recent photo of Stills

May 29, 1969:  Stephen Stills penned his epic “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes”–

Stills recalls that the song’s segments “poured out over several months and filled  several notebooks…” and then came the idea to join all these segments into one long suite. The result was the classic album opener to the album Crospy, Stills and Nash. The song was inspired by Stills’ muse at the time, the folksinger Judy Collins.

LYRICS

It’s getting to the point where I’m no fun any more
I am sorry
Sometimes it hurts so badly I must cry out loud
I am lonely
I am yours, you are mine, you are what you are
You make it hard

Remember what we’ve said, and done
And felt about each other
Oh, babe, have mercy
Don’t let the past remind us of what we are not now
I am not dreaming

I am yours, you are mine, you are what you are
You make it hard

Tearing yourself away from me now, you are free
And I am crying
This does not mean I don’t love you, I do, that’s forever
Yes, and for always

I am yours, you are mine, you are what you are
You make it hard

Something inside is telling me that I’ve got your secret
Are you still listening?
Fear is the lock, and laughter the key to your heart
And I love you

I am yours, you are mine, you are what you are
And you make it hard
And you make it hard
And you make it hard

Friday evening
Sunday in the afternoon
What have you got to lose?
Tuesday morning
Please be gone, I’m tired of you
What have you got to lose?

Can I tell it like it is?
Help me I’m suffering
Listen to me baby
It’s my heart that’s suffering
Help me, I’m crying to you
It’s dyin’ and that’s what I have to lose

I’ve got an answer
I’m going to fly away
What have I got to lose?
Will you come see me
Thursdays and Saturdays
What have you got to lose?

Chestnut brown canary
Ruby throated sparrow
Sing a song, don’t be long
Thrill me to the marrow

Voices of the angels
Ring around the moonlight
Asking me, said she so free
How can you catch the sparrow?

Lacy lilting lady
Losing love lamenting
Change my life, make it right
Be my lady

Do do do do do, do do do do do do
Do do do do do, do do do do

¡Que linda me la traiga Cuba,
La reina de la Mar Caribe
Quiero sólo visitarla allí
Cielo sol no tiene sangre allí!
Y que triste que no puedo. ¡Vaya!
Que lástima que no puedo. ¡Vaya!
O Va! O Va!

First section

This section of the song is a traditional pop song. It has the chorus “I am yours, you are mine, you are what you are.” It runs for approximately 2:55. It features a solo sung by Stephen Stills. David Crosby and Graham Nash, meanwhile, sing harmonies.

Second section

This section is much slower and features a solo sung by Stephen Stills. It runs from 2:55 to 4:43.

Third section

This section becomes more upbeat and features more poetic lyrics. It starts at about 4:43 and runs until 6:25. It leads directly into the fourth and final section.

Final section

The final section (the coda) is sung in Spanish. The section starts at about 6:34 and runs until the end of the song. The “doo-doo-doot” backing vocals make the lyrics difficult to make out for some listeners. Stills has been cited, perhaps apocryphally, as saying that he intentionally made the final stanzas unexpected and difficult, even using a foreign language for the lyrics, “just to make sure nobody would understand it” (not even Spanish speaking people).

This section has been parodied many times, notably in Frank Zappa’s compositions “Billy the Mountain” and “Magdalena” on The Mothers of Invention’s album Just Another Band From L.A.

In the mid-1960s, Stephen Stills attended Lincoln School in San José, Costa Rica. The private school was attended mainly by upper-class Costa Ricans and had many foreign teachers and students. Stills’s longtime musical collaborator, the Cuban percussionist Joe Lala, plays on the recording of the song.

The lines might be transcribed as follows:

¡Que linda! Me recuerda a Cuba
La reina de la Mar Caribe
Quiero sólo visitarla allí
Y que triste que no puedo. ¡Vaya!
O Va! O Va! (varies in different recordings)

A rough translation into English might read:

How pretty! I’m reminded of Cuba
The queen of the Caribbean Sea
I only want to visit her there
And how sad that I can’t. Oh!
(“It’s a pity that I cannot. Oh!”)
Oh go! Oh go!
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