Thursday, September 23, 2010

Buffalo Springfield: For What It's Worth

Our TV Thursday tune during this Buffalo Springfield week happens to be their best known recording. As how it fits our daily theme, “For What It’s Worth” was utilized in both the commercial and trailer for Oliver Stone’s “Born on the Fourth of July” from 1989.

This Stephen Stills’ composition has come to epitomize the turmoil of the late 1960s that included racial and political unrest and the Vietnam War. Stills wrote the song in October 1966 when he witnessed police brutality during a gathering of people who were protesting the closing of a West Hollywood night club.

It was recorded in December 1966 and the title came about when Stills presented a copy of the song to Atlantic Records’ president Ahmet Ertegün by saying something to the effect of “I have this song, for what it’s worth.” Ultimately, this influenced the song's name – a title that had no relation to the song’s lyrics.

Released as a single in January 1967, the song did so well that ATCO re-released the band’s first LP and replaced the song “Baby Don’t Scold Me” with “For What it’s Worth” by March 1967. The single peaked at #7 and was certified gold for selling over a million copies. Here’s an abbreviated performance from the Smothers Brothers’ Show.

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