for what it's worth, front rhyme in Helplessly Hoping

*Helplessly Hoping * was a favorite of mine in the late 60’s or early 70’s, whenever it was current, and ever since. I think it might have been on the first CS&N album. It seems to be about the difficulty of first meeting a girl, so it’s treating a pedestrian, everyday subject in a very dramatic way.

A salient element in its structure is front rhyme, alliteration, starting with the title itself. The first five words, which include the title, begin with “H". (See below for the lyrics). Then, lines 4 and 5 have three G-words, gasping, glimpses, gentle, as does the last line of Verse 1, the important word “good-bye,” which Stephen Stills elongates musically and vocally, but in a ‘downward,’ helpless, not an upbeat way.

Verse 2 starts off with five “W’s": Wordlessly watching he waits by the window and wonders … "

Then the “H’s” resume, with four in Line 5 of Verse 2, three of them contiguous. Three more occur in the last three lines of Verse 2, including the pivotal, central (both subject-wise and structurally) word of the song, “hello,” which SS again musically and vocally elongates and emphasizes, this time brightly and hopefully, not sadly or helplessly like the previous “good-bye.”

Verse 3 begins with five “S” sounds, including the soft-C “certain”: "Stand by the stairway, you’ll see something certain … "

Then there are two hard-C words, “confusion” and “cost.” And, aren’t they truly hard words? “Confusion” and “cost” are both hard things. Coincidence? I think not.

Continuing Verse 3, “Love isn’t lying … “ – those next three lines have six words starting with “L” : love, lying, loose, lady, lingers, lost.

Next, “choking” is emphasized, but harshly – not like the luxuriant, hoping elongation of “hello” back in Verse 2. Then, “on hello” is musically pleasant, hopeful – it’s the narrator’s ‘goal,’ but the girl is absolutely “choking on hello," and Stephen Stills communicates that idea musically as well as lyrically.

I usually abhor ‘lists’ in songs: “one person, two alone, three together, for each other.” I mentally recoil from anticipating going through the same list in the refrain of every verse. (Worse, Billy Joel’s famous ‘list’ song, whatever that dreadful thing was called – I forget – is wholly, totally, and simply a list.) But Helplessly Hoping’s ‘listing’ – one, two, three, four – never bothered me in the least, in fact I think that refrain is a complement to the song that shows Stephen Stills a master of his craft, fashioning something so inherently irritating as a list into pleasant and interesting verse.

Beautiful song, both lyrically, instrumentally, and vocally!

Typically we’re not supposed to post complete lyrics here for copywright purposes. I’ll report this to a moderator for you.

Ok, thank you. And sorry for the overstepping of bounds. Whatever the moderator decides will be fine with me. MR

I thought there was going to be something about the song “For What It’s Worth” in here…

If I had it to do over, I would lose that part of the title. It’s too cute and has probably been done to death in everything in print remotely relating to Stephen Stills. I thought it surpassingly clever at the time.

I always kind of wanted to be a high school English teacher just so I could use this song to teach alliteration…

And the answer to the music trivia question “What was the first song Graham Nash sang with Still and Crosby?” is: Helplessly Hoping. Stills says the hairs rose up on the back of his arms and he KNEW they had something special.

Put the puppy on the headphones–Crosby on the left (as I remember), Stills in the middle, Nash on the right. One guitar. Beautiful.

Misunderstood Lyrics for $100, Alex.

I’ve heard that song a gazillion times on the greatest hits CD currently in my car CD player. Apparently I haven’t been listening closely.

I thought the song was about gettin’ married and makin’ a family, you know, I start off as one prson, then the two become one flesh and then baby makes three and with baby #2 we’re a happy little family of four for each other.

I kinda like it my way. Harlequins are just freaky.

Thank you for that. My appreciation for the song increases knowing both those things.

Helplessly Hoping’s refrain could certainly support that interpretation, but probably not the verses.

Did you know a song exists fitting your description exactly – a very solid song, in fact, but little known, from the 1973 musical remake of the 1937 Frank Capra film, Lost Horizon. I am unfamiliar with either movie, but I own the soundtrack album of Burt Bacharach / Hal David songs from the 1973 remake. None are well known but a few are superb, including one called Living Together, Growing Together, which is the embodiment of the description in your post.

Just printing the lyrics won’t do it justice. I would recommend you find the song and listen to it a number of times. It’s the equal of any of the 1960’s Bacharach/David hits, IMO.

…and here’s a video of the song.

Slightly different from the album, but still damned good.

Side note: I had that album while in the Army, and played the hell out of it.

Please remember to only post a few lines of a song and then link to the rest so as to avoid [post=6769907]copyright issues[/post]. I’ve gone ahead and removed all but a few lines from the song you posted in your OP, Mark Ryle. You’re welcome to post a link to the remaining lyrics.

Thanks for the correction. Here’s a link to the full lyrics. SkipMagic, if it’s not too much trouble, would you please place it in some appropriate place in my OP, preferably at the end of the first paragraph.

If you can’t, or choose not to, that’s fine. All that’s needed, really, is for a listener is to be aware of the large amount of front rhyme in that song, not necessarily visually identify every instance, although that helps.

The OP is a paste of an email to my nephew, Michael, with whom I have conversed many years about singer-songwriter songs from the 60’s and 70’s, mainly, which he is intensely interested in and sings out at two restaurants in Reading, PA (Viva and Casa Grande). He’s been performing Helplessly Hoping lately, to good reaction, so I shared my insights with him in that email/OP, but then neglected to truncate the lyrics for the OP. My mistake. Sorry.

Here’s the song you wish *Helplessly Hoping * would be, Humble Servant. Enjoy. (And anyone else). The whole album – the Bacharach/David score of the 1973 movie Lost Horizon – is wonderful and well-worth seeking out.

The Fifth Dimension covered the song Living Together, Growing Together on the A-side of a 1973 single and an eponymous (with the song) album that year.

The Bacharach/David score is a rare modern example of art celebrating the traditional family. The film itself was a critical and financial flop and led to squabbling and lawsuits between Hal David and Burt Bacharach and their breakup as a songwriting team, in my opinion the greatest ever.