Stephen Stills

The new disc, Live At Berkeley 1971 is out now.   I got it yesterday and it's on repeat.  I am biased I am sure, but I think he is one of the best singers, songwriters, musicians of my generation.  Plus he plays Sugar Babe on this disc, a favorite of mine, from SS2.




my copy is enroute. I know that this disc sounds sweet on your Luxman players.


Happy Listening!

I think that he was clearly the beast writer in CSNY. I'll look forward to hearing it.


You mean, "Bluebird", recorded with B. Springfield?


The only time I caught him live was in ’74 at the Hollywood Bowl. My high school friends and I had nosebleed seats but Stills was on fire. I guess you could call him a "beast" in that regard. And "Manassas" is one of a very small handful of discs by C, S, N or Y that I still listen to, at this point.



OK. Got it. Had no idea they covered this -- when you said you were a "huge SS fan", I erroneously assumed you were specifically referring to his own compositions.  

Yeah; this is pretty good. Personally I find many performances from that '74 tour were degraded rather than enhanced by drug intake but I realize this is a minority opinion. 

This is my favorite version of his Tree-Top Flyer...

Thank’s for the tip. I am listening to it now, Qobuz. Funny, I just finished listening to the version from Four Way Streets.

It is enjoyable. The sound quality not quite as good as 4 Way Street, but still great. It is great to have another album where they were sober enough to perform… there were so few.


The album really takes me back… 

Love the music from all of the members of CSNY (Neil Young outside of a string of crappy albums such as The Monsanto Years where he was more concerned about making statements than quality albums/songs). Saw the frenetic Stephen Still at the Ogden Theater (Denver) many years ago. Neil Young’s now ex-wife opened. His microphone sat all by itself with a wide berth around it so he could move around like Joe Cocker. He put on an incredible show. Then saw CSN at Red Rocks in 2012 (album CSN 2012). That was a magical show. We felt like we were the youngest people there (almost 40). My favorite cut was when everyone cleared off the stage aside from David Crosby, on a elevated platform at the far right of the stage with a full moon over his head and the Denver skyline in the background, and he belted out “Almost Cut My Hair” while playing his acoustic guitar. That show, and particular this moment, were hypnotic for both myself and my wife. So glad I got to see them all together. Their harmony is second to none! 

"Hey, Knives, this is Stephen StillsHe's the talent." -Scott Pilgrim


That movie is chalked full of CSNY jokes/references and in this case, musical fact.

Yes SS is good, but best writer is CSNY?  One only has to look at the prodigious catalogue that belongs to Neil Young to know who wears that crown. IMHO 🤣


Yes, Neil has produced a lot of music, but quite a bit of it has been sub-par too.

"Yes, Neil has produced a lot of music, but quite a bit of it has been sub-par too."

The only reasonable way of comparing songwriters is best-to-best. Say, best 10 vs. best 10 (even Dylan wrote some crap, you know). But this gets tricky, because we're really comparing specific recordings --products of particular times and places and equipment and drug intake and other variables -- not comparing sheet music.


@roxy54 @hickamore  I'll handicap Neil and say let's just take the Albums Harvest and Freedom.  I believe they were both voted Album of the year a decade apart?  I don't think, again IMHO, that SS wrote that many classic songs in his entire career?  If it gets close, we can throw in On the Beach, Rust Never Sleeps, Tonight's The Night, After the Goldrush.........  🤣  

SS has definitely written a lot of good music.

My favorite SS track is "4 and 20" from the "Deja Vu" album. It’s a simple, haunting song written by SS and performed by him exclusively. When he played it for CN & Y, they were awe-struck, saying it was perfect as-is and no contribution from them could make it any better, so it remained a rare solo effort on a CSN & Y album.

It was a favorite of mine when it was released and remains so today.

I had the album "Stephen Stills 2" in my youth. I played the daylights out of it. Some entertainers work really hard for their fans. Stephen just plain oozed talent. A very gifted man.

@bigtwin NY and SS are both very talented….bur “For What its Worth” will always be a knockout punch in a head to head.

I’m a SS fan.  But often wonder what the Hollies would have produced if GN would have stayed with them?

Funny I saw the title and said, No, he's died too? Then I sighed of relief. I've been listening to Long May You Run the last few days and find myself loving Stephen more and more. At least on this album his songs are the best.


@ghasley I guess we will just agree to disagree on this one my friend.  I do agree with @mwinkc that "4 and 20" is a hauntingly beautiful song and that still gives me a little chill each time I listen to it, all these years later.  

@roxy54 @bigtwin And "Powderfinger."

Look out, mama, there’s a white boat comin’ up the river
With a big red beacon and a flag and a man on the rail
I think you’d better call John ’cause it don't look like they’re here to deliver (pause) the mail

Here the lyrics are complete and the guitar simply amplifies, rather than substituting for, superfluous words as in "Southern Man" and "Ohio." Those two would make little sense to later generations, but if you lived through the times, as we did, no other songwriter captured the essence of fascist violence as Young did. "What if you knew her and / found her dead on the ground? / HOW CAN YOU RUN WHEN YOU KNOW?"

Stills wrote song great songs, but come on, this is like comparing the 1985 Los Angeles Lakers to the Washington Generals. Neil Young is in a small handful of the greatest songwriters in rock and roll history, having recorded at least half a dozen albums that are widely and rightly considered among the best rock records ever made. Relatively speaking, Stills isn't much more than a footnote.

@hickamore You are preaching to the choir.  Powderfinger is tour de force and a favorite of mine.  It's kind of silly debating who's the better songwriter.  We all have our favorites and no one is likely to change their minds.  But still, through the decades, I have been blown ways over and over by the mastery that is Neil Youngs song writing.  From the complexity of Crime in the City (Freedom) or the simple lines from On The Beach "Though my problems are meaningless, That don't make them go away, I need a crowd of people, But I can't face them day to day".  IMHO, Young and Dylan are two of the greatest song writers of the generation.  

I probably wasn't clear in what I said. I don't look at talent or art in the "American" way, where everything has to have a "best" this or that. I do prefer and enjoy the songwriting of Stephen Stills to Neil Young, but that said, Neil has written many fine songs. Graham and David also had some fine songs individually as well as together.

@mwinkc I feel the same way about 4 + 20. It's a simple masterpiece. 

Both are fantastic in their own rights. Let's not take away from the fact both probably rank in the top 5% of performers. But you can not overlook "The Last Trip from Tulsa", by Neil. In my mind, it gives him the edge. Just an eerily wonderful performance! To me, it is one of the best songs ever recorded. I know that is a bold statement but it is what it is. 

Long time SS fan.  Fortunate to have seen him perform live, on many occasions. One of the best": ~'73 San Francisco, Winterland, Solo w/ 1st half acoustic followed by the electric second half.  Pure Stephen!

I believe For What Its Worth will continue to endure for many gets played a lot, appears on many songlists.

Manassas is a great album, and 4+20 is a late night song that still resonates with me as strongly as when it was first released.

IMHO its ludicrous to compare Stephen and Neil.


I just looked up Last Train to Tulsa on youtube because I don't have that disc, and I didn't know the song. To me, it's a great example of how different music moves different people. I had a hard time even getting through it, with his horrible guitar strumming and the lyrics that sounded "poetic" but didn't really seem to make sense.

We all find meaning in different things, and that's good. There is something for everyone.

I agree with awboat! Anytime I see an artist name now, it’s with a gasp. Loved CSNY, but as the years go by, I realize how much talent Stills has, maybe its just my taste but he is my favorite.

Always been a fan of CSNY and have enjoyed their music for longer than I care to mention, WTS, Neil Young has always been one of my go to artist and in steady rotation in my home. About 10 years ago the album For What It's worth came up for reissue and I was not aware of this album, WOW what an eye opener for me on the qenius of Steven Stills and it forced me to go back and revisit his career and his contributions. I believe Neil's music got me right off the bat, as he was very forceful with his lyrics and easy to paint a musical picture that as a younger man, was easy for me to get and it took an older version of me to understand the music SS was composing. For me their is not a best and a runner up between the two and I believe that their time together benefitted both of them and us as well. Enjoy the music

I saw CS&N in the 70's. And, I saw Stephen Stills with a band that he found in South America. I believe that too was in the mid 1970's and I've never heard anything from or about that band since. Wondering if anyone here knows what became of them?


To me, it’s a great example of how different music moves different people. I had a hard time even getting through it, with his horrible guitar strumming and the lyrics that sounded "poetic" but didn’t really seem to make sense.

I prefer "the Old Laughing Lady" off that album. I find it deeply evocative and emotionally engaging but don’t ask me what it’s about! The chord changes, melodic contour, use of space and resonance of the open tuning combine to shape my internal state in a pleasing manner. Dylan’s "Visions of Johanna" has a similar effect. Having a clear sense of narrative somehow isn’t of critical important for me in such songs.

However, if the formal elements are themselves off-putting, then it’s game over from the start. You mentioned "horrible guitar strumming". In my case, it’s the classically trained voice. You want to torture me? Lock me in a room and force me to listen to opera! As to why we have these preferences, who knows? Music affects us many different levels -- not all of them conscious-- and we can have very (!) strong likes and dislikes. We may try to justify our preferences with quasi-objective rationales but I can’t help but suspect we don’t fully understand what’s going on beneath the surface.


I agree with you on that. I said that the lyrics of that Neil Young song meant nothing to me, but I love the lyrics of other songs by early REM, Duran Duran and Roxy Music which are also obscure and don't necessarily have a clear meaning, and yet I find those words very evocative as you said, and they have deep meaning for me.

I too pickup his “new” album, Live at Berkeley — it’s classic Stills from razor sharp guitar licks to his soulful voice.

I’ve seen he and “the boys” (C,N,&Y) on several occasions and they rarely disappointed. The last time was a bit hard — they’re all getting on in years and poor Stills has lost his hearing and, as a result, his voice.

But they’ll go down as one of the all-time great bands — IMHO of course!

Stephen Stills - Creem Magazine - "I ain’t no Dylan, you know. I haven’t got the gift of the language, I don’t think. In my opinion, I think I’ve written some really nice phrases, but it’s inconsistent. What happens to me is that I want to hear the music so bad that I’ll write bullshit lyrics… cruddy lyrics. And I’ve gotta get out of that somehow, but I’m not happy with my lyrics lately. And also, I don’t want to write… I don’t even want to talk politics. I don’t want to write any of that. And I find it hard writing happy songs and I’m a little too happy to write so much blues. I’ve written some funny songs this time. I wrote a song where the changes are… I’ve used them twice before in two different songs and it’s called “This Is My Favorite Set of Changes”. I’ve already used them in a couple of songs before and thought I’d play them one more time. I’m just trying to tell some stories is all. Not trying to be some great lyricist. Now Neil Young is a great lyricist. If you really wanted to hear some great songs, Neil Young would write words and I’d write the music. It would just be out-a-site. ‘Cause he’s an incredible lyricist, he really is.

Neil and I used to have guitar wars on stage that were really stupid. It was really funny. I wouldn’t play the game except every once in a while when I’d get in a mood. It was just pathetic. I started playing lead guitar in the Buffalo Springfield and it was okay. I never played anything that was really bad, other than that I played too loud. The fights started getting really good and I guess that fights started becoming a little too much to take or something. ‘Cause it got weird."

I saw Stills in Boston years ago, doing a solo acoustic concert.  I splurged on box seats.  It was the best concert ever.  He has amazing talent as a musician, singer and songwriter.  


"The fights started getting really good and I guess that fights started becoming a little too much to take or something. ‘Cause it got weird."

Seems the same thing happened later with CSN&Y. 


@jrosemd was that show at Symphony Hall? When I saw him at Music Hall, he left a great deal of the singing to the back up singers. People were saying that too much cocaine use affected his septum which made it difficult for him to sing. That seems believable enough.


“…this is like comparing the 1985 Los Angeles Lakers to the Washington Generals. Neil Young is in a small handful of the greatest songwriters in rock and roll historyRelatively speaking, Stills isn't much more than a footnote.

Thank you.  
Magic’s my favorite player ever, and even though I’ve been a huge Neil fan with many, many albums on various formats and playlists galore for over 25 years, my appreciation for him has only grown with age.  
I rewatched Jonathan Demme’s gorgeous ‘06 documentary/concert film Neil Young: Heart of Gold again recently.  
What a stunner. 10/10. Highest recommendation to anyone who hasn’t seen it.  
Neil fandom not necessary.

His playing on Judy Collins's recording of "First Boy I Loved" perfectly complements her amazing delivery of the song.

"Relatively speaking, Stills isn't much more than a footnote.


I have rarely read a more ignorant comment.