Got out of town on a boat, going to Southern islands.
Sailing a reach before a following sea.
She was making for the trades on the outside, and the downhill run to Papeete.

Off the wind on this heading lie the Marquesas,
we got eighty feet of the waterline, nicely making way.
In a noisy bar in Avalon, I tried to call you.
But on a midnight watch I realized why twice you ran away.

Think about how many times I have fallen. Spirits are using me, larger voices calling.
What heaven brought you and me cannot be forgotten.
I have been around the world, looking for that woman-girl who knows love can endure.
And you know it will, and you know it will.

When you see the Southern Cross for the first time,
you understand now why you came this way.
Cause the truth you might be running from is so small.
But it's as big as the promise, the promise of a coming day.
So I'm sailing for tomorrow, my dreams are a dying.
And my love is an anchor tied to you, tied with a silver chain.
I have my ship and all her flags are a flying.
She is all that I have left and music is her name.

Think about how many times I have fallen. Spirits are using me, larger voices calling.
What heaven brought you and me cannot be forgotten.
I have been around the world, looking for that woman-girl who knows love can endure.
And you know it will, and you know it will.

So we cheated and we lied and we tested
and we never failed to fail, it was the easiest thing to do.
You will survive being bested.
Somebody fine will come along, make me forget about loving you at the Southern Cross.


Lyrics submitted by Duffmyster99

Southern Cross song meanings
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  • +2
    General CommentI think it's fairly simple. The singer has made many mistakes in his life (Think about how many times I have fallen) and he's spent most of his life searching for 'the right girl' (I have been around the world, looking for that woman-girl who knows love can endure). I think he was in love with a particular woman in the city (Got out of TOWN on a boat) where she did him wrong in some way a couple times (why twice you ran away), and to have some time to think he sailed for Papeete (and i do think it was a literal voyage - all of the guys in the band sailed, especially Crosby). He tries to call her in the bar, but on a midnight watch he realizes why twice she ran away - because she wasnt 'the right girl' for hi. He loved her and cant forget about her (What heaven brought you and me cannot be forgotten) but she wasnt 'the right girl' - the one he was really looking for. She was keeping him tied down, not free like he wanted to be (And my love is an anchor tied to you, tied with a silver chain) meaning the anchor [love] was holding him down in one place. Music is all he has left. But he trusts that, in the end, he will find 'the right girl' (Somebody fine will come along, make me forget about loving you at the Southern Cross).
    AndreAndreon September 12, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThis is one of my favorite songs ever.

    The first approach is quite literal. The narrator is on his boat and sails to the Southern Islands and describes a few points along the way.

    Then I don’t know why, but I really imagine this guy lying on his back on his sailing boat in the middle of the night, and while watching the constellation of the Southern Cross he thinks about his life, especially his ex. First he remembers that he wanted to call her at some point, but now — while watching the Southern Cross — he feels like things seem so clear to him right now. He says that, even though he did mess up a lot during that time, it wasn’t all bad. There were also good times in their relationship which they must not forget, but ultimately he has to get over her, because she is over him. It is going to be rough, because he has to find that perfect girl he dreams about, but he has his ship to keep him company, which is literal, but also metaphorical because her name is music. But his thoughts end on a positive note: He will get over her some day, and meet that perfect girl eventually.

    The Southern Cross is a constellation you only see in the Southern Hemisphere, so that might mean, that sometimes you don’t see the truth right away from where you are standing right now. In order to get that moment of clarity you have to go somewhere else, maybe get some space between you and your problem, so that you might see the truth and then you realize why everything was worth it.

    I think this song is about finding your way. Even though you messed up a lot and lost people on the way, at some point you might get this clear moment when you get a grip on everything. You realize that there were good and bad things and you start to move past all the bad things you might have done yourself and look ahead. It might be hard, but even if you don’t have anything, you’ll always have music to comfort you.
    stellastarfishon October 12, 2011   Link
  • +2
    My InterpretationI think his journey on the sea represents his emotional journey of leaving a girl whom he has been with for a long time. The song seems to suggest that the physical and emotional journeys are happening together. He makes note of many landmarks, which describe a long nautical distance. I think in doing so he is emphasizing what a long emotional journey this is. In the hussle and bussle of life (represented by a "noisy bar in Avalon" he clings to her, but when he has time to reflect ("on a midnight watch") he knows it's time to move on. This certainty is elucidated by his description of the sea voyage: "sailing a reach before a following sea," which means he is going with the current, "nicely making way," and later references to "larger voices calling" him onward.

    I think the reference to the Southern Cross is a crucial symbol in the song. Sailors navigate by this constellation, and in the song it brings him emotional navigation too. Throughout the ages, people have felt a sense of awe looking at the stars, which make them feel like such a tiny piece of the universe ("the truth you might be running from is so small"), and for him it reiterates how small a piece of his life that relationship was, and it makes him feel like "larger voices [are] calling" him to another saga in his life: to "the promise of the coming day". Then he starts to view her as an anchor, holding him back from his resolution of following a larger calling.

    Despite this resolve, he makes it a point to remember her fondly ("what heaven brought you and me cannot be forgotten," describing his ties to her as "a silver chain"), admitting that her loss leaves him feeling bereft nonetheless ("my dreams are a dying" and "she [the ship] is all that I have left").

    It's a profound and eloquent song about moving on from a failed relationship.
    cadenceson February 22, 2012   Link
  • +2
    My InterpretationI've read most of other people's comments but wanted to put my opinion in as well. I feel like Stills isn't just talking about a single thing in the song. The first part up to "nicely making way" is his travels on his boat, enjoying life.

    Then he recalls calling a lost love in Avalon, then realizes (again) why it didn't work out twice before.

    The chorus is powerful though:

    "Think about how many times I have fallen. Spirits are using me, larger voices calling."
    What heaven brought you and me cannot be forgotten.
    I have been around the world, looking for that woman-girl who knows love can endure.
    And you know it will, and you know it will."

    He's sailing around the world, looking for that love that will last. In my own experiences, I have had several broken or otherwise dysfunctional relationships, but I still believe that love is worth it, and maybe like him - I continue to explore and seek out love, possibly in all the wrong places, but I still try nonetheless. And maybe he has second thoughts, I'm sure we all do.

    Like another poster said, I think Southern Cross is a constellation in the Southern Hemisphere and is symbolic to the time he shared with this woman.

    Finally, I think Stills tries to make his boat allegorical to the music he writes and sings, as he's so gifted at doing. It helps him through the tougher times of having love and lost.

    Outstanding song
    musicmojo81on April 14, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think this song is about escaping. Not only does the trip he is going on, sailing to what seems to be the tropics, sound appealling to me, but him being able to eventually accept that she isn't the one for him. Maybe he is sailing away because of her, but he seems like he is moving on with his life after ending it with someone he thinks if special. He is looking for someone that knows love an endure. Maybe she gave up on him, and he needs to escape her. All he has left his is boat, music and the dream of forgetting to love her. I love this song.
    kacllon July 07, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Commentfunny story actually....my father met stephen stills in a bar in upstate NY and started talking about the meanings of songs. When he asked him what the name of his boat was, and upon saying "Manassas," my dad replied with "why didn't you name it "Music?"" Stills looked him in the eye and said "its just a line a f**king song." and then proceeded to leave. He still is crushed for pissing off his biggest idol.
    mystadobalinaon August 03, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Comment"Somebody fine will come along, make me forget about loving you.."

    A great, optimistic closing line to a song that I percieve about being optimistic and having hope for finding love once again. Easily one of my favorite songs ever.
    roushsn95on December 09, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think it’s a love song/breakup song, written from the perspective of a man of the sea.

    He has left town on a boat, probably for work-related trip. He is on the way to Southern Islands, possibly in Fiji, and sailing a particularly long stretch. He stopped on the way to call his woman, but couldn’t reach her. Later, he is up late during a midnight watch thinking about her, and for the first time he realizes why she has given up on their relationship before.

    He has made many mistakes along the way, and they have struggled through their relationship. It might even have something to do with him being gone so much (either as a man of the sea or even a touring musician). Now, he realizes that something is pulling him away from her and it’s time for him to move on. He is telling her that they had something special that won’t be forgotten, but he is feeling a higher calling (perhaps god?), pulling him towards a new path and telling him he’s not with the right woman. He has been waiting and looking for the one special woman who will believe in him through the bad times, and he feels like she is close.

    The Southern Cross is a constellation that can be seen from the southern hemisphere. He is going to look to the stars for the answer, and hopes that he will soon understand why fate has led him on this path. The Southern Cross may even refer to the person that he is hoping to soon see. He has been trying to deny that his previous relationship was not working for him, but now realizes that the future ahead of him will be worth letting go of what were once his dreams. He is either saying that he will always love the woman he is leaving, or he is saying that he feels bound by the connection to this new woman (? some sources say that soul mates are connected by a silver chord of energy). He is leaving for something new, and all he has is his ship and music to lead the way. Or a ship named Music. Or the ship and voyage are simply metaphors for music itself, his favorite escape.

    He sums up the relationship he is leaving by talking about how they always seemed to fail when things got hard, and seems to conclude that their love just doesn’t have what it takes to make it. He is assuring her that she will get over being dumped, and he will find love again. Somebody new is just around the corner, and he will finally find the love he’s been searching for.
    bluemoon5on February 08, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentPapeete is the capital of French Polynesia, located in Tahiti. The Marquesas are another small south Pacific island, also in French Polynesia. All of this is located about a thousand miles or so east of New Zealand, which is where Avalon is located. The Southern Cross is a set of four stars in the southern sky, which serve a similar function as the North Star in the Northern Hemisphere.

    When the writer sees the Southern Cross for the first time, it's like this piece of God's beauty gives him some reorientation, and some new inspiration to keep moving on. There may even be some religious significance there - coming to the cross. "Spirits are using me, larger voices calling."
    LaBradford22on May 05, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General Commenti think this song is about the two things, love, and music. Thats really all there is to his life. "Think about how many times I have fallen. Spirits are using me, larger voices calling.
    What heaven brought you and me cannot be forgotten." In this he is talking about how many times he should've quit music, quit life, or been in an entirely different situation, but he realizes his calling from the heavens above is to make music and spread love
    RLPatriots0499on January 26, 2010   Link

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