Buffalo Springfield is regarded as one of the most iconic rock & roll bands of all time. In just over two years, they released three records and a couple of singles, launching the careers of Stephen Stills, Richie Furay, Bruce Palmer, Dewey Martin, Jim Messina, and Neil Young. Impressive for a bunch of long-haired young adults just getting started.
The band’s achievements from 1966 to 1968 still stand to this day. Here are the 10 Buffalo Springfield Songs That Had Deepest Impact On Rock:
For What It’s Worth
When it comes to Buffalo Springfield, if there’s one song everyone knows, this is it! ‘For What It’s Worth’ exemplifies “the” us versus them era lyrics, take off your blinders. He has been used, abused and drowned in the air for his 56 years, but he refuses to die! And for good reason, its sound is completely unique. From the unassuming kick drum intro and guitar harmonics to the rousing chorus, it has become an American classic. Written in part as a reaction to the “Sunset Strip riots” that occurred in mid-1966, where young people clashed with the authorities. He captured the imagination of Stephen Stills and turned it into pure poetry. Neil Young’s subtle guitar breaks up the color of the song with a tension that matches the lyrics. Recorded as a single after their debut album hit stores, it was added to subsequent releases and has remained the band’s signature song for more than 55 years.
“Bluebird” is one of the band’s definitive songs. That 12-string acoustic from Stills goes hand-in-hand with Young’s raunchy, biting guitar for a perfect match. The song is pop perfection in its original form on the band’s second album, but just for the heck of it, we’ve chosen the rare nine-minute version that’s been out of print for three decades. There are actually three different “Bluebirds” to choose from. The original album version, which ends on a banjo-driven coda, the original single edit, which fades out early, and this long take that only appeared on a 1973 compilation LP titled simply “Buffalo Springfield.” It’s been forgotten over the years, largely due to being unavailable, so we’re including it here to rescue it from the clipped bins of time. Any way you slice it, it’s a great song!
Flying On The Ground Is Wrong
“Is my world not falling down, I’m in pieces on the ground.” What a verse to start a song! Without a doubt, one of Neil Young’s best early compositions. Its beauty and elegance is hard to beat. Beautifully sung by Richie Furay, it brings out the genuine sincerity of the lyrics and captures a warmth that not even our beloved Neil’s voice could capture in solo live performances. An absolute classic!
Rock & Roll Woman
Stephen Stills created some outstanding tunes, and “Rock and Roll Woman” is one of them. In the origins of this one, you can hear indications of the road he would take with David Crosby and Graham Nash in a few years. The group was always able to shift the atmosphere of a tune by changing the beat or providing the correct harmonies to pull it away from plain ‘folk-rock’ territory. The proper subtlety is added here by some delicious guitar work.
Sit Down, I Think I Love You
A Stephen Stills classic! The second track from the band’s debut album, “Sit Down,” is pristine folk rock with a great garage-band feel. The Springfield always had a slightly harsher sound than, say, the Byrds, and it’s evident here. The song’s simple yet highly effective harmonies fit like a glove. The balance of nice, clean guitar fills and dirtier fuzz soloing combine to form an unbeatable combination. The song was covered by Bay Area rockers the Mojo Men, who employed a more sophisticated pop approach, almost in the style of the Beach Boys, and brought the song to the Top 40 in 1967.
One of Neil Young’s signature songs, “Mr. Soul» is complete rock and roll for all ages. With his “Satisfaction”-style guitar riff, Young mixes beautifully oblique, attitude-covered lyrics to make one of Buffalo Springfield’s best records. The ultimate fuzz main break, with its echoes of Otis Redding’s “I Can’t Turn You Loose,” still stands as the ultimate Neil. The song was issued as a single and opened the band’s sophomore offering, “Buffalo Springfield Again”. It has remained a staple of Young’s live shows ever since and was most recently played on his 2012 US tour.
Down To The Wire
This has to be one of the most perplexing tunes to have missed the mark the first time around. Why was this excellent song left on the shelf throughout Buffalo Springfield’s tenure? It was ultimately released in 1977 on Young’s “Decade” album. That rendition had Neil on lead vocals, however, the original version of the song was ultimately released in 2001 with the publication of the Buffalo Springfield special edition. A track featuring Stills on lead vocals, even though both renditions are superb, Stills’ version has a significantly increased feeling of urgency than Neil’s. With the reverse guitar and production value, it’s certainly one of his finest performances!
One of Buffalo Springfield’s most famous songs, titled “Broken Arrow”, was released on the album “Buffalo Springfield Again”. The song was written by Neil Young. It appeared as the closing track on the album. The songs have been long-time favorites of Neil Young, who has continued to perform them throughout his career.
On The Way Home
Buffalo Springfield’s last LP, “Last Time Around”, was improvised from sessions recorded just before their split. Despite the unevenness of some of the material, it does present a handful of awards like this beautifully sung Neil Young composition by Richie Furay. Although Young would go on to perform the song as a solo artist, Springfield’s version has a feel of its own. It beautifully captures the sound of late ’60s pop. The addition of horns and strings may seem counterintuitive to the band’s style, but in hindsight, these elements work perfectly. A truly splendid album.
Expecting To Fly
Another fantastic track from Buffalo Springfield’s second album, “Buffalo Springfield Again,” was “Expecting To Fly.” Neil Young composed the tune. The song’s lengthy orchestral beginning is breathtaking. Neil Young sings lead vocals on this splendid track.