While David Crosby was preparing for his liver transplant in the ’90s, he discovered that the child he had given up for adoption in 1962 had been searching for him. Crosby finally reunited with his long-lost son, James Raymond, and as fate would have it, he’s also a musician. Raymond is a successful keyboardist and composer.
Crosby was in his early 20s when Raymond’s mother became pregnant. “She gave him up for adoption and didn’t tell me he existed,” he says. Raymond was born when his father was young. Crosby declines to identify the mother with whom he had a fleeting relationship, but he admits they put their son up for adoption immediately. Crosby never forgot the son he gave up.
When Raymond and his partner were about to have their first child, his adoptive parents suggested he might want to track down his biological parents. “So he went to check and he sees my name there and he thinks: ‘Nah, couldn’t be.’ So he checks first names and middle names [Van Cortlandt] and realizes, yeah, it is me. He’d already been a musician for 20 years when we met up – “so anybody who tells you it’s not genetic, you tell them come talk to me.”
As his health deteriorated while he waited for a new liver, David Crosby’s thoughts drifted to the boy. “I was in the hospital dying, and I knew that I had a son out there someplace,” Crosby told The Baltimore Sun. “I had been beating myself up for years about not being there for this kid.” Crosby says, such reunions end up in animosity. “But James did a wonderful thing, man. He gave me a chance to earn my way into his life.” How did he do that? “By making music with him.”
Raymond had already made a name for himself in music, having pursued classical and then jazz from a young age. He was the musical director for a successful Nickelodeon series and a sideman for acts including Chaka Khan. From an early age, Raymond knew he was adopted, but he didn’t seek out his birth father until he was living on his own. Discovering his dad was David Crosby came as a shock.
The father-son duo got along well from the start. “He was this nice, decent young guy, and we became friends immediately,” Crosby said. “We write spectacularly well together.” He says the final song on the album, For Free is Crosby’s favorite. It is I Won’t Stay For Long, which was written by Raymond. The album came out July 23, 2021 and was also produced by Raymond. Crosby says, “Imagine how I feel about my son being that good a writer. I wear it like a garland of flowers on my head. It’s just fucking wonderful.” They began playing music together and soon they formed the jazz-rock band CPR (Crosby, Pevar & Raymond). By January 1997, CPR was touring and performing.
On his website, Raymond talks about his work on the album – “Lyrically, where I started was this visual of agricultural workers in the Central Valley of California, truck drivers, laborers starting their workday early in the cold of morning … knowing that it would get hot as hell as the day wore on,” Raymond said. “I wanted to speak of their resiliency and spirit and that of so many other working folks across the USA.” Crosby added his storytelling and voice, and the results are an iconic father-son collaboration.
James John Raymond is a musician, songwriter, producer and film composer living and working in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I discovered on his website LINK>James Raymond that the composer contributed some additional music to one of my all time favorite movies – 2007’s August Rush. If you want to know more about him and his craft here is a somewhat technical explanatory YouTube.
I can’t help but think of my youngest, musical genius, son. This is the kind of YouTube, my son might make someday regarding his own compositions. My son does things like this YouTube with his Geometry Dash gameplay. He frequently composes music on his computer and posts it online, as well as playing it for us – his family.