Dammit! David Crosby scolded. Hed just heard Marcus Eatons acoustic guitar performance of Holding On to Nothing, one of 11 songs that wound up on the Rock and Roll Hall of Famers first solo album in more than two decades.
I really wanted to play on that, Crosby complained fondly. But you played it better than Im going to be able to play it.
Eaton laughs at the anecdote. Phoning from his home in Sherman Oaks, Calif., where he moved from Boise in May 2012, he gratefully shares stories about laying down tracks for Croz.
Eaton played nearly all of the acoustic guitar on the album, which took more than two years to make. He sang on eight songs and co-wrote two. Hes now a member of Crosbys touring band.
On Thursday, Eaton will appear on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon (11:35 p.m., NBC), helping Crosby showcase the albums shimmering, stratospheric first song, Whats Broken.
The friendship has been evolving for years, but everything still feels borderline surreal sometimes, Eaton admits: meeting Crosby through a mutual friend in 2009; cautiously watching their musical relationship grow; collaborating extensively with Crosby and his son, James Raymond, on Croz; joining Crosbys band for a tour that begins Tuesday; performing two days later on Fallon.
Oh, and singing harmonies with the most recognizable member of Crosby, Stills and Nash ...
Its nuts, Eaton says. Its like otherworldly.
What a huge shot in the arm. Its an awesome experience.
Eaton grew up in Pocatello, the son of Steve Eaton, an accomplished producer and songwriter who penned tunes for Anne Murray, Art Garfunkel, Glenn Campbell and The Carpenters (including a Top 40 hit in 1977, All You Get From Love Is a Love Song.)
Marcus moved to Boise more than a decade ago, performing as a singer-songwriter locally and regionally. A stunningly proficient acoustic guitarist, hes spent the past 15 years on a roller coaster of hopeful highs and disappointing lows. Hes traveled hundreds of thousands of miles gigging, improving, chasing his dream.
Then he met Crosby.
When I spoke to Crosby about Eaton in 2011, it was clear that the connection between the now 72-year-old and 33-year-old was real. Crosby bragged that Eaton played guitar like God on a good day.
But it turned out that it wasnt just Eatons fretboard skills that suited Crosby; it was his voice.
Marcus has this eerie ability to sound exactly like me right above me, Crosby explains in a short making-of-Croz documentary video at RollingStone.com (find it at my Words & Deeds blog).
The discovery was a revelation for Eaton, too.
I had so much fun playing guitar on this album, Eaton says. But singing those vocals was just even beyond that for me.
I got to be all over this thing, man. Its incredible. Its incredible. What a trip. What a huge honor. God, its so fun. The thing thats really fun now is, its kind of a test to see if it would actually work live. Because obviously, theres some nerves involved. This is the first new thing Crosby has done in a really long time. Who knows? What do you do when you get out on stage to see if its going to work?
Ten days ago, they opened a Santa Barbara, Calif., concert by playing the entire album. The second set consisted of classic Crosby material.
Man, it was just awesome, Eaton says. We nailed it. It was killer.
The tour will continue through February. The majority of shows are sold out.
In March, Eaton will focus on recording his own album, which he plans to release later this year. He raised more than $31,000 on Kickstarter to fund it. Hes hoping for Crosby and Raymond to be a part of it.
Eaton and Crosby have many similar musical ideas, unusual as that might initially seem.
We just have the same perspective on a lot of things, Eaton says. The thing that I really love about him in addition to everything else is he just pushes himself to do new things.
I want to keep things progressive and keep moving forward, and hes 72 and doing it. Hes doing it.
The two musicians share a joy for quirky time signatures throughout Croz, which still manages to sound soothing and gorgeous. Maybe its Crosbys voice, but it evokes the 1970s while feeling modern.
That album is a SERIOUS piece of work, Eaton says. Just a serious undertaking. Not for the faint of heart.
The men also have a passion for the perfect song. Thats why Crosby happily acquiesced most acoustic guitar duties to Eaton.
Hes a very humble guy, Eaton says, before summing up his mentor: What a cool person, and a great person to look up to.
STAGECOACH INN WAS NOT THE RANCH CLUB
Last weeks column stated incorrectly that a co-worker witnessed smoking at The Stagecoach Inn. After publication, he realized that he had been at the nearby Ranch Club, not the Stagecoach, which hasnt allowed smoking in years. It was an honest mistake, but a boneheaded oversight on both our parts. We regret the error.
TONIGHT IN THE OTHER STUDIO
Join Tim Johnstone and me as we discuss music and spin new songs from acts including Crosby and The Hold Steady, plus preview a free Monday night concert from bluesy singer-guitarist Hamilton Loomis at Jos Sunshine Lounge in Boise.
The Other Studio airs at 9 p.m. Sundays on 94.9 FM The River.
IN SCENE MAGAZINE JAN. 31
- The Boise Art Museum gets haunted with two exhibits: Anna Fidlers Vampires and Wolf Men and Stacey Steers Night Hunter House.
- A guide to what Treasure Valley restaurants are offering for Valentines Day and how to get a reservation.
Michael Deeds column runs Fridays in Scene and Sundays in Life. He co-hosts The Other Studio at 9 p.m. Sundays on 94.9 FM The River and appears Thursdays on Channel 6 News. Email: mdeeds@ idahostatesman.com. Twitter: @IDS_Deeds