Those first passionate (songs) are really special. And later in life you might get deeper and more resonant and more crafted, but they’re not as free as those first ones. You end up out-crafting yourself. You get too cute. Losing the point. Getting contrived. Which is why I admire Bob Dylan so much. He’s managed not to do that. – Stephen Stills to Paul Zollo
Stephen Arthur Stills was born on January 3, 1945, in Dallas, Texas. The first two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee has been a member of numerous bands, including Buffalo Springfield, Manassas, and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.
Like Bob Dylan, Stills went to Greenwich Village in the early 1960’s, but arrived just as Dylan was moving on to bigger things:
As I understand it, I missed Dylan by about a week, about a week before he was playing at Gerde’s and then his album made it, or it was like his album had already made it and he was doing a farewell gig at Gerde’s Folk City. In those days he was into things. I heard a story about Bobby where he ran this great number:
This is just a story that I heard so it might not be true, but he put on a huge cape, a big black cape and a black top hat and he went roaring through Greenwich Village with about one hundred dollars in single dollar bills. And he found some wino crashed in a doorway and he walked up, came swooping up with this cape. He goes “whoosh” and hundreds of bills go flying over the street and he turns around and splits and this wino is standing there . . . it must’ve been a scream. Eccentricity is probably the best escape valve there is for the pressures of success. I hope that story’s true.
Late in the decade, Dylan and Stills were both approached to contribute new material for the film Easy Rider. Uncredited, Dylan wrote a few lines for Roger McGuinn’s “Ballad Of Easy Rider”, while Stills’ song, “Find The Cost Of Freedom”, was not used.
In 1970, while playing the Fillmore East with CSNY, Stills decided to hog the spotlight one night in order to impress Bob Dylan, who was sitting in the audience.
On July 22, 1974, Dylan previewed at least a half-dozen Blood On The Tracks songs for Stills and Tim Drummond at the St. Paul Hilton Hotel, after a CSN gig.
In 1976, Stills and Dylan appeared at both “Night Of The Hurricane 2” and “The Last Waltz”, although they never appeared on stage at the same time.
Dylan and Stills finally collaborated at “The Absolutely Unofficial Blue Jeans Bash (For Arkansas)”, as part of the Bill Clinton Presidential Inaugural. The performance took place at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., on January 17, 1993. Here’s the breakdown, according to Olof:
1. To Be Alone With You (Bob Dylan-lead vocal)
2. Key To The Highway (Stephen Stills-lead vocal)
3. I Shall Be Released (The Cate Brothers – lead vocals)
4. (I Don’t Wanna To) Hang Up My Rock And Roll Shoes
Bob Dylan (guitar), Stephen Stills (guitar), Rick Danko (bass), Garth Hudson (keyboards), Levon Helm (drums), Jimmy Weider (guitar), Richard Bell (piano), Randy Ciarlante (drums), Ronnie Hawkins (guitar), Don Johnson (guitar) and The Cate Brothers.
Stills covered “Ballad Of Hollis Brown” on his 1991 solo album Stills Alone, and “Girl From The North Country” on the CD/DVD set, Live at Shepherd’s Bush. The latter song is slated for inclusion on the next CSN album. Stills also cut “It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry” with Al Kooper for the Super Sessions album.
When CSNY reunited in 1999 to record the album Looking Forward, it included a song called “Seen Enough”, which was “inspired by” Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues”. (Originally, Dylan received a co-writing credit.)
On Theme Time Radio Hour, for the “Birds” episode, Dylan couldn’t decide whether to play The Beatles’ “Blackbird” or Buffalo Springfield’s “Bluebird”, so he flipped a coin. “Bluebird”, written by Stills, won. I guess Paul McCartney’s “Bluebird” was not in the running.
SIDE NOTES: For his first studio session ever, Harvey Brooks played bass on Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited album. Later, he played on 1968’s Super Session album with Michael Bloomfield, Al Kooper and Stephen Stills. Stills has also played at the three most famous rock festivals of the late 1960s: Monterey Pop, Woodstock, and Altamont.
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