Originally a grouped set of four movements/dances including the gigue and the sarabande, the suite as a musical form was used by Bach, Handel, Tchaikovsky and other classical composers. The pop/rock musical style with its 3-minute format would be unlikely to include many examples of a suite. However, a group such as Genesis, which frequently composed longer songs, is more likely to come up with a suite. Segueing from one 3 minute pop/rock song into another, on the other hand, produces the musical form we call a medley.
Suite Judy Blue Eyes (with the obvious play on "sweet") is the result of a collection of work that Stephen Stills wrote as he tried to make sense of his deteriorating relationship with Judy Collins. The four sections of the song go from fast to slow and back to fast, ending with a section in Spanish. All come together to create a unified whole with smooth transitions between each part held together by Stills' vocals and guitar, backed by harmonies from Crosby and Nash. The story is told that the group Crosby, Stills & Nash was formed specifically for this song. Although the version most of us know came out on the debut CSN album in 1969, Stills notes that he had previously recorded a version as part of a taped demo session from 1968 which was lost for 40 years but later released as Just Roll Tape.
There are several resources you might find worth checking out if you would like to dig deeper:
- an article reflecting back on 35 years of CSN
- Stills' official web site where you can listen to a more recent solo version
- a review of Just Roll Tape with a short preview of the '68 version