Stills put "So Begins The Task" together for the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young album Déjà Vu
, but the band didn't feel it fit on the album and the song floated around in limbo for a few years. It finally found a home on the debut album of Stills' band Manassas.
He wrote the song about his breakup with Judy Collins; that same lost romance was fodder for "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes
" and "You Don't Have to Cry
." "So Begins the Task" is believed the first song Stills wrote about/for Collins.
Collins was living in New York City, and Stills wanted her to come live with him in California. She wanted to say on the east coast to tend to her budding music career, but also to continue with her psychotherapy.
Collins did visit Stills around that time. She watched him and the band perform in the studio and was blown away by how good they are. She couldn't stay, though, because she could already feel that the whole scene would trigger her alcoholism and lead to her self-destruction. So, she elected to return to New York, and her relationship with Stills ended.