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Helplessly Hoping - Crosby, Stills and Nash

Back we go to the Buffalo Springfield thread. When you've had a tiring (but highly enjoyable) day of Shakespeare workshops in the very pleasant company of a bunch of school teachers, plus some connubial get togethers with hoards of artists, then there's nothing better than coming home to a meal of falafel followed by a hot chocolate accompanied by a soothing dose of West Coast alliteration from C,S and N.

Crosby, Stills and Nash, as far as I am aware, were the first super group to name itself after its members' names, although others followed such as the Souther Hillman Furay Band, Emerson, Lake and Palmer and, bizarrely, as none of them had hitherto been in any famous bands, UK rockers Ashton Gardner and Dyke.

Perhaps they did this because they all had pretty big egos, both David Crosby and Graham Nash having left their respective previous bands, the Byrds and the Hollies, as a result of "clashes of personality", or perhaps it was because they were all in love with Joni Mitchell, and didn't want the others to get a lead on them.

Whatever the reason, from 1969 onwards, they produced some of the finest songs and harmonies that have ever graced rock music. Often the unsung hero of the group was the more introverted Stills. When Neil Young joined them a year later, it was Stills who was the soothing balm that kept the naturally antagonistic opposites of Crosby and Nash on the one hand and Young on the other at peace long enough to record and release the albums that they did.

And you can see why in this thoughtful little ditty about two people who are in love but too shy to express or iterate it to one another. So, in a clever conceit, Stills alliterates it himself, making the repeated word beginnings sound like their stuttering attempts to talk, so that a song about the inability to communicate mutual feelings becomes a beautifully structured and harmonised cantata.

"Helplessly hoping her harlequin hovers nearby awaiting a word; gasping at glimpses of gentle true spirit, he runs wishing he could fly only to trip at the sound of goodbye.

Wordlessly watching he waits by the window and wonders at the empty place inside; heartlessly helping himself to her bad dreams he worries did he hear a goodbye or even hello?

They are one person they are two alone they are three together they are for each other.

Stand by the stairway, you'll see something certain to tell you confusion has its cost: love isn't lying - it's loose in a lady who lingers saying she is lost and choking on hello -

they are one person they are two alone they are three together they are for each other."

The song reminds me of "the Tempest", the chorus of those of us in the workshop today.

And, a bit like Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young themselves, the paradox is that out of confusion and disorder comes beauty and harmony. The perfect after bard mint.

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