The cocaine song David Crosby loves
Cocaine has killed a lot of things (and people) in the world of music, but it’s been less destructive to the fortunes of Bob Hillman. His tune tackling nose candy’s effect on rock ‘n’ roll was embraced by David Crosby, a man who knows a thing or two about the topic.
West Coast singer/songwriter Hillman’s “Cocaine Ruins Everything” was inspired by David Crosby’s comments about the effect of drugs on music in the ’60s and ’70s. When the song was shared online, its combination of deadpan wit and socio-cultural savvy earned praise from Crosby himself, on the legend’s notoriously outspoken Twitter account. Now Hillman’s getting set to release Some of Us Are Free, Some of Us Are Lost, containing that song and many more sharply observed stories.
“‘Cocaine ruined everything’ is how David Crosby spontaneously characterized the ’70s when I heard him interviewed on Marc Maron’s podcast a few years ago,” explains Hillman, who makes his home in San Francisco, Crosby’s hippie-era HQ. “I took it to mean that the ’60s were reflective and benign, because people were expanding their minds on psychedelics, but the ’70s were tense and closed off because everyone switched over to cocaine. More practically, I think he was also saying that it was actually harder to make music – write, perform, etc. – because everyone was so coked up.”
Hillman’s song uses Crosby’s comments as a jumping-off point. “My only misgiving is that people will think it’s a song about David Crosby,” he says, “when in fact he’s just the impetus. As anyone who gets past the first verse will know, it’s mainly about the difference between the ’60s and the ’70s.” Nevertheless, he decided to tag Crosby on Twitter when he posted his tune. “I’ve tweeted songs at people before, but never gotten a response,” he confides. “David Crosby, on the other hand, engages with his fans all the time, and I thought he might listen. I was driving on highway 80 outside of Sacramento – on the way up to the mountains with my kids – when I checked Twitter absent-mindedly on a bathroom break. He’d not only listened to but liked the song, and re-tweeted the song to his 70,000 followers. Even the commenters seemed to like it! One in a while, it’s nice to get a decisive signal from the universe.”
The Crosby-inspired song is only one chapter in the story of Hillman’s new album. The record was produced by bassist Jonny Flaugher, who has worked with everyone from Shakira to Ryan Adams, and the other half of the album’s rhythm section is drummer Griffin Goldsmith of Dawes. Out on April 5, Some of Us Are Free, Some of Us Are Lost is loaded with expertly forged tunes combining incisive wit, resonant imagery, and transportive melodies. “Carveresque,” an examination of the line between literary mythos and reality; and “You’re Off The Rails,” about a friend heading too far over the edge, are just a couple more of the LP’s additional highlights, whether you hear about them from an iconic rocker with an outsized mustache or not.