As opposed to the usual modern bands I cover, for this Top 10, I’ve decided to step back in time and take a look at some of the work of this Canadian-American band and choose the Top 10 Buffalo Springfield Songs.
Their time together was very brief, just over two years, and they managed only three albums and nine singles. Of those singles, half were poorly received. But, some of their songs had an impact on music in the 60s.
Springfield included the likes of Neil Young, Jim Messina, Richie Furay, Bruce Palmer, Steven Stills, and Dewey Martin. But, as I said, it didn’t last long.
Here Comes The Ego
At the time, there was just beginning this ego trip that was called “The Supergroup.” It caused the cessation of many good bands. The irony was they weren’t “super” and didn’t have the commercial success that many “ordinary” bands had.
Formed not for the music, but so they can pretend to the world they were superior. They weren’t. Springfield was one band that suffered. Yet, people still were convinced they were wonderful.
Neil Young went off to perform a solo act. Although, he did get himself mixed up with one of these groups for a while. But, he was always better with Springfield or on his own. Stills, of course, went off and helped to form one of these groups.
Of course, that is all history and opinion. Our efforts here will be concentrated on what Buffalo Springfield achieved musically, which in a short time, was quite a lot. So, let’s dive into my choices for Buffalo Springfield’s Top 10 songs.
26 Best Buffalo Springfield Songs of All Time
Out Of My Mind
Let’s go back to the beginning and their first album released in 1966, the self-titled Buffalo Springfield. The album only reached #80 on the American album chart, which is surprising because it contained many of the best Buffalo Springfield songs.
“Out Of My Mind” was written by Neil Young. As you can hear, it was recorded during a time of musical experimentation. It was the early days of distortion, or “fuzz pedals,” as we came to know them, and one is used here. Also, one guitar is played through a Leslie cabinet.
But, it is the song that is important, with some nice vocals backing up Neil Young’s lead vocal. The lyrics paint anything but a nice image. Perhaps Neil was already feeling the strain. The song was not released as a single.
Go and Say Goodbye
Staying with that first album from 1966. This song was on the B-side of their first single, “Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing,” which only made #110 on the American chart and #75 in Canada.
This is a song that has a very strong Country influence. Not what most people would have expected to hear from them, but it does show the influences they had in their early days. It is sometimes labeled as a Country Rock song, but I wouldn’t go that far.
Not much Rock about it. But, for those that like Country Music traditional with some good vocals, this is going to be popular. Written by Steven Stills, it’s a good Buffalo Springfield song.
A Child’s Claim To Fame
This is a song with interesting lyrics taken from their second album, Buffalo Springfield Again, released in 1967. The song was written by Richard Furay, who later played with Poco. It was included as the B-side of their fifth single, “Rock & Roll Woman,” released in 1967.
This track was only one of two singles they released during their time together that made the Top 50 in America. It peaked at #37 in Canada.
Another song with a heavy Country influence and some nice Dobro, resonator guitar. It is the lyrics, though, that are interesting. Furay is clearly talking about someone. Once again, a song that will delight the Buffalo Springfield fans who prefer their more Country-style sound.
On the Way Home
By the time 1968 had arrived, the band was all but finished. The record company released one last album, Last Time Around. This included songs previously unreleased that had been recorded just before their split. As you can imagine, it wasn’t received enthusiastically by some. But there were some nice tracks, and this is one.
The song was written by Neil Young but sung here rather well by Richard Furay. This is a song moving on from some of their earlier Country-style tracks. With the addition of a few strings and some horns, it has a real “end of the 60s” sound. It was their final single release but only made #82 on the American chart.
Neil Young continued to sing the song in his concerts for many years, as we can hear from this live recording at Carnegie hall from 1970.
Let’s get a little complex with this track. It was written by Neil Young, and when it was recorded, he was the only one of the band present. Richard Furay’s vocals and other instruments were added afterward. It is taken from the second album, Buffalo Springfield Again.
This is an interesting song that is in three parts…
It starts by sounding like it was recorded at a live show. The sound of the crowd, though, was taken from the recording of a Beatles concert.
It is evident how the different influences of the members of the band are now taking hold. The second section starts with a booing crowd, this time not The Beatles.
There are references to the Broken Arrow, a symbolic gesture made by Creek Indians. And there are time changes for each of the three sections. The final section features some nice Jazz piano and clarinet. Light years away from some of their early recordings, it is an interesting track to listen to because of its variety.
This was the song chosen to be the follow-up to Buffalo Springfield’s biggest song, which we shall look at later. It was taken from the second album Buffalo Springfield Again, and was written by Steven Stills.
It’s also one of the most well-known Buffalo Springfield songs, aside from the most obvious track. The sound is what most will usually associate with the band. Chiming twelve-string guitars with a little gently distorted solo guitar and some nice vocals. There is much more of a Pop-oriented sound.
But, it didn’t do as well commercially as they probably thought it might. It reached #38 in Canada and #58 in America. There are various versions of the song, including a lengthy nine-minute effort.
Flying on the Ground is Wrong
Back again to the first album, Buffalo Springfield, for this song from 1966. It wasn’t released as a single. However, I have included it here because it highlights Neil Young’s excellent songwriting.
Lyrically, it is a sad song in some respects. In the song, Young talks about losing a friend because of his drug problems. It is sung sympathetically by Richie Furay.
Neil Young has the ability to catch these emotions in song without making them sound trite. A little like James Taylor is also able to do. This is a good example and one of the Top 10 Buffalo Springfield Songs.
Expecting To Fly
Neil Young’s contribution to the Buffalo Springfield Again album is incalculable. The great songs from that second album were all his. This is one of them.
Another song that Young would often include in his own concerts after the demise of Buffalo Springfield. It was released as a single in 1967 and reached #41 in Canada and #98 in America. It was also included in the film Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
Another track from the Buffalo Springfield Again album and another song written by Neil Young. And, another song he would keep in his live performances in the early 70s, and until recently, still did. It is one of the most popular Buffalo Springfield songs, even though it was just a B-side to the single “Bluebird.”
Neil Young is in a Rock and Roll mood with a guitar riff in the verses that has just a hint of The Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction” about it. It has been covered by multiple major artists.
For What It’s Worth
Let’s finish back where we started with the first album, Buffalo Springfield. When you ask just about anybody to name the most famous Buffalo Springfield song, most will usually say this one. Released in 1966, it wrote itself into music folklore.
In some circles, it is thought of as an anti-Vietnam protest song, and it has been used in that way. But, it was originally something else.
Buffalo Springfield had just assumed a residency at the Whisky A Go-Go in Los Angeles when riots over the curfews started on Sunset Strip. Police and young people fighting in the streets – that is what the song was initially all about. Steven Stills wrote this song which will be forever associated with them. A classic of its genre.
Sit Down I Think I Love You
Rock & Roll Woman
Do I Have to Come Right Out and Say It
Pretty Girl Why
Pay the Price
Mr. Tambourine Man
I Am a Child
Hour of Not Quite Rain
It’s So Hard to Wait
Good Time Boy
Want More Great Music from the 60s and 70s?
If so, check out our thoughts on the Best Classic Rock Songs, the Best 60s Rock Bands, the Best 70s Rock Songs, the Best 70s Rock Bands, the Top 10 Marshall Tucker Band Songs, and the Top 10 Santana Songs for awesome song selections.
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Top 26 Buffalo Springfield Songs – Final Thoughts
Were they overrated? In the eyes of some, they were. They weren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but some of that can be down to disliking certain band members. Is there an aura about them that is not justified?
Their chart listings were poor compared with others. And, having listened to ‘live’ performances, they weren’t that good either. But there is something about them.
Some of the music was very good, the lyrics excellent, and they went a long way in a short time musically. Most of that was Neil Young, in my view. But, then, they had “that” song.
Played To Death
“For What It’s Worth” has been played to death over the years, but it doesn’t matter. Whenever and wherever you are, when you hear it, the song means something. It represents an era, and outside of Bob Dylan, it was one of the very few “protest songs” that really hit home. It still does.
Buffalo Springfield left a mark on our musical culture, so you can’t call anyone that does that overrated. They might not have been commercially successful. But success isn’t always measured by dollar signs, is it? It is how you are thought of. And people love the band and their music. End of subject.
To hear some more of them, a good album is Buffalo Springfield – Retrospective. It will take you back to a time when, in many ways, life was simpler. No bad thing, in my view.
Until next time, happy listening.