Review of Buffalo Springfield debut (1966)

Level B1+/B2; Genre: Psychedelic, Rock

A band whose individual members were very talented, but somehow never made it together. Today we’re looking at the band Buffalo Springfield and their self-titled debut album ‘Buffalo Springfield’.

Who were they?

The band comprised of:

  • Stephen Stills,
  • David Crosby (formerly of the popular American band The Byrds)
  • Richie Furay, a friend of Stills
  • Canadian singer-songwriter and guitarist Neil Young, who later formed Crazy Horse.

the album

Buffalo Springfield’s first album has a mixture of different sounds from psychedelia to rock ‘n’ roll. The first track ‘For What It’s Worth’ the band’s only big hit, has a mellow sound, beautiful electric guitar with Stills’ Texan voice and Richie Furay on backing vocals. Furthermore, the lyrics reflect anxiety in the USA during the mid 1960s. Stills starts by saying: ‘There’s something happening here, what it is ain’t exactly clear. There’s a man with a gun over there, telling me I’ve got to beware’. He later proclaims: ‘Nobody is right everybody’s wrong’ – something which is a paradox in itself. 

Going deeper into the album we have hints of the west coast country influence in songs such as ‘Go And Say Goodbye’ sung by Furay and Stills. The guitar skills of Stills and Young can be heard with both musicians taking it turns to play lead.

psychedelic sweetness

We can find psychedelic sweetness in ‘Everybody’s Wrong’ and ‘Flying On The Ground Is Wrong’ – the former written by Stills, the latter by Neil Young. These suggest the changing music styles that shaped the west coast of America in the mid ‘60s. ‘Everybody’s Wrong’ depicts a world in which everything you do is wrong and sends chills down the listeners spine: ‘Those of us who run to catch a moment in the sun, seem to find that when we’re done, we weren’t supposed to run’.

‘Flying On The Ground Is Wrong’ implies more of a longing for a person, who believes flying on the ground is wrong: ‘And flying on the ground is wrong… …and I miss you’.

end of the album; my favourites

The end of the album’s first side has a very clever r ‘n’ b song: ‘Hot Dusty Roads’ . The lyrics ‘I don’t tell no tales about no hot dusty roads; I’m a city boy and I stay at home’ – a reference to Stephen Stills’ background in Texas.

Neil Young wrote my personal favourites on this album ‘Burned’ and also ‘Pay The Price’, the final track off the album. In ‘Burned’, we can hear the unmistakable sound of Young’s voice. This would be a signature of his future work – strong, powerful and yet somehow the person behind is reserved.

Pay the Price is an upbeat rock ‘n’ roll style song with harmonic lead guitar probably played by Stills or Young. In the middle of the track, you can hear an exquisite electric sound. Stills declares that ‘you can’t have two pieces of advice, pay the price’.

for english learners

Many of you will be thinking why this album is good for you. First of all, we have the improper use of a determiner: ‘ I don’t tell no tales about no hot dusty roads’. Here, Stills should have used the word any. Secondly, Stills uses an improper use of the present simple: ain’t instead of isn’t. For English learners of a higher level, you will learn a lot improper language from this album, but it shouldn’t be used in your working environment. Finally, you shouldn’t use this type of language if you’re at a job interview.


Stephen Stills Bio Page

Richie Furay’s Buffalo Springfield Page

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