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Song by Crosby, Stills & Nash
from the album Crosby, Stills & Nash
Songwriter(s)David Crosby
Producer(s)David Crosby
Graham Nash
Stephen Stills

"Guinnevere" is a song written by David Crosby in 1968.[1] The song appears on Crosby, Stills & Nash's critically acclaimed eponymous debut album. The song is notable for its serene yet pointed melody and its unique lyrics, which compare Queen Guinevere to the object of the singer's affection, referred to as "m'lady".


In a Rolling Stone interview, Crosby remarked: "That is a very unusual song, it's in a very strange tuning (EBDGAD) with strange time signatures. It's about three women that I loved. One of whom was Christine Hinton - the girl who got killed who was my girlfriend - and one of whom was Joni Mitchell, and the other one is somebody that I can't tell. It might be my best song."[2]

According to Robert Christgau, the song was based on a three-note motif from the 1960 Miles Davis album Sketches of Spain.[3]

The album CSN (box set) contains a demo version of the song played by Crosby on guitar, Jack Casady of Jefferson Airplane on bass, and Cyrus Faryar of Modern Folk Quartet on bouzouki. In the liner notes, Crosby says of the song: "When all my friends were listening to Elvis and 1950s rock 'n' roll, I was listening to Chet Baker, Gerry Mulligan and West Coast jazz. Later I got involved with the folk music scene. After getting kicked out of the Byrds I didn't have a plan, but I went back to my roots, and "Guinnevere" is a combination of these two influences."[4]

Lyrical themes[edit]

The song also deals with the importance of freedom. It may have been written about Queen Guinevere from the perspective of a man addressing a woman; it has been speculated that Crosby wrote about her from the perspective of Sir Lancelot of ancient Welsh lore. "Guinnevere" could also be referring to Nancy Ross, who lived with David Crosby and (according to author David McGowan) drew pentagrams on the wall. She would leave Crosby in 1966 for Gram Parsons, the grandson of a citrus fruit magnate. These facts correlate to the "Nancy Ross" theory: in the song, Crosby sings that Guinnevere "drew pentagrams," and that "peacocks wandered aimlessly underneath an orange tree."[5][citation needed]


Cover versions[edit]

Miles Davis recorded a version of the song during a January 27, 1970 session. It was first released, in edited form, on the 1979 compilation Circle in the Round, with a longer version appearing on the 1998 release of The Complete Bitches Brew Sessions. According to David Crosby's 2016 podcast interview with Marc Maron, Davis played it for Crosby at the former's home before releasing it. Crosby did not recognize any resemblance between Davis' version and his composition and Davis kicked him out of his house.[6] In late 2017, Crosby tweeted that he changed his mind about Miles' recording: "Finally ....after so many years of not getting it ....I listened to Miles and his band doing Guinnevere....and got it..."[7]


  1. ^ Liner notes for Voyage, disk 3
  2. ^ Greene, Andy (August 18, 2008). "Track by Track: Crosby, Stills & Nash on Their Self-Titled Debut". Rolling Stone. Retrieved August 11, 2018.
  3. ^ Christgau, Robert (1981). Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the '70s. Da Capo Press. p. 102. ISBN 0306804093.
  4. ^ "CSN Box Set Tracklist".
  5. ^ "Inside the LC: Part XIII". Archived from the original on 2015-04-11. Retrieved 2015-04-11.
  6. ^ "Episode 751 - David Crosby". 17 October 2016.
  7. ^ "Tweet by David Crosby". Twitter. Retrieved 2020-09-20.

External links[edit]