With intertwining acoustic and electric guitars, and Buffalo Springfield's effervescent backup harmonies, Stephen Stills paid tribute to a "Rock & Roll Woman" who epitomized cool hipness. The lyrics were inspired by one of the biggest female rock superstars of the age, Jefferson Airplane's Grace Slick. The idea for the music, Stills confirmed, "came from jamming with David Crosby at his house. We got hung up on the F to D change in D-modal, which is mountain minor tuning. We kept playing it over and over and over again."
Steve Perry's girlfriend Sherrie Swafford was actually in the studio when Perry began writing this song--his lone Top Ten hit as a solo act--with two co-writers. The trio began at midnight one night with just "Oh, Sherrie!" and "hold on, hold on." Three hours later, they had a complete song. Swafford, however, had to wait until the next day to hear it. "Sherrie actually got tired and went to bed," Perry said. She also appeared in the video, but their relationship did not hold on for long.