Happy Birthday Stephen Stills – Here are 10 Great Stephen Stills Songs

I detest talking about myself. There is a reason why people pick up an instrument and put it between themselves and the rest of the world.
–> Stephen Stills

Stephen Arthur Stills (born January 3, 1945) is an American singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist best known for his work with Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. As both a solo act and member of two successful bands, Stills has combined record sales of over 35 million albums. He was ranked number 28 in Rolling Stones 2003 list of “The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” and number 47 in the 2011 list. Stills became the first person to be inducted twice on the same night into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. According to Neil Young, “Stephen is a genius.”

Here are 10 GREAT songs written by Stephen Stills.

For What It’s Worth

Buffalo Springfield.
Recorded on December 5, 1966, released as a single on Atco Records on December 23, 1966.

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Bob Dylan’s best songs – Caribbean Wind (4 versions with lyrics)

“I couldn’t quite grasp what [‘Caribbean Wind’] was about, after I finished it. Sometimes you write something to be very inspired, and you won’t quite finish it for one reason or another. Then you’ll go back and try and pick it up, and the inspiration is just gone. Either you get it all, and you can leave a few little pieces to fill in, or you’re trying always to finish it off. Then it’s a struggle. The inspiration’s gone and you can’t remember why you started it in the first place. Frustration sets in.”
– Bob Dylan (to Cameron Crowe)

He spoke of one song he was particularly proud of, that he’d written “a while back”, that successfully functioned on the level of complexity of his mid-sixties material, taking the listener outside of time (I don’t know that he actually used these phrases; I’m just recalling my impression of what he told me). He said the song was called “Caribbean Wind,” and that he’d try to play it if I’d phone his assistant some afternoon before a show and remind him of my request.
– Paul Williams (BD Performing Artist 1973-86)

We have 4 versions of this brilliant song, the best one is the live versions he played on November 12, 1980.

Pedal Steel version

Rundown Studios
Santa Monica, California
23 September 1980

  • Bob Dylan (vocal & piano)
  • Fred Tackett (guitar)
  • Tim Drummond (bass)
  • Jim Keltner (drums)
  • Ben Keith (pedal steel guitar)

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The Best Songs: Clay Pigeons by Blaze Foley

“Feed the pigeons some clay,
and start talking again,
when I know what to say…”

Michael David Fuller (December 18, 1949 – February 1, 1989), better known by his stage name Blaze Foley, was an American country music singer-songwriter, poet, and artist active in Austin, Texas.

There are two great films about Blaze Foley, the documentary, Duct Tape Messiah and Ethan Hawk’s dramatisation of the Blaze Foley memoir by Sybil Rosen, Living in the Woods in a Tree: Remembering Blaze, called Blaze. Both are good movies, well worth checking out.

Allmusic:
Blaze Foley was raised in West Texas and sang with his mother, brother, and sisters in a gospel act called the Fuller Family. Taking a pseudonym borrowed from Red Foley, Blaze performed in Houston, New Orleans, and Austin through the 1970s and ’80s, developing a strong following and respect from fellow musicians. But it was the Austin music scene, among friends like Van Zandt and Timbuk 3 — whose work Foley was an early champion of — that would become his spiritual and geographical home.

He only released one album in his lifetime, Live at the Austin Outhouse (on cassette). There have been released some good compilation albums after his, much too early, death.

“Through the bleed of a guitar microphone, you can hear stools squeaking, snatches of conversation, and general bar ambience — but at the center of it all is Foley, his deep gritty voice and songs that, much like Van Zandt’s, seem to emerge from a place of bruised, yet hopeful, solitude.”
– Eric Hage (Allmusic)

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Van Morrison’s 50 Greatest Songs

the uniqueness of his vision is rooted in experiences that are common ones. He has freely admitted in song and in conversation that he doesn’t feel the need to know exactly what he is doing in the moment of creativity, or what the `meaning’ of such work might be, … As he once sang, `Enlightenment, don’t know what it is. Thus he is on a journey of discovery, down the road, and each fresh moment of performance has the potential to unlock another aspect not only of the song but of the experience that feeds and informs any given performance of it. As Morrison said in an interview for the BBC in 2006, `I don’t want to just sing a song … anyone can do that … something else has got to happen. He also noted that the moments of achievement or of breakthrough are fleeting glimpses (or we might say `beautiful visions, revealed then clouded over once more): `it’s momentary release … the minute it stops, it’s gone. It is this kind of detail which should give us pause to consider Morrison’s work..
–> Peter Mills (Hymns to the Silence: Inside the Words and Music of Van Morrison)

To create this list we first created our individual top 50 lists and then merged them together. In order to make the final list more interesting and diverse, we restricted our individual lists to include a maximum of 4 songs from any album.
-Egil & Hallgeir

Spotify playlists at the end of the post.





#1 Madame George
Producer: Lewis Merenstein
Album: Astral Weeks (1968)
‘Madame George’ is a whirlpool of emotion and remembrance, of melancholy, joy and empathy. It’s like a beautiful dream that takes you back to a place of innocence and freedom and purity and possibility. Listening to ‘Madame George’ you can hear, you can even smell, those vast blue-sky days of your childhood. ‘Madame George’ is potent music. It’s the eye of Astral Weeks, an album that has been equalled but never bettered. … ‘Madame George’ is thick with atmosphere. The claustrophobia of Madame George’s house, the free air of the kids skipping stones and then it leads up to the coda where Morrison goes into a trance scatting “the love that loves to love” and he’s completely lost into that place beyond words, floating on Davis’ liquid bass lines. Neither Van Morrison nor anyone else has found their way back there.
–> Toby Creswell (1001 Songs. Hardie Grant Publishing)

As Van moved through the songs of Astral Weeks, challenging a rock and roll beat in “Brown-Eyed Girl,” hitting a rave-up with “Sweet Thing,” Van grooving with the bass player, the crowd warmed to him and began to wait, with excitement and patience, for “Madame George,” the most powerful piece of music ever to come from Van Morrison. It’s a story—Van’s words and his voice provide the scary beauty and the instruments the drama. It’s out of Ireland, this song, and in a way it’s something like the childhood tales of Dylan Thomas in Portrait of the Artist As A Young Dog, stories of a child entering into a strange world of adults that can be trusted but cannot be understood. Van moved through the song slowly, getting into it, his singing strong­er with each line, until, gone from Ma­dame George now, he sang his finest verses, a child remembering what childhood meant:

And you know you gotta go
Round that train from Dublin
up the sandy road
Throwing pennies on the bridges down below
Say goodbye to Madame George

It ended softly, Van just whispering with all he had, holding unto the words until the time was right: “The train, the train, get on the train, say goodbye, goodbye…”
–> Greil Marcus (San Francisco Express Times, February 25, 1969)

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Van Morrison’s 50 Greatest Songs Countdown – #1 Madame George

Down on Cyprus Avenue
With a childlike vision leaping into view
Clicking, clacking of the high heeled shoe
Ford and Fitzroy, Madame George

TOC

  1. Facts
  2. Quotes
  3. Lyrics
  4. Live versions
  5. Cover versions

Facts

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Van Morrison’s 50 Greatest Songs Countdown – #2 Into the Mystic

We were born before the wind
Also younger than the sun
Ere the bonnie boat was won
As we sailed into the mystic

TOC

  1. Facts
  2. Quotes
  3. Lyrics
  4. Live versions
  5. Cover versions

Facts

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