Our 10 Essential Stephen Stills songs list is placed in chronological order. This was tough because Stephen Stills had so much success in the late 1960s and early 1970s with Buffalo Springfield, Crosby Stills Nash and Young and his solo career. We could have filled a top 50 Stephen Stills songs list from just that early five years period. However, Stephen Stills has continued to write and record songs up to 2017 as of this writing. So we have spread this list out over the years the best we could while still limiting it to ten. Stephen Stills wrote every song in this list.
# 10 – For What It’s Worth
We open our 10 Essential Stephen Stills songs list with a legendary song written by Stephen Stills when he was a member of Buffalo Springfield. The great Stephen Stills song “For What It’s Worth” was released on Buffalo Springfield’s second pressing of their debut album entitled Buffalo Springfield. The album was released in 1966. The song “For What It’s Worth” was originally released as a single and added to the album on the second pressing.
“For What it’s Worth” was a massive hit for Buffalo Springfield in 1966 as the song became a top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100. Interestingly, every song on Buffalo Springfield’s debut album was written by Stephen Stills or Neil Young.
# 9 – Four Days Gone
Buffalo Springfield released three studio albums before the band broke up. In 1968, Stephen Stills left the group to form Crosby Stills and Nash. Richie Furay formed POCO with Jim Messina, who would later join Kenny Loggins as part of Loggins and Messina. Neil Young became essentially Neil Young. We would have loved to have chosen more Stephen Stills songs from Buffalo Springfield for our Stephen Stills songs list, but we had so much more to cover, which limited our choices. Our second choice was released on Buffalo Springfield’s final album entitled Last Time Around. The great song “Four Days Gone” also featured excellent lead guitar work by Mr. Neil Young.
# 8 -Suite: Judy Blue Eyes
If you had to pick one Crosby Stills & Nash sons that you could ever listen to again, tell me it would not be “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.” This incredible piece of music was written by Stephen Stills and released on the band’s debut album simply titled Crosby Stills & Nash. The album was released in 1969. the song “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” was released as the second single from the album after the release of “Marrakesh Express” as the band’s debut single.
Stephen Stills‘ “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” was exceptionally long for a single, clocking in at over seven minutes. Nonetheless, the song was a top 40 hit, peaking at number 21 on the Billboard Hot 100. It also became a staple on FM radio, becoming one of the most-played classic rock songs ever.
# 7 – Helplessly Hoping
Stephen Stills’ song “Helplessly Hoping” was also released on the Crosby Stills & Nash debut album. The song was placed as the b-side to the album’s debut single, “Marrakesh Express,” written by Graham Nash. From an arranging point of view, Stephen Stills dominated that album as he was responsible for almost all the record’s guitar, bass, and keyboard parts. Dallas Taylor played drums, and Crosby & Nash added some guitar parts here and there, but in the end, most of the instrumentation on the album was performed by Stephen Stills.
# 6 – Carry On
Neil Young joined Crosby Stills & Nash in 1970 to form the quartet Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. The four brilliant musicians would record their first album together entitled Déjà Vu. Choosing whose songs got recorded and released between these four brilliant musicians and songwriters must have been tough. Stephen Still got three of his songs recorded for the album, including one he co-wrote with Neil Young. The album’s opening track was written by Stephen Stills entitled “Carry On.” The song was released as the fourth single from the record.
# 5 – Love The One You’re With
While Crosby Stills, Nash & Young were enjoying tremendous success with their work together on record, the four talented musicians were also celebrating the releases of their solo albums. In 1970, Stephen Stills released his first solo album entitled Stephen Stills. The album’s leadoff track and first single, “Love The One You’re With,” became Stephen Stills’s most successful solo single. The song reached number 14 on the Billboard Hot 100. One could not turn on the radio in the early 1970s without hearing Stephen Stills’ “Love The One You’re With.”
Stephen Stills’ first solo album featured an incredible cast of musicians. Two of the greatest guitar gods of all time performed on the album. Both Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton played on some of the album’s songs. Ringo Starr, Booker T. Jones, Rita Coolidge, David Crosby and Graham Nash also performed on the record.
# 4 – It Doesn’t Matter
The great Stephen Stills song “It Doesn’t Matter” was released on the album Manassas, which was also the name of the new band Stephen Stills band in 1972. The group recorded two albums from 1972 to 1973. While hardcore Stephen Stills and Crosby Stills Nash & Young fans are familiar with Manassas, the group has not gotten the recognition it deserves on a more massive scale in classic rock history. The group consisted of Stephen Stills, Chris Hillman, Al Perkins, Paul Harris, Dallas Taylor, Calvin Samuels and Joe Lala.
“It Doesn’t Matter” was released as the album’s single. It registered on Billboard’s top 100 but peaked at number 61. The song was written by Stephen Stills, Chris Hillman, and Rick Roberts. “It Doesn’t Matter,” opened side three of the two record set.
# 3 – Dark Star
In 1977, Crosby, Stills & Nash released their second album as a trio. It had been eight years since the band released their debut album in 1969. Of course, there was Déjà Vu. with Neil Young in 1970, but the release of CSN in 1977 was surprisingly only the second album the trio had released together. Stephen Stills’ song “Dark Star,” opened side two of the record. It was never released as a single, but it was a fan favorite instantly.
# 2 – Isn’t It So
Stephen Stills’ song “Isn’t It So” is the first Stephen Stills song on this list that was not released in the 1960s or 1970s. That’s not to say that Stephen Stills did not continue to release great music from the 1980s on. It defines the incredible body of work that Stephen Stills was responsible for in the 1960s and 1970s.
“Isn’t It So” was released on the Stills Alone album. The record was released in 1991. While bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden were releasing dark music that captivated the rock and roll scene, Stephen Stills was going it alone. Just Stephen Stills on a guitar with a handful of great songs sung in that legendary voice. Keeping it real, keeping it simple and keeping it great.
# 1 – Judy
We close out our 10 Essential Stephen Stills songs list with a great song from his album Everybody Knows. The album was released and billed as Stills & Collins. It was the first time that Stephen Stills and Judy Collins ever released an album together. The album was released in 2017. The song “Judy,” represented the second time Stephen Stills composed a song about Judy Collins, the first being Suite: Judy Blue Eyes. It is the perfect way to bookend our 10 Essential Stephen Stills songs list,
Updated January 11, 2024