History: 1966 – Buffalo Springfield – “Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong”

| December 10, 2011 | 0 Comments

buffalo springfield

buffalo springfield

 Origin

The song was inspired by an event at the dawn of the psychedelic era in November 1966, the year during which Buffalo Springfield started playing as the house band at the Whisky a Go Go on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. According to the Los Angeles Times[2], annoyed residents and business owners in the district had encouraged the passage of strict (10:00pm) curfew and loitering laws to reduce the traffic congestion resulting from crowds of young club patrons. This was subsequently perceived by young, local rock music fans as an infringement on their civil rights, and on Saturday, November 12, 1966, fliers were distributed along the Strip inviting people to demonstrate later that day.

Hours before the protest one of L.A’s rock ‘n’ roll radio stations announced there would be a rally at Pandora’s Box, a club at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Crescent Heights, and cautioned people to tread carefully.[3] The Times reported that as many as 1,000 youthful demonstrators, including such celebrities as Jack Nicholson and Peter Fonda (who was afterward handcuffed by police), erupted in protest against the perceived repressive enforcement of these recently invoked curfew laws.

Though often mistaken for an anti-war song, it was this first of the “Sunset Strip riots” which inspired then Buffalo Springfield band member Stephen Stills to write “For What It’s Worth”, recorded about three weeks after on December 5, 1966.

There’s something happening here

What it is ain’t exactly clear

There’s a man with a gun over there

Telling me I got to beware

I think it’s time we stop, children, what’s that sound

Everybody look what’s going down

There’s battle lines being drawn

Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong

Young people speaking their minds

Getting so much resistance from behind

I think it’s time we stop, hey, what’s that sound

Everybody look what’s going down

What a field-day for the heat

A thousand people in the street

Singing songs and carrying signs

Mostly say, hooray for our side

It’s time we stop, hey, what’s that sound

Everybody look what’s going down

Paranoia strikes deep

Into your life it will creep

It starts when you’re always afraid

You step out of line, the man come and take you away

We better stop, hey, what’s that sound

Everybody look what’s going down

Stop, hey, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down
Stop, now, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down
Stop, children, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down[

Buffalo Springfield - For What It's Worth, (1967, Bandstand, el Hollywood Palace, Smothers Brothers).

Buffalo Springfield was a rock group that served as a springboard for the careers of Neil Young, Stephen Stills, Richie Furay and Jim Messina, two of whom played in rock, pop, folk, country and acoustic group Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young later in their career. Buffalo Springfield is best known for the song "For What It's Worth". After the band's formation in April 1966, a series of disruptions, including infighting and the pressure of working in the music industry, resulted in constant changes in the group's lineup and ultimately culminated in the group's disbanding after roughly 25 months. Buffalo Springfield released a total of three albums but left many demo recordings, studio outtakes and live recordings, as well as a reputation for excellent personnel and high band dysfunction.[1] Despite the band’s short tenure and relatively limited output it was one of the most influential bands of the 1960s, with virtually all members going on to successful careers and with two (Stills and Young) reaching the top of rock stardom.

Components of the band.
Richie Furay
Dewey Martin
Jim Messina
Stephen Stills
Neil Young
Bruce Palmer

 

Whiska-a-Gogo -Los Angeles History

For What It’s Worth” is a song written by Stephen Stills. It was performed by Buffalo Springfield, recorded on December 5, 1966, and released as a single in January 1967; it was later added to the re-release of their first album, Buffalo Springfield. The single peaked at number seven on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. This song is currently ranked #63 on Rolling Stone‘s list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time as well as the eighth best song of 1967 by Acclaimed Music.[1]

 Origin

The song was inspired by an event at the dawn of the psychedelic era in November 1966, the year during which Buffalo Springfield started playing as the house band at the Whisky a Go Go on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. According to the Los Angeles Times[2], annoyed residents and business owners in the district had encouraged the passage of strict (10:00pm) curfew and loitering laws to reduce the traffic congestion resulting from crowds of young club patrons. This was subsequently perceived by young, local rock music fans as an infringement on their civil rights, and on Saturday, November 12, 1966, fliers were distributed along the Strip inviting people to demonstrate later that day.

Hours before the protest one of L.A’s rock ‘n’ roll radio stations announced there would be a rally at Pandora’s Box, a club at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Crescent Heights, and cautioned people to tread carefully.[3] The Times reported that as many as 1,000 youthful demonstrators, including such celebrities as Jack Nicholson and Peter Fonda (who was afterward handcuffed by police), erupted in protest against the perceived repressive enforcement of these recently invoked curfew laws.

Though often mistaken for an anti-war song, it was this first of the “Sunset Strip riots” which inspired then Buffalo Springfield band member Stephen Stills to write “For What It’s Worth”, recorded about three weeks after on December 5, 1966.

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The song quickly became a well-known protest song.[4] While it has come to symbolize worldwide turbulence and confrontational feelings arising from events during the 1960s (particularly the Vietnam War), Stills recounts writing the song in reaction to escalating unrest between law enforcement and young club-goers on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles County, California.[5] The song’s title appears nowhere in its lyrics; it is more easily remembered by the first line of chorus: “Stop, children, what’s that sound?”

Stills said in an interview that the name of the song came about when he presented it to the record company executive Ahmet Ertegun who signed Buffalo Springfield to the Atlantic Records-owned ATCO label. He said: “I have this song here, for what it’s worth, if you want it.” Another producer, Charlie Greene, claims that Stills first said the above sentence to him, but credits Ahmet Ertegun with subtitling the single “Stop, Hey What’s That Sound” so that the song would be more easily recognized.[6]

In 2006, when interviewed on Tom Kent‘s radio show “Into the ’70s”, Stephen Stills pointed out that many people think “For What It’s Worth” is about the Kent State Shootings (1970), despite predating that event by over three years.[7]

The song was played (without Neil Young‘s presence) at Buffalo Springfield’s induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.[8]

In 1969, the song was covered by American singer-actress Cher on her album 3614 Jackson Highway.

The track appears as part of the soundtrack for the 2005 film Lord of War, the 2008 film Tropic Thunder, and Forrest Gump as well as numerous others, mostly involving the Vietnam War or war in general.

This song has also been covered by experimental rock bands The Pop Culture Suicides and TV Toy and a Psychedelic band by the name of “Art” on their album “Supernatural Fairy Tales”

The song is sampled on the song “He Got Game” by the hip-hop group Public Enemy.

Crystal Bowersox also does a cover of the song on her 2010 CD Farmer’s Daughter.

Rush performed a cover of the song on their Feedback album.

The song was covered by American Punk Rock band Hed PE on their 6th studio album Insomnia

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Category: Music, Songs of OWS, Songs of Protest/Activism, Student Activists, Video, Whisky A Go Go

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