About the song
This is a blog post about the song “For What It’s Worth” by Buffalo Springfield, released in 1967.
“For What It’s Worth” is a folk rock song written by Stephen Stills, one of the members of Buffalo Springfield. The song was recorded on December 5, 1966 and released as a single on Atco Records in December 1966. It peaked at No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the spring of 1967 and was later added to the second pressing of their first album, Buffalo Springfield, in March 1967.
The song is often considered an anti-war song, but it was actually inspired by the Sunset Strip curfew riots in Los Angeles in November 1966, a series of clashes between police and young people who protested against the new laws that restricted their civil rights and nightlife on the Sunset Strip. Stills witnessed the riots firsthand and wrote the song as a commentary on the social unrest and the generation gap.
The song begins with the line “There’s something happening here / What it is ain’t exactly clear”, which sets the tone of ambiguity and confusion. The song then describes various scenes of conflict and tension, such as “a man with a gun over there”, “battle lines being drawn”, “young people speaking their minds” and “paranoia strikes deep”. The chorus repeats the phrase “It’s time we stop, hey, what’s that sound / Everybody look what’s going down”, which suggests a call for awareness and action. The song also uses the phrase “for what it’s worth”, which implies a humble and modest attitude from the narrator.
The song has a simple structure, consisting of four verses and four choruses, with a guitar solo after the second chorus. The song is in the key of E major and has a moderate tempo of 99 beats per minute. The instrumentation includes acoustic and electric guitars, bass, drums, tambourine and harmonica. The vocals are sung by Stills, with harmony vocals by Richie Furay and Neil Young.
The song has been widely covered by various artists, such as Cher, The Staple Singers, Rush, Ozzy Osbourne and Kid Rock. The song has also been used in many movies, TV shows, documentaries and commercials, such as Forrest Gump, Coming Home, Lord of War, Tropic Thunder and Heineken. The song is regarded as one of the greatest songs of all time and one of the most influential protest songs ever written.