♫ For What It’s Worth ♫ (Redux)

A few days ago, someone mentioned this song and it has stuck in my head ever since.  I didn’t think I had already played it, but it turns out I did … just over a year ago in March 2020.  I think this is especially relevant and timely since there is currently a bill before Parliament in the United Kingdom that would, among other things, give police the right to bar unauthorized encampments and detain protesters if gatherings are deemed a “public nuisance.” The new legislation, pending in Parliament, could also impose noise limits and set start and finish times on demonstrations.  There have been numerous protests against this bill, and last weekend at least 26 protestors were detained by police.  Seems this song never loses its relevance, eh?


meme-1

Written by Buffalo Springfield guitarist Stephen Stills, later of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, this song was not about anti-war gatherings, but rather youth gatherings protesting anti-loitering laws, and the closing of the West Hollywood nightclub Pandora’s Box. Stills was not there when they closed the club, but had heard about it from his bandmates.

In the book Neil Young: Long May You Run: The Illustrated History, Stephen Stills tells the story of this song’s origin:

“I had had something kicking around in my head. I wanted to write something about the kids that were on the line over in Southeast Asia that didn’t have anything to do with the device of this mission, which was unraveling before our eyes. Then we came down to Sunset from my place on Topanga with a guy – I can’t remember his name – and there’s a funeral for a bar, one of the favorite spots for high school and UCLA kids to go and dance and listen to music.

[Officials] decided to call out the official riot police because there’s three thousand kids sort of standing out in the street; there’s no looting, there’s no nothing. It’s everybody having a hang to close this bar. A whole company of black and white LAPD in full Macedonian battle array in shields and helmets and all that, and they’re lined up across the street, and I just went ‘Whoa! Why are they doing this?’ There was no reason for it. I went back to Topanga, and that other song turned into ‘For What It’s Worth,’ and it took as long to write as it took me to settle on the changes and write the lyrics down. It all came as a piece, and it took about fifteen minutes.”

Buffalo Springfield was the band’s first album, and this song was not originally included on it. After For What It’s Worth became a hit single, it replaced Baby Don’t Scold Me on re-issues of the album.

For What It’s Worth
Buffalo Springfield

There’s something happening here
But 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

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 saying, “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
Step out of line, the men come and take you away

We better stop
Hey, what’s that sound?
Everybody look – what’s going down?

We better stop
Hey, what’s that sound?
Everybody look – what’s going down?

We better stop
Now, what’s that sound?
Everybody look – what’s going down?

We better stop
Children, what’s that sound?
Everybody look – what’s going down?

Writer/s: Stephen Stills
Publisher: Warner Chappell Music, Inc.
Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind

♫ Heart of Gold ♫

While this one is not in my top ten list of favourites, I do like the song, and it was Neil Young’s biggest solo hit, released in 1972 and reaching #1 in the U.S. and Canada, and #10 in the UK.

According to SongFacts …

Young wrote this in 1971 after he suffered a back injury that made it difficult for him to play the electric guitar, so on the Harvest tracks he played acoustic. Despite the injury, Young was in good spirits (possibly thanks to the painkillers), which is reflected in this song.

This song was recorded at the first sessions for the Harvest album, which took place on Saturday, February 6, 1971 and were set up the night before.

Neil Young was in Nashville to record a performance for The Johnny Cash Show along with Tony Joe White, James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt. Elliot Mazer, a producer who owned nearby Quadrafonic Studios, set up a dinner party on February 5, inviting the show’s guests and about 50 other people. Mazer was friends with Young’s manager Elliot Roberts, who introduced the two at the gathering. Young and Mazer quickly hit it off when Neil learned that Elliot has produced a band called Area Code 615. Young asked if he could set up a session the next day, and Mazer complied.

Nashville has an abundance of studio musicians, but getting them to work on a Saturday could be a challenge. Mazur was able to get one member of Area Code 615: Drummer Kenny Buttrey. The other musicians he found were guitarist Teddy Irwin, bass player Tim Drummond, and pedal steel player Ben Keith. All were seasoned pros.

Keith, who had never heard of Neil Young, recalls showing up late and sitting down to play right away. He says they recorded five songs before they stopped for introductions.

James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt sang backup; they don’t come in until the end of the song. Like Young, Taylor and Ronstadt were in town to appear on The Johnny Cash Show (the song’s producer Elliot Mazer had produced Ronstadt’s 1970 Silk Purse album). Young convinced them to lend their voices to this track, and they came in on Sunday, February 7, 1971, the day after the rest of the song was completed.

When it was their turn to add harmonies, the task proved rather arduous. Ronstadt recalled to Mojo: “We were sat on the couch in the control room, but I had to get up on my knees to be on the same level as James because he’s so tall. Then we sang all night, the highest notes I could sing. It was so hard, but nobody minded. It was dawn when we walked out of the studio.”

Heart Of Gold
Neil Young

I want to live
I want to give
I’ve been a miner
For a heart of gold
It’s these expressions
I never give
That keep me searching
For a heart of gold
And I’m getting old
Keep me searching
For a heart of gold
And I’m getting old

I’ve been to Hollywood
I’ve been to Redwood
I crossed the ocean
For a heart of gold
I’ve been in my mind
It’s such a fine line
That keeps me searching
For a heart of gold
And I’m getting old
Keeps me searching
For a heart of gold
And I’m getting old

Keep me searching
For a heart of gold
You keep me searching
And I’m growing old
Keep me searching
For a heart of gold
I’ve been a miner
For a heart of gold

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Neil Young
Heart Of Gold lyrics © Silver Fiddle

♫ (Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay ♫

Tonight’s song has the distinction of being the first posthumous number one hit in American music history.   Otis Redding died in a plane crash on December 10, 1967, a month before this song was released (January 8, 1968) and three days after he recorded it. It was by far his biggest hit, though given that he was a rising star at the time of his death, it is likely he would have had at least a few more had he lived.  This is one of my favourites.

Stax guitarist Steve Cropper wrote this with Redding. Cropper produced the album when Redding died, including this track with various songs Redding had recorded the last few years.  Says Cropper …

“Otis was one of those kind of guys who had 100 ideas. Anytime he came in to record he always had 10 or 15 different intros or titles, or whatever. He had been at San Francisco playing The Fillmore, and he was staying at a boathouse (in Sausalito, across the bay from San Francisco), which is where he got the idea of the ship coming in. That’s about all he had: ‘I watch the ships come in and I watch them roll away again.’ I took that and finished the lyrics.  If you listen to the songs I wrote with Otis, most of the lyrics are about him. He didn’t usually write about himself, but I did. ‘Mr. Pitiful,’ ‘Sad Song Fa-Fa,’ they were about Otis’ life. ‘Dock Of The Bay’ was exactly that: ‘I left my home in Georgia, headed for the Frisco Bay’ was all about him going out to San Francisco to perform.”

The end of this song contains perhaps the most famous whistling in music history. It wasn’t planned, but when Steve Cropper and Stax engineer Ronnie Capone heard it, they knew it had to stay. Cropper explained on his website:

“If you’re an Otis Redding fan you’d know that he’s probably the world’s greatest at ad-libbing at the end of a song. Sometimes you could go another minute or two with Otis Redding’s ad-libs – they were so spontaneous and felt so great. And this particular song I think baffled Otis a little bit because of the tempo and the mood, so when we got down to the end of it he really didn’t have anything to ad-lib with, and he just started whistling. That just sparked Ronnie Capone and myself off, and almost immediately we said, ‘Hey man, that’s great, leave that in there.’ It sure is a cool melody to go out with.”

Redding recorded this with Booker T. & the MG’s, the house band for Stax Records. They played with all the Stax artists, including Wilson Pickett, Sam & Dave, and Albert King, and had a hit on their own with Green Onions in 1962.

In 1993, when the three remaining members of Booker T. & the MG’s (Steve Cropper, Donald “Duck” Dunn, and Booker T. Jones), backed Neil Young on his tour, they ended each show with Dock of the Bay.

Sittin’on The Dock Of The Bay
Otis Redding

Sitting in the morning sun
I’ll be sitting when the evening comes
Watching the ships roll in
And I watch ’em roll away again

Sitting on the dock of the bay
Watching the tide roll away
I’m just sitting on the dock of the bay
Wasting time
I left my home in Georgia
Headed for the ‘Frisco bay
‘Cause I had nothin to live for
And look like nothing’s gonna come my way
So I’m just

Look like nothing’s gonna change
Everything still remains the same
I can’t do what ten people tell me to do
So I guess I’ll remain the same
Sittin’ here resting my bones
And this loneliness won’t leave me alone
It’s two thousand miles I roamed
Just to make this dock my home
Now, I’m just

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Steve Cropper / Otis Redding
Sittin’on The Dock Of The Bay lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc, Universal Music Publishing Group

♫ OHIO ♫

Had I remembered the all-important date of May 4th, this is the song I would have played yesterday, on the 50th anniversary of the brutal slaying of four students by National Guardsmen on the campus of Kent State University on 04 May 1970.  I did not remember until Jeff reminded me with his post yesterday afternoon, so I am one day late with this song.

Neil Young wrote Ohio shortly after seeing a news report on the tragedy, and it was released by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young just 10 days after the shootings.

The Kent State shootings had a profound effect on some of the students who later became prominent musicians. Chrissie Hynde was a student at the time, and eventually formed The Pretenders. Mark Mothersbaugh and Jerry Casale were also on campus, and after the shootings, they developed the band Devo based on the concept of “De-Evolution,” meaning the human race was regressing. Said Casale …

“It refocused me entirely. I don’t think I would have done Devo without it. It was the deciding factor that made me live and breathe this idea and make it happen. In Chrissie Hynde’s case, I’m sure it was a very powerful single event that was traumatic enough to form her sensibility and account for a lot of her anger.”

Mothersbaugh added, “It was the first time I’d heard a song about something I’d been a participant in. It effected us. It was part of our life.”

This song became a protest anthem as Americans became fed up with the war in Vietnam. Providing a firsthand account of the shootings and the effect of this song, Alan Canfora relates:

“On May 4, 1970, I was waving a black protest flag as a symbol of my anger and despair 10 days after I attended the funeral of my 19-year-old friend killed in Vietnam. I was about 250 feet away from the kneeling, aiming guardsmen from Troop G – the death squad – minutes before they marched away up a hillside. They fired 67 shots from the hilltop during 13 seconds of deadly gunfire, mostly from powerful M1 rifles. I was shot through my right wrist. I survived because I jumped behind the only tree in the direct line of gunfire. About a week later, I was riding in the Ohio countryside with other Kent State massacre survivors when WMMS radio played the song ‘Ohio’ for the first time. We were deeply moved and inspired by that great anti-war anthem.”

Ohio
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

Tin soldiers and Nixon’s comin’
We’re finally on our own
This summer I hear the drummin’
Four dead in Ohio

Gotta get down to it
Soldiers are gunning us down
Should have been done long ago
What if you knew her and
Found her dead on the ground?
How can you run when you know?

Na na-na-na, na-na na-na
Na na-na-na, na-na na
Na na-na-na, na-na na-na
Na na-na-na, na-na na

Gotta get down to it
Soldiers are cutting us down
Should have been done long ago
What if you knew her and
Found her dead on the ground?
How can you run when you know?

Tin soldiers and Nixon’s comin’
We’re finally on our own
This summer I hear the drummin’
Four dead in Ohio
Four dead in Ohio (Four dead)
Four dead in Ohio (Four)
Four dead in Ohio (How many?)
Four dead in Ohio (How many more?)
Four dead in Ohio (Why?)
Four dead in Ohio (Oh!)
Four dead in Ohio (Four)
Four dead in Ohio (Why?)
Four dead in Ohio (Why?)

Source: Musixmatch
Songwriters: Neil Young
Ohio lyrics © Universal Music – Z Tunes Llc, Almo Music Corp., Sony/atv Tunes Llc, Drop Your Pants Publishing, Zomba Enterprises Inc., Silly Fish Music, Zac Maloy Music, Broken Arrow Music, Almo Music Corporation, Universal Music-z Tunes, Broken Arrow Music Corp., Rondor Music Corp, Sony/atv Tunes Llc Obo Zac Maloy Music, Universal Music-z Tunes Obo Drop Your Pants Publishing, Almo Music Obo Silly Fish Music

♫ For What It’s Worth ♫

Last week, when Jolly had gone AWOL and I had to settle for a few cartoons on the ‘Jolly Monday’ post, one of the memes I posted was this …meme-1

Well, as you might imagine, the song by Buffalo Springfield has been reverberating within the confines of my skull ever since.

We had some fun last week with songs that were … just for fun.  Tonight feels more … introspective, though … maybe time to get back to reality?  This song … listen to the lyrics and tell me it couldn’t have been written just yesterday?

Written by Buffalo Springfield guitarist Stephen Stills, later of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, this song was not about anti-war gatherings, but rather youth gatherings protesting anti-loitering laws, and the closing of the West Hollywood nightclub Pandora’s Box. Stills was not there when they closed the club, but had heard about it from his bandmates.

In the book Neil Young: Long May You Run: The Illustrated History, Stephen Stills tells the story of this song’s origin:

“I had had something kicking around in my head. I wanted to write something about the kids that were on the line over in Southeast Asia that didn’t have anything to do with the device of this mission, which was unraveling before our eyes. Then we came down to Sunset from my place on Topanga with a guy – I can’t remember his name – and there’s a funeral for a bar, one of the favorite spots for high school and UCLA kids to go and dance and listen to music.

[Officials] decided to call out the official riot police because there’s three thousand kids sort of standing out in the street; there’s no looting, there’s no nothing. It’s everybody having a hang to close this bar. A whole company of black and white LAPD in full Macedonian battle array in shields and helmets and all that, and they’re lined up across the street, and I just went ‘Whoa! Why are they doing this?’ There was no reason for it. I went back to Topanga, and that other song turned into ‘For What It’s Worth,’ and it took as long to write as it took me to settle on the changes and write the lyrics down. It all came as a piece, and it took about fifteen minutes.”

Buffalo Springfield was the band’s first album, and this song was not originally included on it. After For What It’s Worth became a hit single, it replaced Baby Don’t Scold Me on re-issues of the album.

For What It’s Worth
Buffalo Springfield

There’s something happening here
But 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

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 saying, “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
Step out of line, the men come and take you away

We better stop
Hey, what’s that sound?
Everybody look – what’s going down?

We better stop
Hey, what’s that sound?
Everybody look – what’s going down?

We better stop
Now, what’s that sound?
Everybody look – what’s going down?

We better stop
Children, what’s that sound?
Everybody look – what’s going down?

Writer/s: Stephen Stills
Publisher: Warner Chappell Music, Inc.
Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind