Who Is The Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young Song Our House Really About?

It's impossible to hear the opening trills of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's "Our House," without being transported to a peaceful scene filled with familiar comforts. Stitched together with simple lyrics like, "Our house is a very, very, very fine house, with two cats in the yard," the song tells a tale of mundane domesticity.

While some songs are left to the interpretation of the listener, "Our House" off the 1970 CSN&Y album "Déjà Vuhas a detailed origin story, provided by Graham Nash himself in his 2015 autobiography "Wild Tales." According to the British-American singer-songwriter, the idea for the song came in the early 1970s when he was living with singer, Joni Mitchell.

"One day Joan and I got up and went to breakfast ... and a few doors away there was a little antique store, and in the window, Joan saw this vase, went inside, fell in love with it, bought it and brought it back to the house," Nash writes in an excerpt from "Wild Tales" posted on Fantrippers. He goes on to reveal that he came up with the song on a whim, while Mitchell was fetching flowers for the vase. The anecdote, while cloyingly sweet, does little justice to the true details of Mitchell and Nash's relationship.

David Crosby plays unwitting cupid

According to highly documented folklore, Joni Mitchell and Graham Nash connected romantically thanks to David Crosby, who had his own whirlwind romance with the singer. Crosby invited Mitchell to a party he threw for Nash, and the two hit it off instantaneously. "After that party I went home with Joni and spent a couple of years with her in her home in Laurel Canyon," writes Nash in another excerpt from "Wild Tales," posted at Performing Songwriter. Somehow the three were able to live, love, and create music together (and about each other), despite their tangled relationship roots.

These romantic dalliances were taking place in before, during, and immediately after 1967's Summer of Love, so it was no surprise that a bunch of singers with bleeding hearts, unchecked emotions, and the unquenchable desire for validation found themselves in bed together. Combine those urges with the fact that they were all singer-songwriters and you have an endless discography of culture-shaping songs that describe the painful frivolousness of youth. The relationship eventually ended (per the New York Post) when Joni Mitchell broke up with Graham Nash via a letter, which stated, "If you hold sand too tightly, it will run through your fingers." 

Graham Nash captures momentary bliss

The eye of a hurricane creates a false sense of safety; it's a tranquil time when the sun is shining and one can be overcome with an immense amount of gratitude. However, this blissful serenity is fleeting. Soon the storm will come back, dragging everything into the depths of its darkness. Much like hurricanes, doomed relationships are also susceptible to misleading moments of delight.

"Our House" was written during one of these moments. In between arguments, affairs, and eventual breakups, Joni Mitchell and Graham Nash (above) managed to have the sort of humdrum afternoon typically reserved for elderly married couples.

As Nash detailed to Fresh Air's Terri Gross in 2013, "It was a very grey, kind of sleety, drizzly L.A. morning ... we got to the house ... and I said ... 'You know what? I'll light a fire. Why don't you put some flowers in that vase that you just bought?' Well, [Joni] was in the garden getting flowers. That meant she was not at her piano, but I was. And an hour later, 'Our House' was born, out of an incredibly ordinary moment that many, many people have experienced."

Although the romance at the center of the song disappeared shortly after it was written, "Our House" continues to leave a lasting impression. Featured in commercials, movies, TV shows, and more, it's one of those enduring anthems that will truly never leave the collective consciousness of American culture. Proof that it's a very, very, very fine song.