Helplessly hoping her harlequin hovers nearby
Awaiting a word
Gasping at glimpses of gentle true spirit he runs
Wishing he could fly
Only to trip at the sound of goodbye

Wordlessly watching he waits by the window and wonders
At the empty place inside
Heartlessly helping himself to her bad dreams he worries
Did he hear a good-bye?
Or even hello?

They are one person
They are two alone
They are three together
They are for each other

Stand by the stairway you'll see something certain to tell you
Confusion has its cost
Love isn't lying it's loose in a lady who lingers
Saying she is lost
And choking on hello

They are one person
They are two alone
They are three together
They are for each other


Lyrics submitted by DustinGC

Helplessly Hoping song meanings
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45 Comments

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  • +2
    My InterpretationRemember, guys, it's all about Judy Collins. Think "Judy Blue Eyes" "Bluebird" etc. This is one of the songs Stills spat out during his "PLEEEZE marry me, Judy!" period. Harlequin was a Commedia dell'arte character of lowly rank, often shown with a lute, who sometimes pursued ladies above his class. Believe it or not, that would have been a fitting alter ego for Stephen in 1968, when he was far from being a superstar. Buffalo Springfield was coming apart, CSN was not on the radar yet, and he was making ends meet as a session guitarist for, among others, Judy the reigning queen of folk music. He falls for her "true gentle spirit", she says the word he's waiting for, and they begin a torrid affair. He decides that she's the one, endears himself to her son Clark (yes, I think that's the "three") and hopes for a future together. Judy's not so sure, however. The rest of the lyrics suggest Judy is doing a variant on the whole "it's not you, it's ME" thing (she is going through therapy around this time, and he thinks it's a bunch of BS). He wonders if she's about to dump him, or if he ever even had a chance with her in the first place. She eventually hooks up with Stacy Keach (Stills and Keach probably didn't meet in the stairwell, but that's a good metaphor for seeing that you have competition). Keach apparently gets along great with the kid, too, and poor Stephen is out of the picture.
    Pratfallon April 24, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song describes my relationship pretty well. A man helping himself to a woman's bad dreams and he worries.

    One person trying to save another person's tattered life, and the other person trying to save their life by forcing them away.

    Just trying to save eachother's life.
    moeburnon December 11, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentOnce upon a time there was a lady helplessly hoping her harlequin was hovering nearby because she felt rather stupid and scared being out on such a long limb. Gasping at glimpses of gentle true spirit, he wished he could fly only to find she was already gone. Wordless he waited at the window, wondering at the empty place inside—helping himself to her bad dreams because they were hard to shake. No goodbye? Not the last time. Plenty of hellos—but not lately. She is one person but she is two. They are three once they get their act together—fat chance of that …
    Stand by any stairway to see confusion has its cost because love isn’t lying—it’s loose in a lady who lingers saying she is lost and choking on hello quite often. They are for each other …
    No happily ever after?
    Not so fast—how intriguing would that be?
    My man rain—at the window pane—knocks and listens and knocks again—my man rain …
    sillybunnyon August 18, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti don't know wat it means...she wants to leave even though it's in neither of their best interests...i just LOVE this song...but how are they three together? o well...
    ZinbobDanon April 03, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General Commentoh, and it's been years since i head this song (since i lost the album :(...but i think the words go: "helplessly hoping her harlequin ~hovers~ nearby, ~awaiting~ a word...wishing he could fly..."

    yea, just those two words i think need to be corrected...that's it...someone else bitch at me if i'm wrong but that's the way i've been singning it since i was 6
    ZinbobDanon May 04, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General Commentoh, and it's been years since i head this song (since i lost the album :(...but i think the words go: "helplessly hoping her harlequin ~hovers~ nearby, ~awaiting~ a word...wishing he could fly..."

    yea, just those two words i think need to be corrected...that's it...someone else bitch at me if i'm wrong but that's the way i've been singning it since i was 6
    ZinbobDanon May 04, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI don't think there's much meaning to this song. Stills was just having fun with alliteration. I recall somewhere that he dedicated this song to his high school English teacher.

    And ZinbobDan is right about the lyrics.
    zarumbaon June 11, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General CommentYes zinbobdan is right. (A harlequin is a clownish doll.) But there is something to this beautiful expression of a dead love. While there is no metaphor deeply hidden, i think that the lyrics are a poetic illustration of two romantics ailing from loosing each other.
    jeffknowles1on November 30, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti thought it was wishing he could fly, not hide. Really like this song
    Dchealon February 05, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Comment'They are one person
    They are two alone
    They are three together
    They are for each other'

    this is one of the prettiest things i have ever heard...i love csn
    polythenepamon April 08, 2005   Link

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