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“Southern Cross”

Posted by purplemary54 on October 26, 2013

“Southern Cross” might be my favorite Crosby, Stills, & Nash (and sometimes Young) song ever.  It’s just a simple lost love song–heartbreak and loss on the high seas.  Sailing here is a metaphor for healing and moving on.  Stephen Stills sort of wrote this; it’s actually a reworking of another song by two other guys. (The quote from Stills given on Wikipedia says “Once again, I was given somebody’s gem, and cut and polished it.”

This one shines like a diamond to me.  I know nothing about sailing (except that there is no way on God’s Green Earth I will ever do it).  The sparkling harmonies and shimmering guitar help make it perfect.  It was easy to respond to the fine production and sincere emotion (Stills wrote this after his divorce in the early 80s).  But what really sold this song to me is this one line: “She is all that I have left, and music is her name.”

I’ve never been so down, so heartbroken, that I truly felt like music was the only thing I had left, but it’s always been where I find solace.  It heals me.  It balances me.  That’s why I try to make sure I listen a little bit every day.  It’s why I sing along in the middle of the grocery store.  It’s why I spent $250 on an iPod.  This particular song is very healing itself, which I suppose means Stephen Stills did his job on this one very well.  Or maybe this song did it’s job on him.  Because for all the sadness here, there is forgiveness and hope . . . and a tiny touch of bitterness at the end (hey, he’s only human).  I imagine writing this was cathartic and healing for him, just like the trip he based it on was.  That’s what music does best.  It brings our feelings and lives into focus, lets us share all those undefinable things in a way everyone can understand.

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6 Responses to ““Southern Cross””

  1. 45spin said

    I too really like this song and I am not a big Steven Stills fan. This song strikes me as an odd love song in that his redemption lies in his running away from her. Yet after he has run away he tries to call her as in the following verse,

    In a noisy bar in Avalon I tried to call you.
    But on a midnight watch I realized
    Why twice you ran away.

    He know he screwed up, and yet he ran away.

    I guess the reality of love to rock stars is far different than the rest of us.

    • Well, it is a break=up song, after all. I think he shows a lot of understanding of the relationship and why it ended at the end: “So we cheated and we lied and we tested, and we never failed to fail. It was the easiest thing to do.” I think they both blew it, and cut their losses.

  2. . . . thought this was simply a song about Still’s sailboat “Southern Cross” and it’s natural way of taking him back to square zero

    • I did a little research, and that’s the info I got from Wikipedia. There’s always a chance it’s wrong (it is Wikipedia, after all), but the story of Stills’ divorce and sailing trip seems to fit.

  3. . . . the video is my only source. it just feeds the assumption. then there’s the cover of “CSN” — my personal CSN fave — w/ the three on A sailboat and Stills sporting the same red woolen hat. Crosby was a sailing enthusiast too as well as Fleetwood Mac’s John McVie. if I had the time and money I’d follow suit

    • If it was a cruise ship (that wasn’t owned by Carnival), you might get me out on the water. 🙂 But I totally get the sense of freedom and peace that sailing must bring to those inclined. It kind of makes sense that musicians would like it.

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