Buffalo Springfield: Five Best Songs

Buffalo Springfield were a short-lived but influential Californian folk-rock band. They produced one of the defining protest songs of the 1960s, ‘For What It’s Worth’, and launched the careers of Neil Young, Stephen Stills, Richie Furay of Poco, and Jim Messina of Loggins and Messina.

Buffalo Springfield’s lineup was fluid – the temperamental Young quit and rejoined several times, while bassist Bruce Palmer was deported to Canada for drug offences. Their discography is patchy – of their three long playing records, their first album is formative and their last album was a contract fulfilling effort that was pieced together after the group had disbanded.

Despite their small discography, Buffalo Springfield had a handful of outstanding songs, and for fans of 1960s music, it’s worth seeking out 1967’s Buffalo Springfield Again or 1969’s compilation Retrospective. Some of Young’s work in the band is also covered on his excellent 1977 Decade compilation.

Here are five of my favourite Buffalo Springfield songs:

Rock & Roll Woman

written by Stephen Stills, from Buffalo Springfield Again (1967)

‘Rock & Roll Woman’ marks the first pairing of David Crosby and Stephen Stills on record – Crosby co-wrote the song and is rumoured to have added backing vocals. The pair would, of course, later team up in Crosby, Stills, and Nash.

For What It’s Worth

written by Stephen Stills, added to later versions of Buffalo Springfield (1966)

Stills’ ‘For What It’s Worth’ is Buffalo Springfield’s best known song. Despite its ubiquity in 1960s documentaries, it holds up, especially Young’s memorable lead guitar lines.

Broken Arrow

written by Neil Young, from Buffalo Springfield Again (1967)

Neil Young cut loose on this six minute multi-part epic, which kicks off with a pseudo-live excerpt of album opener ‘Mr. Soul’, and cycles through three verses, themed around the emptiness of fame, teenage angst, and hopelessness.


written by Stephen Stills, from Buffalo Springfield Again (1967)

Not to be outdone by Young, Stills contributed his own multi-part song to Buffalo Springfield Again, with lots of banjo.

Expecting To Fly

written by Neil Young, from Buffalo Springfield Again (1967)

On hiatus from Buffalo Springfield, Neil Young recorded this song with Phil Spector sideman Jack Nitzsche, with the expectation that it would appear on a solo project. It has an otherworldly beauty, with Young’s high pitched vocal perfectly suited to the song’s quiet beauty.

Do you have a favourite Buffalo Springfield song? Should I have included ‘Mr. Soul’, ‘Hung Upside Down’, or ‘I Am A Child’?

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  1. Great picks. …Again is one of my favourite Young related releases, so I’d probably pick the four you’ve selected from that one and add Mr. Soul in place of For What It’s Worth.

    • I was pretty tempted to go five from Buffalo Springfield Again – I’m also a big fan of Stills’ ‘Hung Upside Down’ – but it felt wrong to leave off ‘For What It’s Worth’. I’ve heard it a lot, but still really like Young’s lead guitar.

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