"I got everything I know from Stephen Stills. Those people who thought Clapton was God hadn't heard Stills play acoustic guitar." – Michael Hedges
This performance was filmed in 1989 when CSN joined bandmate Neil Young at the 1989 Bridge School Benefit Concert, Shoreline Amphitheater, Mountain View CA.
Stephen Stills interview from 2012:
Interview: Stephen Stills talks guitars, CSN, classic songs, Jimi Hendrix
By Joe Bosso, June 28, 2012
"Jimi was astonishing. Very dear, a dear soul."
Stephen Stills looks out the window of his hotel suite in Short Hills, New Jersey, and dreams of bentgrass fairways. It's a clear blue sky outside, and the temperature is an easy-to-take 77 degrees. "Man, I should be playing golf on a day like this," he says.
Today's a show day – there's Carry On, Marrakesh Express, Almost Cut My Hair, Our House, Suite: Judy Blue Eyes, among others, and Crosby, Stills and Nash could easily triple the set with just as many biggies. The band members (along with their occasional fourth mate, Neil Young) are all Rock And Roll Hall Of Famers, twice each, in fact, when you consider their previous bands, The Byrds, The Hollies and Buffalo Springfield.
Throughout his career, Stills' guitar playing, a bold amalgam of folk, rock, blues, country and jazz has complemented (and sometimes eclipsed) some of the most astonishing recordings in the rock era. None of which is on Stills' mind as we sit down over coffee for a 90-minute conversation.
The 67-year-old musician admits that he finds the interview process a trying one. "But it's just that some of the questions I've gotten over the years have been so banal," he says, and if that's a not-so-thinly veiled warning, it's coming through loud and clear. Having said that, Stills takes a sip of coffee, settles back and asks, "Where do we begin?"
There's a new live CSN DVD and CD coming out, but will there be a new studio album soon?
"Well, there's the DVD, right, a live set. The thing's done, it's ready to go. But an album? We won't make another album, we won't finish one… [He sneezes, three times in a row.] Excuse me a second. [He gets up, goes into another room, sneezes three more times. Then he comes back in, shuts the window and sits back down.]
"Sorry. All the stuff that's coming in the window is making me sneeze. And there's a box set of my stuff coming. Here, wait… [He goes into another room, comes back and hands us four reference CDs.] My career.
[Scanning the titles] Wow, this is incredible. There's so much material here – lots of unreleased stuff.
"That's right. It was supposed to be three discs, but I don't want to have to do it again, so I said just do four. That, along with Manassas: Pieces and Just Roll Tape, that pretty much covers it. There isn't much more left off that I care about. [Takes the first CD, looks at it.] There's a track on there, it was when I was about 16 or so. I was living in Costa Rica, so this is from the Voice Of America.
"I went to this guy's apartment, which was covered from wall to wall with tape recorders and listening stuff – way more than you need for a radio station.
"So he recorded me doing this thing. The song itself is absolute pabulum, but the guitar picking, it's fully formed, just like I do it now – the best way to spend an hour." [Laughs]
What was your first guitar? It was a Kay, wasn't it?
"Yeah. It was a Kay or a Harmony, one of the two. It could have been a Silvertone. One of the kids down the street had a four-string ukulele, and that's the first thing I played. I
Jimi Hendrix –
"Not much taller than me. A little wisp of a guy. Very soft spoken. I wouldn't be able to hear him today – my ears are so bad, even with these. [Points to a hearing aid in his right ear.] But he was funny, and he taught me a great deal about playing lead.
"I remember he was showing me something and I said, 'Jimi, Jimi... put your hand up.' So he held his hand up, and I put mine next to his, and I said, 'That's Wilt Chamberlin. This is me. Your thumb is longer than mine. I can't do what you're doing.' So he went, 'Oh yeah…' And he figured out a way to show me the same thing.
"Jimi was astonishing. Very dear, a dear soul. We'd decompress and talked for hours and hours."
You guys did a lot of jamming together.
"Yeah, but I went through it, and a lot of it is waiting for somebody to start something. It isn't really usable. It deteriorates into giggles and then the tape stops. I've been through it.
"There's a couple of things in there. Now that the family has worked their business out, I've done some of the things I did at Electric Lady with him. I've finished a couple of those. There's one song that's sitting there in want of a lyric - there's babbling but no good lyric."
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