Top 10 Buffalo Springfield Songs
Buffalo Springfield are one of the archetype rock and roll bands of all time. Their time together was brief, but in just over two years they managed to issue three albums and a handful of singles, and spawn the careers of Stephen Stills, Richie Furay, Bruce Palmer, Dewey Martin, Jim Messina and Neil Young. Not bad for a bunch of long-haired 20-somethings just starting out. Their accomplishments from 1966 to 1968 still stand tall to this day. We've tried to condense their genius into a mere ten tracks for your enjoyment, so come in, sit down, and dig on Buffalo Springfield with us.
The band's final LP, 'Last Time Around,' was cobbled together from sessions recorded just prior to their breakup. Despite the unevenness of some of the material, it does feature a handful of prizes such as this Neil Young composition beautifully sung by Richie Furay. Though Young would continue to perform the song as a solo artist, the Springfield version has a feel all its own. It captures the sound of late-'60s pop wonderfully. The addition of horns and strings may seem against the tide of the band's style, but in retrospect these elements work perfectly. A genuinely splendid record.
A Stephen Stills classic! The second track on the band's debut album, 'Sit Down'' is pristine folk-rock with a great garage band feel. The Springfield always had a slightly tougher sound than, say, the Byrds, and it's evident here. The song's simple, but highly effective, harmonies throughout fit like a glove. The balance between the clean, pretty guitar fills and the dirtier fuzz solo pairs up for an unbeatable combination. The song was covered by Bay Area rockers the Mojo Men who employed a more sophisticated, almost Beach Boys-like pop approach and took the song into the Top 40 in 1967.
A sweetly somber moment from the band's 1966 debut LP, 'Out Of My Mind' features a beautiful Neil Young melody. His plaintive reading of the lyric, coupled with the lush background vocals are enough to nudge a tear out of the old eye. The use of guitar through a Leslie speaker matched up with a fuzz guitar is a perfect marriage of sounds. Pure beauty all the way.
Stephen Stills certainly wrote some great songs, and 'Rock And Roll Woman' ranks right up with his best. You can hear traces of the road he would follow with David Crosby and Graham Nash in a couple years time at the roots of this one. The band were always clever enough to change things up in the feel of a song by altering the rhythm or adding just the right dynamics to take it away from simple 'folk-rock' terrain. Some tasty guitar work adds the perfect shading here.
'Go And Say Goodbye' is a real country-influenced stomper and one of that first album's key tracks. A nice change up by having the lead guitar part played on an acoustic this time around. The guitar interplay flows seamlessly. The song wants to become a full-on raver, but holds itself in check maintaining a sweet front-porch groove for all of its two and a half minutes. Gram Parsons always gets the nod as the country/rock pioneer, but in truth it was as much or more about Stephen Stills, Gene Clark of the Byrds and the Monkees' Mike Nesmith.
"Is my world not falling down, I'm in pieces on the ground and my eyes aren't open and I'm standing on my knees." What a line to start a song! Certainly one of Neil Young's finest early compositions. Its beauty and elegance is hard to top. Beautifully sung by Richie Furay, he pushes forth genuine sincerity from the lyric and captures a warmth that even our dear Neil's voice was never able to capture in solo live renditions. An absolute classic!
As far as songs that missed the boat the first time around, this has got to rank among the most head scratching. Why was this amazing tune left on the shelves during the Springfield days? It finally saw the light of day on Young's 'Decade' compilation in 1977. That version, featured Neil himself on lead vocals, but with the release of the Buffalo Springfield box set in 2001, we finally got the long lost take of the song with Stills on lead vocal. Though both versions are fantastic, Stills' performance has a sense of urgency that slightly trumps Neil's. Add in the backwards guitar and overall production, and it's easily one of their finest moments!
'Bluebird' is one of the band's definitive songs. That chiming 12-string acoustic of Stills runs hand-in-hand with the biting raunchy guitar of Young for a match made in heaven. The song is pop perfection in its original form on the band's second album, but just for the hell of it, we've chosen the rare nine-minute version that has been out-of-print for three decades. There are actually three different 'Bluebirds' to pick from. The original album version, which winds up in a banjo-driven coda, the original single edit, which fades out early, and this long jam take that only appeared on a 1973 compilation LP simply titled, 'Buffalo Springfield.' It's kind of been forgotten over the years, in no small part due to being unavailable, so we include it here to rescue it from the cutout bins of time. Any way you slice it, it's a great song!
One of Neil Young's signature songs, 'Mr. Soul' is full-on rock and roll for the ages. With its 'Satisfaction'-styled guitar riff, Young mixes in beautifully oblique lyrics covered with attitude to make one of the Springfield best records. The maximum fuzz lead break - with its echoes of Otis Redding's 'I Can't Turn You Loose' - still stands as definitive Neil. The song was issued as a single as well as opening up the band's sophomore offering, 'Buffalo Springfield Again.' It has remained a staple of Young's live shows ever since and was recently played on his 2012 US tour.
When it comes to Buffalo Springfield, if there is one song that is familiar to everyone, it's this one! 'For What It's Worth' exemplifies the us-vs.-them, take off your blinders lyrics of the era. It's been used, abused and drowned in airplay over its 46 years, but it refuses to die! And for good reason, its sound is utterly unique. From the unassuming bass-drum-and-guitar-harmonics intro through the rousing singalong chorus, it has become an American classic. Written in part in reaction to the 'riots on Sunset Strip' happening in mid-1966 where young people were coming to blows with the authorities. It caught the imagination of Stephen Stills and he turned it into pure poetry. Neil Young's subtle guitar breaks color the song with a tension that matches the lyric. Recorded as a single after their debut album had hit store shelves, it was added to later pressings and has remained the band's signature song for over 45 years.