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Dave Comments on CSNY’s Southern Cross

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Southern Cross, by Stephen Stills, Rick Curtis and Michael Curtis

Lyrics in italics, snarky comments in regular font.

Got out of town on a boat going to Southern Islands
Sailing a reach before a following sea
She was making 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

[We get it, you are rich and have a boat].

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

[It so hurts when we lose the one we love.
It so hurts at midnight in the lonely hours.
It so hurts when we realize it was our own doing.]

Think about,
Think about how many times I have fallen
[Don’t get me started.
Oh, how many times I have fallen,
Never quite getting back up].

Spirits are using me
Larger voices calling
[These are the key lines of the whole song,
And they are where the poet and Smiling Dave part ways.

The song writer comforts himself with mystical thoughts.
He’s part of a bigger picture,
And really it’s all part of a larger plan,
Losing his girl.
Not only that, he is not fully responsible for his actions,
Because spirits are using him.

Very comforting,
But Dave doesn’t buy it.
Yes, spirits are using him,
In the sense that we are sometimes driven
By unresolved stresses and pain from our hidden past,
And those are the spirits that seem to take control of our lives,

They are not part of some large cosmic picture,
But just tragic grief we suffer
On top of the original grief we experienced in the past.

Yes, it hurts to think of all that waste and useless pain.
And the tragic loss of girl friend it causes.
Nothing comforting here.]

What Heaven brought you and me
Cannot be forgotten
[The poet has reeled Dave back in.
Yes, the joy of being with a person who loves you
Is truly a gift from Heaven.
It comes out of nowhere,
We cannot go fishing for it,
All we can do is prepare ourselves,
Make ourselves worthy of love.

And there is so much to learn on the fly
When she finally shows up and we are one.
Heaven gives us the girl,
And it’s up to us to keep her.]

I have been around the world
Looking for that woman, girl
Who knows love can endure
And you know it will.
[Of course love can endure.
All you have to do
Is not mess up.
Not as easy as it sounds,
But it can be done].

When you see the Southern Cross for the first time
You understand now why you came this way

[Here is the poet’s soul speaking.
He can be moved by Nature’s beauty.
It opens his heart and mind
Like an acid trip for the rest of us.]

Because the truth you might be running from is so small
[It’s as small as the pettiness that drove her away]

But it’s as big as the promise, the promise of a coming day

[Because I’m young and I’m rich and the girls down under are beautiful]

So I’m sailing for tomorrow my dreams are dying
[Because you are gone, my girl]
And my love is an anchor tied to you tied with a silver chain
[And I’m going to grieve and grieve,
Drowning in misery,
Sinking with that silver chain]

I have my ship and all her flags are a-flying
She is all that I have left

[A symbol of hope despite it all]
and music is her name
[Ahh, music! It tells the story we cannot.
It soothes us into thinking the mere passing of time will change us
So that next time we won’t mess up.
The poet is hopeful.
Dave puts his hope elsewhere.
In hard work,
In introspection,
In learning from mistakes
But always the hard way.
Always the hard way.
We learn no other way].

Think about.
Think about how many times I have fallen
Spirits are using me
Larger voices calling
What Heaven brought you and me
Cannot be forgotten

I have been around the world
Looking 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
[To Dave, this part is anticlimactic.
The poet is gone,
And has been replaced by the rationalizer.
He’s explaining how he lost his girl
And starting to pass some of the blame onto her.
We cheated. We lied. We both did it.
Yeah sure. Uh huh.
That’s why she ran away twice,
Because she was the one cheating].

And we never failed to fail, it was the easiest thing to do
[Because escaping from our sad sad ruts is hard]
You will survive being bested
[He’s sending her away in his mind, supposedly comforting her,
As if she’s the one who needs the comforting.
Somebody fine will come along, make me forget about loving you
[And if not, there’s always heroin, right?]
At the southern cross
[The symbol of hope].

TL;DR: Life needs a reset button.
And it doesn’t have one.


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