Everydays (Stephen Stills)


page originally published on 17 September 2012, with later revisions; latest edit: 15 January 2022


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


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

Softening 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

Softening 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/; latest edit: 20 August 2018



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



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). A recording of the song by YES had previously been paired with “Looking Around” as the B-side of the single (UK) Atlantic 584298, which was issued in October 1969, and possibly withdrawn shortly thereafter.

In both the single and the Time and a Word versions, YES used a heavily modified variant of the original Stephen Stills lyric, one in which much of the cutting sarcasm of the original lyric had been blunted, softened, or erased.

In the October 1969 single version 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. The jaybird, which is “yelling at me” in the Stills original, and “looking at me” in the YES Time and a Word version, is “laughing at me” in the 1969 single version.

1969 single version — issued in October 1969 on the single (UK) Atlantic 584298, as the B-side of “Looking Around”



Time and a Word version — from the 1970 YES album Time and a Word, (UK) Atlantic 2400 006, 2400006, (US) Atlantic SD 8273, featuring an orchestral arrangement by Tony Cox


from the 1970 Belgian TV special featuring four songs from Time and a Word (“Astral Traveller,” “Then,” “Everydays,” and “No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed”) —  IMDb gives the title of the Belgian TV short film as YES, and the release date as September 1970, indicating that it was broadcast in that month.


Other versions by YES

YES — live performance during a concert at Gothenburg, 1971


YES — undated “early” version, presumably recorded in 1969, and evidently included as a bonus track in some re-release of the band’s first album, YES


Recent covers

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


Louis Raphael — published on 26 May 2016


* Among changes from the original Stephen Stills lyric found in the YES Time and a Word version lyric, most of which are present in the other (earlier and later) YES versions included above, 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 mangled by YES into “Grocery store, ten bucks / Just making change for plastic cherries.”
  • The original line “Nothing to say, so wrong” is changed by YES to “Nothing to say, so long,” which completely misses the inference by Stills that Saturday’s child’s habit of staying home with nothing to say is evidence of something being terribly “wrong.”
  • Rather than the jaybird “yelling at me,” as is the case in the Buffalo Springfield recording of the song, in their Time and a Word version YES has it merely “looking at me.” Throughout the original lyric are hints as to why the bird might be “yelling” at the songwriter. The October 1969 YES single (UK) Atlantic 584298, which was recorded and released before the Time and a Word version was recorded, has the jaybird “laughing at me.”
  • The Stills line which goes “Softenin’ the way with things of ecstasy” has its meaning drastically altered in the YES version by being transformed into the cryptic “Soft within the wayward things, like ecstasy.” This cocoon of “wayward things” is likely an invention of Jon Anderson, the lead singer and primary lyricist of early YES, although this and other changes to the original line weren’t necessarily intentional, as they might collectively represent an example of a mondegreen, or of multiple mondegreens in a single line. The word “wayward” doesn’t appear in the original Stephen Stills lyric (1967 Buffalo Springfield version).

    Perhaps the word “way” in the original Stills line refers to one’s path through life, and the songwriter is musing that today is just “another day” in which he finds it helpful or necessary to lean upon “things of ecstasy” that make the journey along that path a bit easier, in effect softening the way. The songwriter evidently appreciates the alleviating or soothing effects of “things of ecstasy,” simple yet wondrous gifts which can take some of the edge off of the harshness of life’s trials — trials which, as the songwriter suggests, might even include something as unpleasant as an encounter with, or even the mere presence in the world of, grocery store clerks, or other people that behave like grocery store clerks.

    • The phrase “of ecstasy” in the original is changed by YES to “like ecstasy.” Stills says “Softenin’ the way with things of ecstasy,” and follows that with a brief list, or a few examples, of “things of ecstasy.” Instead, YES has “ecstasy” as the first item on a list of “wayward things.”
    • Phenomena evidently referred to as “things of ecstasy” in the original lyric include the following:
      • “The sound of trees” (Or is it the sounds produced when “[Almost] any breeze” blows through trees?)
      • “[Almost] any breeze”
      • “What a baby sees”
    • and possibly also experiences such as:
      • encountering a beautiful face
      • contemplating or visiting “uptight” (groovy) places
      • seeing an old woman wearing red shoes
      • observing or imagining “a million balloons” of all hues
      • driving on hilly terrain, leaving fears behind

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” (meaning “Almost any breeze”) is diminished by YES to “‘Most anything.” Some transcriptions of the Stills version have the original phrase as “Most any please,” which is obviously wrong. In some YES versions, instead of “‘Most any breeze” there is the dissimilar and inapt phrase “Most of these,” featuring a pronoun with no evident antecedent.
  • “A million balloons” are inflated into “One million balloons.”
  • The line “Drivin’ the hills, forget fears” in the Buffalo Springfield version, is modified to “Drive over hills, forget your fear.”
  • “Gettin’ it on in second gear,” is refitted as “Gettin’ it out of second gear.” One common meaning of the slang phrase “get it on” 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.***
  • 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 (c. 1962) in jazz slang to mean “excellent.” Though by 1969 “uptight” was definitely an uncool state to be in, the “excellent” meaning evidently 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


Interpreting selected phrases in the original Stephen Stills lyric

tin clerks and plastic jerks
Stills evidently sings either “tin clerks” or “ten clerks.” That phrase is usually replaced at lyrics websites with “ten bucks,” which is what Jon Anderson of YES sings on their 1970 recording. Also, in all YES versions of the song that I’ve heard, Anderson sings “Just making change for plastic cherries.” Unlike Anderson, Stills does not use the preposition “for” between the two phrases of the corresponding line in the original, the second of which appears to be “plastic jerks.”

Stills line — “Just making change, plastic jerks
YES line — “Just making change for plastic cherries

The word “plastic” in the noun phrase “plastic jerks” might mean fake, phony, artificial, unreal, etc., or it could mean malleable or pliable. If the latter, then the phrase might suggest that such persons are easily molded or manipulated, to suit the purposes of those who pull (or “jerk”) the strings.

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), but neither of these terms have any common meaning, or history of slang usage, that I’m aware of. The phrase “rubber check” might be understood anywhere in the U.S. — “plastic check,” no.

It’s a bit odd that, while evidently referring to the same type of people in each case, Stills uses the adjectives “tin” and “plastic” to describe them 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.

grocery store people = everyday people?
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 or manipulated.

“Everydays” are “sad goodbyes” engaged in killing time
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 “Everydays” as the title of the song.

Stills uses the present participle form of the idiom to “kill time,” which means 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.

** A “review” by rudi005, dated June 14, 2007, at the Discogs.com page on the single (UK) Atlantic 584298 says:

This 7-inch UK-release Yes ‘Looking Around/Everydays’ was released in october 1969 under label-number Atlantic 584298. However in the same month there was another 7-inch UK-release with the identical Atlantic label-number 584298: Big Bertha feat. Ace Kefford ‘This World’s An Apple’ (see Discogs under artistname ‘Big Bertha’).

An earlier UK-single of Yes in july 1969, namely ‘Sweetness/Something’s Coming’ (label-number 584280), only sold 500 copies. Perhaps the following Yes-single ‘Looking Around’ was quickly withdrawn after newly disappointing sales, and by mistake the same label-number was used for the Big Bertha-release later that month. Naturally any other explanation is welcome!

*** One of the slang meanings of “get it on,” according to Wiktionary is “hurry up” or “go fast,” but this wouldn’t make sense in this case, because second gear allows only relatively low speeds. It can be, however, a useful gear for both ascending and descending hills, which is relevant since the preceding line in the lyric refers to “Drivin’ the hills.”

Given the context, I think it’s unlikely that by “gettin’ it on” Stills meant the equivalent of “getting turned on,” “getting high,” or “getting a buzz on,” in the sense of a drug or alcohol-induced euphoria.


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