CSN – Southern Cross

Great song by Crosby, Stills, and Nash. It peaked at #18 in 1982 in the Billboard 100. The song was on the album Daylight Again that peaked at #8 in 1982. I like some of their catalog…mostly the radio songs. I did see them live in 1987 and you had to appreciate their voices live.

This was written by Stephen Stills, Richard Curtis, and Michael Curtis. Stills said: “The Curtis Brothers brought a wonderful song called ‘Seven League Boots,’ but it drifted around too much. I rewrote a new set of words and added a different chorus, a story about a long boat trip I took after my divorce. It’s about using the power of the universe to heal your wounds. Once again, I was given somebody’s gem and cut and polished it.”

From Songfacts

The “Southern Cross” is a constellation also known as the Crux Constellation that can be viewed from most of the Southern hemisphere. The 4 brightest stars within the constellation form a cross pattern. Sailors have relied on the “Southern Cross” to help in navigating their boats. The national flags of Australia and New Zealand have versions of the Southern Cross on them.

Jimmy Buffett covered this on his 1999 album Buffett Live: Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays

There is a vocal mistake in the line “But it’s as big as the promise, the promise of a coming day.” One of the vocalists says “coming” on the first “promise.” >>

Since this song is based on a song called “Seven League Boots,” it bears mentioning that seven-league boots are a common magical artifact which crops up repeatedly in many European folk and fairy tales. They’re a pair of boots which allow the wearer to take strides that are seven leagues (21 miles, 33.8 kilometers) long. The same concept of footwear that greatly increases one’s traveling speed or stride is adapted into many role-playing and video games.

This same year that “Southern Cross” came out also saw David Crosby arrested on drug-related charges. He would be in and out of court on them numerous times until he finally turned himself in for an 8-month sentence.

The video for this song, with a ship a-sail, saw heavy rotation in the early MTV years, providing a soft rock respite from the European pop acts that dominated the network at the time.

The cover art for the Daylight Again album features an enigmatic domed structure on a rocky hilltop, flanked by three glowing blue flying saucers. The US was in the midst of a resurgence in UFO popularity in the late-’70s and early-’80s, bolstered by the writings of Chariots of the Gods author Erich von Daniken and renewed interest in Area 51.

Southern Cross

Got out of town on a boat goin’ to Southern Islands
Sailing a reach before a followin’ sea
She was makin’ for the trades on the outside
And the downhill run to Papeete

Off the wind on this heading lie the Marquesas
We got eighty feet of the waterline nicely making way
In a noisy bar in Avalon I tried to call you
But on a midnight watch I realized why twice you ran away

Think about
Think about how many times I have fallen
Spirits are using me, larger voices callin’
What Heaven brought you and me cannot be forgotten

Around the world (I have been around the world)
Lookin’ (lookin’ for that woman girl)
Who knows she knows (who knows love can endure)
And you know it will

When you see the Southern Cross for the first time
You understand now why you came this way
‘Cause the truth you might be runnin’ from is so small
But it’s as big as the promise, the promise of a comin’ day

So I’m sailing for tomorrow my dreams are a-dyin’
And my love is an anchor tied to you (tied with a silver chain)
I have my ship and all her flags are a-flyin’
She is all that I have left and music is her name

Think about
Think about how many times I have fallen
Spirits are using me, larger voices callin’
What Heaven brought you and me cannot be forgotten

I have been around the world (I have been around the world)
Lookin’ (lookin’ for that woman girl)
(Who knows love can endure)
And you know it will
And you know it will

So we cheated and we lied and we tested
And we never failed to fail it was the easiest thing to do
You will survive being bested
Somebody fine will come along make me forget about loving you
And the southern cross

Wild Tales: A Rock and Roll Life

This is Graham Nash’s autobiography.

Graham narrates the audible version and does a good job weaving through his personal history. He starts with his blue-collar family and how Alan Clarke and he knew each other since school and formed The Hollies. The most interesting part to me was the mid-sixties era living in swinging London.

He wrote about his friendship with the Beatles and him getting an advance tape of Sgt Pepper from Brian Epstein. He had a great hi-fi system at his flat and he would show it off to anyone that came over. When the Turtles came over from America they were blown away by Sgt Peppers at top volume. He went on about how Sgt Peppers changed everything and it would eventually lead him to leave the Hollies.

Graham describes being a pop star in the mid-sixties in London. Shouldn’t we all live that life? Paul McCartney calls him up and invites him over to the All You Need Is Love session for the “Our World” program to be broadcast to millions.

He talks about how his friendship with Mama Cass led to meeting David Crosby and eventually CSN being born. Graham covers the CSNY period and his romantic relationships including  Joni Mitchell. He does cover the drama associated with CSNY and the troubled David Crosby. What kind of Rockstar bio would it be without drugs… Graham did his share and Crosby did our share. Graham handled them better than some.

Graham would write simple songs compared to Crosby, Stills, and Young but many times his songs would be the hits that drove some of the later albums…songs like “Just a Song Before I Go” and “Wasted on the Way.”

One thing I can say is he didn’t hold back or pull punches…but he still comes off as a really nice guy but it is his book.

This book helped sever his relationship with Crosby…for now anyway but Nash stressed through the book how much he cared for Crosby.

I would recommend this book to not only Hollies and CSNY fans but fans of 60’s and 70’s music and culture. After reading this I listened to more Hollies songs and I really began to appreciate their psychedelic period with songs like King Midas in Reverse.