How George Harrison Inspired David Crosby’s 1971 Song “Laughing”

In the wake of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young‘s 1970 No. 1 album Déjà Vu, all the members were pursuing solo projects. Graham Nash released his debut, Songs for Beginners, by 1971, while Stephen Stills was on his third release, and Neil Young was in between After the Gold Rush and Harvest.

David Crosby was also working on his 1971 solo debut, If I Could Only Remember My Name, which included singles “Music is Love” and “Orleans,” along with a song he wrote and recorded earlier called “Laughing.”

George Harrison
The idea around “Laughing” came after George Harrison told Crosby about the guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who The Beatles had spent time with while studying transcendental meditation in 1968. Though Harrison believed in the guru, the other Beatles were a bit skeptical of their newfound sage.

“I was very taken with George,” said Crosby in 2022. “I liked him a lot. He was very friendly to me. He invited me over to his house. We had dinner together. We talked a lot. Paul [McCartney] was very friendly to me, John [Lennon] was very friendly to me, Ringo [Starr] was very friendly to me, but the one that I had the relationship with was George.”

Crosby continued, “So, George gets a hold of me one day and he says, ‘I met this fellow in India. A teacher, a guru that I like a lot.’ And I said, ‘Really? No shit?’ And he said, ‘Yeah. I think he’s got something.’ And I said, ‘Well, that’s wonderful.’ And what I wanted to say … ‘Take it with a grain of salt,’ because I am a skeptical person about religious teaching.”

The Meaning

In general, Crosby was suspicious of most religions, but held his tongue around his friend and instead wrote about his skepticism on “Laughing.” In the song, he explains why he was mistrustful of the man who knew what was going on.

I thought I met a man who said he knew a man
Who knew what was going on
I was mistaken, only another stranger that I knew

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