over the years.
I wanted to see a permanent record of the best pieces on Stills, Croz,
Neil and Nash that I felt captured the essence of CSNY. I really wasn't
certain I was going to be the one to do this book. I just knew I
wanted to *read* it. 

While a lot of old and new articles on the guys were turning up on the
Internet over the next couple of years, no one was stepping forward to
try and do a book like the one I imagined.  So in 2002, in the wake of
CSNY's Tour of America, I was buzzing with renewed enthusiasm for
their music and pitched the concept of a CSNY Reader to Da Capo Press,
the publisher of the CSN bio I did with my friend, photographer Henry
Diltz. 

Luckily, I found an ally in Da Capo Senior Editor Ben Schafer, who got
genuinely enthused when I verbally layed out my vision for this book
over drinks at a bar in New York. Within two weeks, a deal was done,
and I was flying high with the realization that many of the contents of
those tubs in my attic were going to be presented between two covers
as I'd always hoped they would be.  
  
inkwell.vue.213 : Dave Zimmer - "4 Way Street: The Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young Reader"
permalink #3 of 231: look, it's all right there in front of you... (cmf) Fri 7 May 04 04:22
    
Dave... the most precious commodity any of us has is time. The one
burning question I can't get away from is why have you spent so much of
yours dedicated "spreading the word".

We both know that this was a labor of love and not a financial boon.

I share a great many of your feeling for the band so I think I
understand on a personal level, but I'd like to hear you say it and for
our other particiants to hear... this was a great deal of work on your
part in a very short amount of time.
  
inkwell.vue.213 : Dave Zimmer - "4 Way Street: The Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young Reader"
permalink #4 of 231: Dave Zimmer (waterbrother) Fri 7 May 04 06:29
    
Time certainly is precious ... and the hours, days, years I've spent
working on projects related to CSNY I would count among the most
precious moments of my life. 

It's human nature to gravitate toward things that make you feel good.
And delving into the music and lives of CSNY has always brought me
pleasure ... even though it has taken a lot of time and effort. But I
rarely think about that. And when I do, it's about how these projects
take me away from time I should be spending with my wife and son. But I
certainly never think about it from a financial standpoint.

If me and my family had to survive on the trickles of money that have
come in from books and articles that I've done on Crosby, Stills, Nash
and/or Neil Young over the years ... we'd be living in a tent or a
cardboard box.  Thankfully, I've always had other things going that
have allowed me to dedicate pockets of time to these CSNY projects that
bring such happiness to me and, I always hope, to others.

Even though, ostensibly, this 4 Way Street book would seem like a
simple thing to do ... just collect a bunch of previously published
articles together, get permission to republish them, slap together an
intro, some connecting text and, voila ... a book appears. Wasn't that
easy. Took more hours that I can calculate over about a six month
period after having spent more than 30 years collecting and saving
content. The culling process was immense. The organization was tricky.
Thankfully, I had some help from such friends as Paul Higham, Scott
Oxman, and my editor, Ben Schafer, among many others who are noted in
the Acknowledgments pages in the book.

Finding photographs to accompany the text was another element that I
added in. The publisher didn't request it, but I *wanted* images in
there to illustrate the stories. I didn't care if it added another
layer of effort and frustration. I've read countless other "Reader"
books that include few or no photos and I always felt cheated, like
there was something missing. I was determined that 4 Way Street would
not be like those other books. 

The shape the collection took was up to me, and I was happy to have
the responsibility and kept focused on my goal. I wanted 4 Way Street
to stand as the definitive collection of writings on CSNY. Even though
it was not possible to include every piece I wanted, I think the final
number and order of pieces work pretty well as a tapestry that captures
moments in time, painting the story of the lives and music of CSNY
with a pretty diverse palette of words and images.  

  
  
inkwell.vue.213 : Dave Zimmer - "4 Way Street: The Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young Reader"
permalink #5 of 231: Dave Zimmer (waterbrother) Fri 7 May 04 06:37
    <scribbled by tnf Fri 7 May 04 08:12>
  
inkwell.vue.213 : Dave Zimmer - "4 Way Street: The Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young Reader"
permalink #6 of 231: look, it's all right there in front of you... (cmf) Fri 7 May 04 07:49
    
You mention being focused on your goal. Can you elaborate? Were there
certain things with this book you hoped to achieve, and if so are you
far enough away from the project at this time to determine how
successful you were in achieving those goals?
  
inkwell.vue.213 : Dave Zimmer - "4 Way Street: The Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young Reader"
permalink #7 of 231: David Gans (tnf) Fri 7 May 04 08:12
    

(Response #5 was a duplicate of #4, deleted by me.  Carry on!)
  
inkwell.vue.213 : Dave Zimmer - "4 Way Street: The Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young Reader"
permalink #8 of 231: Dave Zimmer (waterbrother) Fri 7 May 04 08:47
    
Thanks for digitally erasing my error, David.

As for being focused on a goal, Tony ... I meant, and I thought I
articulated it in post #4, that I wanted the book to stand as the
definitive collection of writings on the CSNY gang. I'm probably too
close to the project to objectively judge whether or not I reached that
goal. But I was pleased when Nigel Williamson, a writer for Uncut
magazine and author of several music books, including one on the
stories behind Neil Young's songs, called 4 Way Street *the ultimate
CSNY anthology.* Also, my valued friend John Einarson, the author of
many great books, including ones on Neil Young and Buffalo Springfield,
used the words *definitive collection* in his kind quote for the book
jacket. So, if people I respect are using words of praise that centered
my objective, I'm very happy.

Beyond that broad general goal, I wanted to make sure that 4 Way
Street worked as a cohesive book rather than read like a hodge-podge of
articles that were simply cobbled together. That's why I tried to keep
the thread of CSNY going from beginning to end, so there would be a
feeling of progression, a fluid narrative, with different voices that
illuminated different parts of the band's legacy.
  
inkwell.vue.213 : Dave Zimmer - "4 Way Street: The Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young Reader"
permalink #9 of 231: look, it's all right there in front of you... (cmf) Fri 7 May 04 09:18
    
That's great praise indeed.

Can you talk to us a little about the process that went into story
selection... and do you have any count or idea of how many articles you
acutally made your way through in order to find the ones selected for
the book?
  
inkwell.vue.213 : Dave Zimmer - "4 Way Street: The Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young Reader"
permalink #10 of 231: Dave Zimmer (waterbrother) Fri 7 May 04 10:22
    
Before the culling process began, the number of writings that I
initially gathered together for 4 Way Street totaled about 150.  This
included not only pieces that I had in my personal possession, but
articles from Scott Oxman's CSNY Archives, pieces from UK publications
that were found by my friend, Paul Higham, and writings that I
discovered by visiting Dolf van Stijgeren's www.4waysite.com and
Lorraine Kaczorowski and Ramiro Agredo's www.suitelorraine.com.  

I then organized the writings by era and artist. I wanted to maintain
a balance. I didn't want to weight the book too heavily toward one era
or any one of the four artists. This process involved sitting up in my
attic, surrounded by stacks of paper, trying different combinations and
establishing a list of *essential* pieces. 

Among the early *must include* writings were the following: an excerpt
from Ellen Sander's book Trips: Rock Life in the Sixties; Ben
Fong-Torres' 1969 story on CSNY and his *David Crosby: The Rolling
Stone Interview* from 1970; Cameron Crowe's 1975 Rolling Stone
Interview with Neil Young and his 1977 Rolling Stone article on CSN;
Peter Knobler's 1977 Crawdaddy article on Stephen Stills; Lenny Kaye's
1970 article on CSNY that originally appeared in Circus; my fall 1979 Q
& A interview with Graham Nash that was publised in BAM in February of
1980; Roy Carr's 1972 New Music Express interview with David Geffen;
The Sounds Talk-In with Neil Young and Stephen Stills by Allan
McDougall and Penny Valentine from 1970. There were others. Those are
the *essential* that come to mind. 

One of the hardest choices I had to make involved cutting out a
wonderful Q & A conversation between David Crosby and Steve Silberman
that was published in 1995 in Goldmine. As great as the piece is,
however, I finally determined that such a small portion of it dealt
with CSNY that it would throw the book's balance out of kilter.  I made
a similar kind of decision about a 1988 interview of mine with Neil
Young. I cut the Q & A down from 35 to the eight questions and
responses that dealt with CSNY.

If I had not adhered to the CSNY thread rule, it would have made the
job of cutting down the selections almost impossible. But with that
vision in mind, within three months I'd cut the number down to about 50
articles. I needed to get closer to 30.  That's when my editor Ben
Schafer helped me close in on that number ... which was 31, in the end.
  
  
inkwell.vue.213 : Dave Zimmer - "4 Way Street: The Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young Reader"
permalink #11 of 231: look, it's all right there in front of you... (cmf) Fri 7 May 04 10:57
    
There are certainly some wonderful writings collected here, but your
book also includes a fair amount of photographs, does it not? Is that
unusual for a "reader" and if so, why?
  
inkwell.vue.213 : Dave Zimmer - "4 Way Street: The Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young Reader"
permalink #12 of 231: Dave Zimmer (waterbrother) Fri 7 May 04 11:44
    
Yes, at least one photograph accompanies each piece.  Some feature two
or three. Most "Reader"-type books do not include this many. Most
include not at all or just an image on the cover. My sense is that the
absence of many photographs in most other books of this kind is a
matter of budget concerns or the editor's reluctance to gather
representative images together if a long time period is covered. It
takes extra time and money, for sure.

I was lucky, though. Photographer Henry Diltz allowed me to use as
many of his shots as I wanted -- some of which also were in our CSN
biography, and several that were not, including the great 1975 shot of
Neil Young in Malibu.  Other photographers also supported the project
with generous hearts, especially Joel Bernstein, Roger Barone, Buzz
Person and you, Tony.

Beyond Henry's many classic shots, including my favorite photograph of
CSNY (which graces the cover of 4 Way Street) and fav image of Stills
-- playing his White Falcon guitar at Madison Square Garden in 1971,
I'm so happy that other key images are in the book, most notably Roger
Barone's shot of Stephen and Neil backstage at the Spectrum in
Philadelphia in 1976; Joel Bernstein's shot of CSN in the kitchen in
Miami in 1977; Buzz Person's 2002 shot of CSNY in mid-jam and your
recent shot of Croz with acoustic guitar at the microphone.  

Last month, a member of the CSN online list, The Lee Shore, sent me an
e-mail and wrote: "the photographs alone make 4 Way Street a book to
treasure." They make the book that much more special for me, too. The
images help bring the stories to life and create a "fifth dimension"
that would otherwise not be there. 
  
inkwell.vue.213 : Dave Zimmer - "4 Way Street: The Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young Reader"
permalink #13 of 231: look, it's all right there in front of you... (cmf) Fri 7 May 04 11:55
    
Dave... I understand or conversation is now live and I'd like to
welcome all of those who may be joining us. Please feel free to add
your questions.

The one compliment I've heard about you, and have shared with you, has
been your ability to tell the story of a turbulent band with a sense
of fair representation to all sides of the story.

So tell us, how the heck have you pulled that off... again.
  
inkwell.vue.213 : Dave Zimmer - "4 Way Street: The Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young Reader"
permalink #14 of 231: Howard Levine (hll) Fri 7 May 04 12:04
    
 Hi Dave - I find it interesting, in light of recent events, to find a note
about Crosby's love of guns early on.  Some things appear to die hard.
  
inkwell.vue.213 : Dave Zimmer - "4 Way Street: The Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young Reader"
permalink #15 of 231: Steven Geoffrey Sak (ssak) Fri 7 May 04 12:05
    

Hi all,

It's been a while since I read the book so some of the specifics are a
little hazy but I do have some general comments.  As I was going through the
book I felt that it would have been useful to have read a biography of the
band to help provide a framework for the articles.  It would have helped put
things into perspective.  I also felt that some of the articles themselves
had the distinct flavor of having been written by sycophants, especially
the earlier stuff.  That said, it provided an interesting historical
perspective.  Finally, I felt that I was missing something in terms of the
underlying "dirt" related to some of the animosities in the band.  Again, a
lot of this would have been cleared up by reading a bio of the band
beforehand.
  
inkwell.vue.213 : Dave Zimmer - "4 Way Street: The Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young Reader"
permalink #16 of 231: Uncle Jax (jax) Fri 7 May 04 12:06
    
Great collection. Took me back not only in the lives of the band
but also into the ambiance of the era. Some of the language in
the interviews is so slangy it may be a bit impenetrable to today's
youth!
  
inkwell.vue.213 : Dave Zimmer - "4 Way Street: The Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young Reader"
permalink #17 of 231: Joyce Richards (joyceincali) Fri 7 May 04 12:18
    
Hi Dave!  I'm in the midst of reading the book now--while listening to
a boot from the recent CPR tour!  What a treat! :-) I'll be back at ya
this weekend!
  
inkwell.vue.213 : Dave Zimmer - "4 Way Street: The Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young Reader"
permalink #18 of 231: Dave Zimmer (waterbrother) Fri 7 May 04 12:47
    
Hey now ... 

I'll get to each post in order ...

I had a response to Tony's comments in #13, then accidentally deleted
it. A quick recant ... in the CSN biography, I had a lot control over
the perspectives from each guy. And during the final editing process,
Stills added in "his side of the story" in a number of places and Nash
did as well.  Croz's views ran throughout.

I while I had less control in the 4 Way Street book, I was able to
pick the pieces and maintain the balance and diversity of perspectives
I felt provided "multi-sides." I tried to keep the wheel turning and
catch the views of each guy as much as possible.

#14: 

<<I find it interesting, in light of recent events, to find a note
about Crosby's love of guns early on.>>

Howard, I think you're referring to the Ben Fong-Torres Rolling Stones
interview, in which David does talk about his "rifles" and why he had
them. The reasons he goes into and about his desire to live in other
parts of the world make sense and certainly do not make him seem like a
violent revolutionary.

#15: Thanks for the valid comments, Steven. You know, I considered
adding a CSNY timeline or "group biography" to the introduction, but
then I chose not to in order to allow the pieces themselves to tell the
tale. To me, the earlier pieces capture the magic without glossing
over the conflicts.  They're in there. And as for "the dirt," Peter
Knobler's 1997 article on Stills and Mark Christensen's mid-80's piece
on Croz certainly don't pull any punches. 

#16: 

<<Great collection. Took me back not only in the lives of the band
but also into the ambiance of the era. Some of the language in
the interviews is so slangy it may be a bit impenetrable to today's
youth!>>

Thanks, Jack. You're about some of the language.  I think Croz uses
the word "cat" about 20 times in the 1970 Fong-Torres interview. The
slang language of the late '60s may sound odd to today's youth culture.
But it's an accurate reflection of the times.

#17:
Hey Joyce, thanks for stopping in.  I look forward to trading words
with you later.
  
inkwell.vue.213 : Dave Zimmer - "4 Way Street: The Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young Reader"
permalink #19 of 231: Dave Zimmer (waterbrother) Fri 7 May 04 12:50
    
Jeez, sorry for the typos in the previous multi-response post, folks. 
I'm a little rusty at this. 
  
inkwell.vue.213 : Dave Zimmer - "4 Way Street: The Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young Reader"
permalink #20 of 231: Dave Zimmer (waterbrother) Fri 7 May 04 13:03
    
Quick corrections: 

#14:
I meant, of course, Ben Fong-Torres' *Rolling Stone Interview* (not
Rolling Stones)


#15:
The Peter Knobler piece on Stills, one of my favorite articles in the
book, was originally published in Crawdaddy 1977 (not 1997). 
  
inkwell.vue.213 : Dave Zimmer - "4 Way Street: The Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young Reader"
permalink #21 of 231: Uncle Jax (jax) Fri 7 May 04 13:57
    
>The slang language of the late '60s may sound odd to today's youth
>culture.  But it's an accurate reflection of the times.

I didn't mean to sound critical ... that was the best part for me in
many ways, that and the just the general ambiance. The articles were
rife with assumptions about the general knowledge and the attitudes of
the readership, things that seemed so obvious that the time that they
passed without explanation, things that re-awakened memories of the
surrealistic and apocalyptic zeitgeist.
  
inkwell.vue.213 : Dave Zimmer - "4 Way Street: The Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young Reader"
permalink #22 of 231: Dave Zimmer (waterbrother) Fri 7 May 04 14:35
    
Jack, I didn't think your comments were critical and I agree that the
"hippie colloquialisms" in some of the articles and interviews
representing the '69-'70 era, in particular, helped color the ambiance
that I've always found attractive. If time-travel were possible ...
Laurel Canyon circa 1969 would be high on my list of destinations.

And, yes, some of the writings make assumptions about the readers'
knoweledge and attitudes which were taken for granted then (e.g.
Fong-Torres writes in his 1969 piece about Croz "hand-cleaning future
refreshments") and may re-awaken fond memories for some readers but not
connect with others.
   
  
inkwell.vue.213 : Dave Zimmer - "4 Way Street: The Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young Reader"
permalink #23 of 231: Uncle Jax (jax) Fri 7 May 04 14:49
    
Yes. The one you mention I think could be divined by the modern
reader, but there were some really obscure ones. I'm at work now :-)
so later at home I will try to dig out some of the stuff I mean that
sort of brought the mindset of the times rushing back in a flashback.
  
inkwell.vue.213 : Dave Zimmer - "4 Way Street: The Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young Reader"
permalink #24 of 231: Uncle Jax (jax) Fri 7 May 04 14:54
    
Anyway, it was great to read all this stuff. I'm not much of a "fan"
type, I enjoy CSN(Y) music and CPR, and had some idea of the travails
of the band and its members, but you've provided a valuable volume
summarizing the long strange trip.

I read your book cover-to-cover with warmest pleasure and the
satisfaction. It was not so much the satisfaction of a rock fan
closeted with his idol, which I'm not and they are not for me. Rather,
I experience the satisfaction of a grandfather who barely survived the
'60's discovering that some talented souls of his generation have
managed to salvage satisfactory lives and family relationships out of
the chaos of coming up through the terribly psychologically
destructive world of rock-superstardom.
  
inkwell.vue.213 : Dave Zimmer - "4 Way Street: The Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young Reader"
permalink #25 of 231: Steve Silberman (digaman) Fri 7 May 04 16:29
    
Dave, welcome!  

I love both CSN(Y) books -- you did an excellent job of both storytelling 
and selection.

I totally understand why my Goldmine interview with Crosby wasn't 
appropriate for a CSNY book -- my own hidden agenda for that interview was 
to tease the Crosby thread out of the CSNY weave, because I often feel 
that Crosby is the most famous obscure musician alive:  everyone knows his 
name, everyone knows his face (if they're over 30 or so), but if you ask 
most people to name a single song he wrote, you often get responses like, 
"Was he the one who sang 'Marrakesh Express'?"

(If anyone's interested in reading the interview, by the way, it's here:
http://www.levity.com/digaland/crosby95.html ).

Dave, I also love your choice of WELL name.  :-)

I have a question about the music, Dave, that will allow you to flaunt 
your most subjective and personal judgement.  If planet Earth was 
about to be sucked into a black hole, which ten songs, by any member of 
CSNY, solo or together, from any era, would you choose to save, and why?


Great to see you here.
  

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