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Stephen Stills – So Begins The Task lyrics
Lyrics taken from http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/s/stephen_stills/so_begins_the_task.html
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One of several classic songs Stills penned during and after his relationship with singer Judy Collins back in the 60s, the most legendary of which being "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" performed by Crosby, Stills and Nash. Most of these songs existed in final form prior to this most acclaimed musical partnership beginning, as made apparent from a recently discovered, thought lost, recording of Stills performing these songs solo in studio on a single night - since released on CD simply as the believed date of recording: "April 28, 1968." "So Begins the Task" however, was only first released commercially when Stills formed his project "Manasses" (c.1972). Since, several versions and performances have emerged.
This tune clearly falls into the 'after' category. He anticipated the relationship's failure (I have dreaded the coming of for so long); waiting for her to perhaps open herself emotionally (camping on the edge of your city...); suggestion of a certain problematic narcissism (might see beyond yourself... bars that cage you within...) [incidentally, not an unusual personality characteristic for beautiful female singers - and who can blame them? They know themselves possessed of a 'divine voice']. The final verse is curious, however, with mention - or lingering hope? - of 'cages being set aside' to allow for 'knowing' (ourselves, each other?). "Actors and stages now fall before the truth" suggests an end to deception (self- or otherwise), and 'the love shared between us remains growing' indicates further coming-together, between the two. Yet the song ends with the chorus repeated about living without, and 'as part,' that is, individually, rather than whole, as a unit of two incomplete individuals become one according to the classic romantic notion of love. So did the two break up or reconcile? The facts make clear: they broke up.
It seems that through this ending Stills is showing the irony of how the breakup actually created more of the closeness and mutuality Stills had found unable to gain while in the relationship. Indeed, without the airs, concerns, and anxieties which may haunt a relationship, as the members seek to make out of it what they will while interpreting and negotiating the wishes and desires of their partner, a certain space required for honest communication is opened.
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