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"For What It's Worth"
Single by Buffalo Springfield
from the album Buffalo Springfield
B-side "Do I Have to Come Right Out and Say It?"
Released January 9, 1967
Format 7" single
Recorded December 5, 1966
Genre Folk rock
Length 2:37
Label Atco
Writer(s) Stephen Stills
Buffalo Springfield singles chronology
"For What It's Worth"

"For What It's Worth" is a song written by Stephen Stills. It was performed by Buffalo Springfield and released as a single in January 1967; it was later added to the re-release of their first album, Buffalo Springfield. The single peaked at number seven on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. In 2004, this song was #63 on Rolling Stone's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. The song is currently ranked as the 99th greatest song of all time, as well as the eighth best song of 1967, by Acclaimed Music.[1]


Song information

While the song has come to symbolize worldwide turbulence and confrontational feelings arising from events during the 1960s (particularly the Vietnam War), Stills reportedly wrote the song in reaction to escalating unrest between law enforcement and young club-goers related to the closing of Pandora's Box, a club on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, California. The song's title appears nowhere in its lyrics; it is more easily remembered by the first line of chorus: "Stop, children, what's that sound? Everybody look what's going down."

Stills said in an interview that the name of the song came about when he presented it to the record company executive Ahmet Ertegun who signed the Buffalo Springfield to the Atlantic Records owned ATCO label. He said: "I have this song here, for what it's worth, if you want it." Later they decided that should be its name.[citation needed]

In 2006, when interviewed on Tom Kent's radio show "Into the '70s", Stephen Stills pointed out that many people think "For What It's Worth" is about the Kent State Shootings (1970), despite having been actually recorded four years before that event.[citation needed]

The song was also played at Buffalo Springfield's induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

In popular culture

"For What It's Worth" has been covered countless times, and its prevalent use in film, as well as common sampling and references in other media, has made it something of an icon of Vietnam-era protest songs. Among these many references, two are most notable for both originality and popularity.

The 1998 song "He Got Game" (from the Spike Lee film of the same name) by hip hop music group Public Enemy not only samples "For What It's Worth", but also features Stephen Stills re-performing the bridge specially for that track.

Led Zeppelin covered the song during Communication Breakdown during their famous Live On Blueberry Hill concert.

A February 13, 1978 episode of The Muppet Show re-writes the song with animals singing slightly altered anti-hunting lyrics. The musical interlude was filled with hunters wildly shooting their guns while animals (many of them from Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas) hide.[2]

Other covers include: Cher (3614 Jackson Highway), Rush (Feedback), Rise Against (AOL Sessions), Staple Singers (For What It's Worth), Keb' Mo (Peace...Back By Popular Demand), Ozzy Osbourne (Under Cover), Hed PE (Insomnia), Oui 3. It was also used as an interpolation to Jimi Thing by the Dave Matthews Band (The Central Park Concert). Sergio Mendes and Brasil '66's version formally introduced the song to A/C radio (#101 pop, #10 MOR, 1970).

The original version has appeared in several movies, such as Coming Home, Purple Haze, Forrest Gump, Panther, Made in Heaven, Girl, Interrupted, Lord of War, Walk on Water, and Tropic Thunder, and the TV shows The West Wing (in the episode "Isaac and Ishmael"), The Wonder Years (in the second episode "Swingers") and Heartbeat. The song was also briefly referenced in the film Ice Age.

The famous acoustic guitar riff was sampled and altered for Nelly Furtado's hit, Turn Off The Light.

Though not included on the soundtrack, it was Born on the Fourth of July's trailer score.

Eric Burdon covered it in summer 2008 together with Carl Carlton and Max Buskohl. Recently it was released as a single.

The Pop Culture Suicides covered this song.

Christian hip-hop artist tobyMac covered the song, titling it "What's Going Down"

Hugh Cornwell included a cover of this song on his album Footprints in the Desert, released in 2002.

Some of the lyrics are spoken by Jake Gyllenhaal in the film Brokeback Mountain (2005).

The band Jellyfish referenced the song in their rare demo track "Season Of The Witch".

Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman quoted a phrase from the song for the title of an op-ed column in the New York Times. [3]

British band The Candyskins covered it on their 1991 debut album, Space I'm In.[4]


External links



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