Track-By-Track Guide To The Music Of Stephen Stills
via Stephen Stills - Topic/YouTube
Showcasing His Genius
Stephen Stills may be best known as a member of Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young but he also managed to have a successful solo career. Neil Young called him “a genius” and that’s pretty much the best way to describe the man. He has penned several classic hits and his debut solo album featured Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton – making it the only record with both guitar heroes in it.
Here are five of Stephen Stills’ best works:
5. “Sit Down I Think I love You” (with Buffalo Springfield)
One of his earliest compositions, Stills wrote it even before Buffalo Springfield was formed. At the time, he wanted to write tracks that “were personal statements and had something to say.”
4. “Carry On” (with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young)
Stills wrote this specifically as the opening track to “Déjà Vu” since they needed something catchy. So Stills took two songs – one of which was “Questions” which he penned for Buffalo Springfield – and then edited them. It inspired Led Zeppelin’s “Friends”. Session drummer Dallas Taylor said, “The song was written in the middle of the Deja Vu sessions, when Nash told Stephen they still didn’t have an opener for the album. It was something of a message to the group, since it had become a real struggle to keep the band together at that point. Stephen combined two unfinished songs and stuck them onto a jam we’d had out in the studio a few nights before, me on drums and Stephen on a Hammond B-3 organ.”
3. “Love the One You’re With”
Stills’ biggest hit single, it was inspired by a remark from musician Billy Preston – “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with”. Stills asked for permission to use the tag line and Preston agreed. According to soul singer Doris Troy, however, it was her who told Stills “Love the one you’re with, Sugar!” John Sebastian, Rita Coolidge, Priscilla Jones, David Crosby and Graham Nash provided background vocals.
2. “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” (with Crosby, Stills, and Nash)
It’s about singer/songwriter Judy Collins, Stills’ former girlfriend who’s well known for her beautiful and piercing blue eyes. They dated for two years and Stills once revealed that she was in the studio during the recording of the demo tapes. The band opened their set at Woodstock Festival with this song. Stills recalled, “It started out as a long narrative poem about my relationship with Judy Collins. It poured out of me over many months and filled several notebooks. I had a hell of a time getting the music to fit. I was left with all these pieces of song and I said, ‘Let’s sing them together and call it a suite,’ because they were all about the same thing and they led up to the same point.”
1. “For What it’s Worth” (with Buffalo Springfield)
It might be considered as anti-war but Stills actually drew inspiration from the Sunset Strip curfew riots in 1966 – the same year Buffalo Springfield became Whisky a Go Go’s house band. After its release, it became a popular protest song but according to Stills, “We didn’t want to do another song like ‘For What It’s Worth.’ We didn’t want to be a protest group. That’s really a cop-out and I hate that. To sit there and say, ‘I don’t like this and I don’t like that’ is just stupid.”