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Stephen Stills Praises His New Box Set But Admits He "Couldn't Listen to This Entire Thing"

Image courtesy of Photo: Eleanor Stills (via ABC News Radio)
Image courtesy of Photo: Eleanor Stills (via ABC News Radio)

Stephen Stills ' expansive, career-spanning box set, Carry On , hits stores this Tuesday, but the folk-rock great admits that if it had been left to him, the collection may have never seen the light of day.  The four-CD, 82-song package was put together in large part by his band mate Graham Nash , whom the singer/guitarist says was the right man for the job.

"He's got the patience," Stills tells Rolling Stone .  "It's also an organizational skill…He's got a great memory and he can listen to all this stuff…I wouldn't have had the patience."

Stills points out that because of the vast amount of music he's recorded over the years, Nash and the other people who worked on Carry On "had their work cut out for them with this beautiful package."   He adds, "I had a roomful of tapes about the size of two garages, and someone had to go poring through them."

Stephen says he thinks the compilation has "a good arc to it," but admits that he "couldn't listen to this entire thing" himself.  "If I did, it would make me never want to play again," he declares.  "I much prefer the road.  My thing is getting live in front of people."

Carry On gathers together a wide variety of highlights from Stills' 50-year career, including selections from his solo catalog, as well as tunes he recorded with The Buffalo Springfield , Crosby, Still & Nash and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young .  In addition to well-known tracks, there are 25 previously unreleased recordings, including demos, live performances and newly remixed songs.

One of the interesting rarities is "No-Name Jam," a wailing instrumental which features Stills and Jimi Hendrix trading licks.  The track was part of a supposed treasure trove of unreleased tapes featuring the two guitar greats that was rediscovered recently.  Unfortunately, says Stills, the contents of the tapes didn't live up to the hype.

"The discovery was that the 'hidden Jimi Hendrix tapes' didn't really have much on them," he tells Rolling Stone .  "Just a lot banging and talking and 'maybe let's do this'…It wasn't the goldmine we thought it was going to be."

Meanwhile, although many of Stills' fellow rock legends lately have penned memoirs about their storied lives, the 68-year-old musician says he'd rather his music speak for him.

"[ Carry On ] is probably my book.  I doubt I will write one of those," he insists. "Most of them are insufferably boring.  You know, first about getting high and hanging out, then about chicks and learning an instrument, going to high school, then recovery and the great new life they have with their new wife.  It's the same story."

Stills says the one rock autobiography he did like was Keith Richards ' book, Life , "because it sounds like him."  He adds that "the rest of them…bore the s**t out of me."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio