Everydays (Stephen Stills) — 1967

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This page is derived, through many revisions, from a post published on this site on 16 September 2012. The latest edit: 28 February 2017.

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Everydays (Stephen Stills)

Buffalo Springfield — recorded on 15 March 1967 at Gold Star Studios, Los Angeles, California; released 30 October 1967 on the LP Buffalo Springfield Again — In December 1967, it was also issued as the B-side of the single “Expecting to Fly” (Neil Young), Atco 45-4565.

Buffalo Springfield band member credits for the album:

notes regarding musician credits for this track:

  • Stephen Stills: lead vocal
  • Jim Fielder: bass, replacing absent Bruce Palmer

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Everydays (Stephen Stills) lyric *

Look at the sad goodbyes
Everydays a-killin’ time
Sun comin’ up outside
No men are born this tide
Saturday’s child stays home
Nothing to say, so wrong

Well, well, well, another day
Well, well, well, another day

Grocery store, tin clerks
Just making change,
plastic jerks
Up in a tree, a jaybird
Yellin’ at me, no words
Everyone looks, can’t see
Can be ignored easily

Well, well, well, another day
Well, well, well, another day

Softenin’ the way with things
Of ecstasy
The sound of trees
Most any breeze
What a baby sees

Beautiful face, alright
Many a place, uptight
Old woman there with red shoes
A million balloons, all hues
Drivin’ the hills, forget fears
Gettin’ it on in second gear

Well, well, well, another day
Well, well, well, another day

Softenin’ the way with things
Of ecstasy
The sound of trees
Most any breeze
What a baby sees

Lyric transcribed by doc on 21 March 2014, with help from a slightly different transcription by David Redd at davidredd.com/buffalo/

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Kenny Burrell with Don Sebesky Orchestra — recorded on 12 February 1968 in NYC, and released as the first track on the 1968 album Blues – The Common Ground, Verve Records ‎V6-8746

1968 Blues,The Common Ground-Kenny Burrell, Verve Records V6-8746 (1)session personnel (from jazzdisco.org):
Kenny Burrell – guitar
Herbie Hancock – piano
Ron Carter – bass
Donald McDonald – drums
Johnny Pacheco – percussion
Bernie Glow, Snookie Young, Jimmy Owens – trumpet
Bill Watrous, Jimmy Cleveland, Paul Faulise, Wayne Andre – trombone
Don Butterfield – tuba
Jerome Richardson – reeds
Don Sebesky – arranger, conductor

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YES

A version of “Everydays” recorded by the band YES was included as the third track on side one of their 1970 LP Time and a Word, released in the UK on 24 July 1970 (November 1970 in the US). However, 45cat.com indicates that a recording of the song by YES had previously been paired with “Looking Around” as the B-side of the unreleased single Atlantic (UK) 584298, which it dates October 1969. The date presumably refers to a scheduled release date.

In the Time and a Word version, YES used a heavily modified variant of the original Stephen Stills lyric, one in which so much of the cutting sarcasm of the original lyric had been blunted, softened, or erased that it was rendered safe as milk. Nevertheless, aided by an orchestral arrangement by Tony Cox, the band created an extraordinarily adventurous interpretation. The following clip is from a 1970 Belgian television production also titled Time and a Word.

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Other versions by YES

In the following remastered version (released in 2008) of an early, previously unreleased recording of the song by YES, the words differ somewhat from the Time and a Word version with the Tony Cox arrangement, and in some cases, such as the “Many a place, uptight” line, YES retains the original Stills words where they’ve been altered in the Time and a Word version. The “Everyone looks — you can’t see” and “Soft within the wayward things” lines, and some of the other modifications to the original Stills lyric found in both the Tony Cox arranged version and this one are more clearly heard in this version.

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YES — live performance during a concert at Gothenburg, 1971

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YES — undated version; labeled the “Astral Traveller Version” for unknown reasons

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Recent covers

Ray Bird Band — published on 9 March 2013

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Phil Angotti and Tony Richards — live undated performance, published on 24 January 2016

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Louis Raphael — published on 26 May 2016

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* tin (or “ten”) clerks — The usual phrase given here at lyrics websites is “ten bucks,” which is what Jon Anderson of YES sings on their 1970 recording. Stills evidently sings either “tin clerks,” or “ten clerks.”

plastic jerks — On the YES version, Anderson sings “Just making change for plastic cherries.” Unlike Anderson, Stills does not use the preposition “for” between the two phrases in this line, the second of which appears to be “plastic jerks.”

Several websites have “Templex” and “plastic checks” in the lyric where I’ve got “tin clerks” and “plastic jerks,” respectively, including Buffalo Springfield Lyrics (die-augenweide.de/buffalo), and NeilWiki.wikispaces.com (page defunct as of 12 March 2016), but neither of these terms have any common meaning, or history of slang usage, that I’m aware of. Templex is a small plastics manufacturing company based in North Carolina, currently having an estimated 28 employees. The phrase “rubber check” might be understood anywhere in the U.S. — “plastic check,” no.

The phrase “Just making change” is ambiguous, but in the original Stills lyric might be a knock on grocery store clerks for agreeing to work for such small wages, probably not much more than a dollar an hour, the 1967 federal minimum wage. However, the term “grocery store” doesn’t necessarily refer to a location. It might be used as an adjectival phrase to describe a character type, and be synonymous with “ordinary”  or “everyday.” Everyday people might too easily consent to labor for a pittance because they are “plastic,” and therefore easily molded, manipulated, to suit the purposes of those who pull (or jerk) the strings.

It’s a bit odd that Stills evidently refers to the same type of people as both “tin” and “plastic” in consecutive lines. Just as the phrase “tin soldier” may refer to a person that enjoys playing the role of soldier, the phrase “tin clerk” might refer to a type of person that enjoys playing the role of a clerk, though the analogy is weak.

The phrases “sad goodbyes” and “Everydays a-killin’ time” in the first two lines might also refer disparagingly to people of a certain character type. The latter phrase is ordinarily transcribed as “Everyday’s a killin’ time” (i.e. “Everyday is a killing time”), but read in context it becomes evident that the subject is the collective “Everydays.” The descriptive “everyday,” normally an adjective, serves here as a noun, denoting a particular type of person, or class of persons, and is made plural to refer to more than one such person (cf. the line “someones married their everyones” in the poem “anyone lived in a pretty how town,” by e. e. cummings). This explains the choice of title.

Stills uses the present participle form of the idiom to “kill time,” meaning to spend time idly or engaged in insignificant, meaningless, unproductive activity while waiting for something else to happen. The songwriter directs our attention to the phenomenon of “everydays” spending their time in this manner: wastefully, unprofitably, aimlessly.

It’s ironic that while the original lyric evidently chides “everydays” for their habitual failure, through negligence or dullness of awareness, to appreciate the wonder of life’s happenings — events such as the sunrise, a bird “yelling” at one, the sound of trees, or the sensation of “almost any breeze” — a failure which manifests in the softening or muting of the experience of such events, the YES version of the lyric significantly misinterprets, mutes, and softens the original.

Among changes from the original found in the above YES version are the following:

most significant changes

  • The original Stephen Stills lines “Grocery store, tin clerks / Just making change, plastic jerks,” are deprived of their bite by being hammered into the random and meaningless “Grocery store, ten bucks / Just making change for plastic cherries.”
  • Rather than the jaybird “yelling at me,” YES has it merely “looking at me.”
  • The Stills line which evidently goes “Softenin’ the way with things,” has its meaning and import obliterated by being transformed into the dreamy and vacuous “Soft within the wayward things” in the YES version.

other changes

  • The line “Everyone looks, but can’t see” is modified to “Everyone looks — you can’t see.”
  • The original, subjectless line “Can be ignored easily,” which evidently refers ambiguously to things that “Everyone looks” at, but “can’t see,” is modified to the more specific and self-referring “We can be ignored easily.”
  • “Most any breeze” is blown into “Most anything.” Some transcriptions of the Stills version have the original phrase as “Most any please.” Some YES versions (see below) have instead the dissimilar and inapt phrase “Most of these.”
  • “A million balloons” is slightly modified to “One million balloons.”
  • The line “Drivin’ the hills, forget fears” in the Buffalo Springfield version, is expanded to “Drive over hills, forget your fear” in the YES version.
  • “Gettin’ it on in second gear,” is refitted as “Gettin’ it out of second gear.” The most common meaning of the slang phrase “get it on” that I’m aware of is “have sex,” but this meaning may have become more prevalent in the 1970s. By “gettin’ it on,” Stills may have meant something akin to the also dated “gettin’ down,” or “gettin’ off,” in the sense of enjoying an uninhibited good time. It could also have been the equivalent of “getting turned on,” “getting high,” or “getting a buzz on.”**
  • The Stills line “Many a place, uptight” seems to have been rehabilitated as the upbeat “Many a place, outta sight,” but in this case the change made by YES may have been dictated by a late 1960s shift in the hip slang usage of the word “uptight.” Ordinarily, the word “uptight” has had negative connotations, meaning “tense” (1934) or “straight-laced” (first recorded in 1969) according to the Online Etymology Dictionary. However, it was briefly adopted (from c. 1962) in jazz slang to mean “excellent.” Though by 1969 “uptight” was definitely an uncool state to be in, the “excellent” meaning still had currency in 1965 when Stevie Wonder recorded his song “Uptight (Everything’s Alright)” which features the lines

Baby, everything is alright
Uptight, clean out of sight

** One of the other slang meanings of “get it on,” is “hurry up” or “go fast,” but this wouldn’t make sense in the context of the present line, because second gear allows only relatively slow speeds, but it’s a gear that may be necessary under certain driving conditions, for example, climbing steep hills.

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