Song of the Week – Old Times Good Times, Stephen Stills


Stephen Stills had a pretty good career going by the end of 1968. He’s already scored a hit with “For What It’s Worth” and several critically acclaimed albums with the Buffalo Springfield and recorded the Super Session with Al Kooper and Mike Bloomfield.

But it wasn’t until he teamed up with David Crosby and Graham Nash that he really broke through to super stardom with the release of Crosby, Stills & Nash in 1969 and Déjà vu with Neil Young joining in 1970.

By November of ’70, Stills was already trading on his brand with his first solo album, Stephen Stills. It’s a good, but not great album and contained another of his hits – the gospel infused “Love the One You’re With.” The album also holds the distinction of being the only album that both Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix play on (though not together).

Hendrix contributed to today’s SotW, “Old Times Good Times.”

The song’s lyrics trace from Stills’ youthful days in New Orleans through to his time in New York City and later California.

When I was young and needed my time alone
Jump in the pirogue, pole down the Bayou
Bogue Falaya river was dark and cold
Seven years old, I couldn’t find my way home

When I was twelve, I learned how to play the guitar
Got myself a job in a jax beer bar
Got myself together, went to New Orleans
Found myself workin’ for rice and beans
And it was good times

New York city was so damned cold
I had to get out of that town before I got old
California and rock and roll dream
Got too high and we blew our whole scene
But we had a good time

Old times, good times
Old times, good times

It’s a rocker that follows the template drawn up with songs such as the Spencer Davis Group’s “I’m a Man.” It’s a vehicle for an R&B jam session, albeit a very short one. It chugs along with Stills on organ and Hendrix on guitar trading riffs most of the way through.

I don’t know the exact date of recording session for this song, but the album was recorded in June/July 1970. Hendrix died a couple of months later on September 18th, 1970, making this one of his last sessions. (Stills dedicated the album to Hendrix on its back cover.) Too bad, I would have liked to hear them work together again, perhaps with both on guitar another time. Sadly that’s wasn’t to be. But at least we have “Old Times Good Times.”

Enjoy… until next week.

3 thoughts on “Song of the Week – Old Times Good Times, Stephen Stills

  1. I’ve always loved this track (now my ring tone) since I discovered the album in the mid ’70’s. I hadn’t appreciated that Stephen played the organ on it. It’s a great interplay between he and Hendrix. Great story in the lyrics too. He’s always been my favourite of CSN because of his blues playing.

  2. I always loved this one too, I grew up listening to my older brother’s CSN box set, and always gravitated to the Stills songs. In a music class in high school we starting leaning the Chicago version of I’m A Man, and I was convinced they stole the Old Times Good Times from Stills. Anyhow, I came here looking for background on the song and the I’m A Man connection, and had no idea it was Hendrix on guitar, which is awesome.

  3. I’ve been a Hendrix fan for 40 years and I didn’t know about this. I listened to that track for the first time today and immediately thought ‘Stills is obviously channelling Hendrix here. It’s 1970 so he must have been listening to him or gone to a gig’. Then I looked at the studio list… 🙂

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