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Veteran folk-rocker continues his half-century of music with his latest album, ‘Sky Trails,’ out Sept. 29.
USA TODAY

David Crosby likes to laugh. Maybe it’s because he’s delighted with absurdities while still animated by a childlike playfulness. It’s also a way of coping with things that come with time’s relentless passage. But it’s mostly because Crosby has a lot to be happy about.

“I’m at the end of my life!” he proclaims, almost gleefully. “I should be someone you see on crutches who says, ‘Hi there, sonny! Remember me?’ But I don’t feel like that at all. I feel great! Over these past three years I’ve written and recorded my three best records — bang, bang, bang, just like that. And I’ve never been prolific. I used to write maybe two or three songs a year. So it’s a little puzzling, man. I’m supposed to be fading out.”

MORE: Exclusive: Listen to David Crosby’s new song ‘Curved Air’

That subversive cackle, his use of “man” to punctuate his sentences, hark back to the Sixties, when Crosby helped spearhead the American rock renaissance as a member of The Byrds and herald a new folk/rock synthesis with Crosby, Stills & Nash. But aside from his singing voice, virtually unchanged in its timbre and expressivity, his latest album, Sky Trails (out Sept. 29), draws little from that well.

For this, Crosby credits the influence of his son James Raymond. Given up for adoption shortly after his birth in 1962, Raymond arranged to meet his father 30 years later; the two have been close musical collaborators since 1997.

Despite the differing musical characteristics of his recent solo albums Croz (2014), Lighthouse (2016) and Sky Trails, Crosby tends to see them as a unified work, something like a triptych self-portrait. “Of course I’m proud of the work that happened with The Byrds,” he says. “I’m proud of he work that happened with Crosby, Stills & Nash — and with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, which was as completely different band. But after 40 years together, most bands devolve to the point where they just turn on their smoke machine and play their hits. That’s what happened to Crosby, Stills & Nash. We didn’t like each other anymore. We were not having fun. So I got out….