B is for… Could it be The Byrds, Bardo Pond, The Band, Bill Mallonee, The Bible, Bill Fay, Bennett Wilson Poole, Ben Howard, Ben Folds, Beck, Band of Heathens, Band of Horses, Barzin or any of the countless others in my collection beginning with B that could be considered Americana? Well it could but for this article it’s the Buffalo Springfield!
Possibly THE touchstone of Americana country rock they started in 1966 and burnt out in 1968 a two year period that set a very high bar and gave the world some of the greatest music of a decade filled with greats. The very idea that their first two singles were ‘Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing’ and ‘For What It’s Worth’ is extraordinary. Yet it happened and this group of disparate individuals sowed more seeds that flowered in the garden of Americana than most before or after.
Blooded by a six-week residency at the Whisky A Go Go in May/June of 1966 Neil Young, Stephen Stills, Richie Furay, Dewey Martin and Bruce Palmer released their first eponymous album in December of that year. It was followed by ‘Buffalo Springfield Again’ in 1968 and ‘Last Time Around’ in 1968 after the band had split. All the musicians went on to forge exceptional solo or joint careers but the Springfield remained the furnace that forged their songwriting and creative energy. And they are recognised as trailblazers both in and outside of the music industry. Robert Plant considers ‘Expecting to Fly‘ one of his key influences whilst ‘For What It’s Worth‘ has become a touchstone of political commentary concerning civil rights and anti-war protest despite its less than grandiose roots as a protest over the closing of a local club.
Key tracks in the canon abound beyond that opening brace of brilliance – ‘Broken Arrow’, ’Bluebird’, ’On the Way Home’, ’Expecting to Fly’, ’Mr Soul’, ’Burned’, and ‘Everydays’, to name but a few.
All three albums reward time spent with them, but at a push ‘Buffalo Springfield Again’ is probably the strongest set.
Key track: ‘Broken Arrow’