Here, There & Everywhere: Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth” — 44 years later and still timely

By Don Heckman

Looking at the videos of police using pepper spray on U.C. Davis demonstrators, and using violent tactics on protestors elsewhere, has triggered a whole bunch of distant memories.   As has much of the media coverage of the Occupy movement as it has grown in size and intensity around the country.  The goals of the anti-war movement of the ’60s and today’s anti-corporation campaign may be different in detail,  but the quest to change the direction of a society heading in the wrong way for the wrong reasons is the same.  What was happening in the late ’60s is a natural parent of what is happening today.

All of which immediately brings to mind the song that was one of the definitive musical messages of the late ’60s — Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth.”  Written by Stephen Stills as a response to the Sunset Strip riot of 1966, it later became associated with the Kent State shootings of 1970.  But the message was, and is, timeless.  Which is why I’ve posted it here.  And I can easily imagine the last two lines of the chorus becoming the call of the crowd every time authorities resort to violent intimidation against peaceful demonstrators:

“Hey, what’s that sound, everybody look what’s going down!”

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