The noise of battle is in the land, and great destruction. – Jeremiah 50:22
There’s something happening here
But what it is ain’t exactly clear
There’s a man with a gun over there
Telling me I got to beware
Ahh yes, the 60’s. The British may have been invading the music scene, but it was boots on the ground for the US of A. Both in the paddies and hills of Vietnam and in the streets and college campuses here at home.
TV channels were limited then, so there was no hiding it. A whole generation had gone to war with it’s predecessors.
And each side had chosen it’s own form of weapons.
Buffalo Springfield’s message to us was a clarion call to stop, look and listen, just like Elvis Presley before.
I was a shade too young to be shipped off to war in 1967, but all of us in the neighborhood had or knew someone’s older brother who had gone. And some did not return.
I think it’s time we stop
Children, what’s that sound?
Everybody look – what’s going down?
It certainly was time to look at what was going down and, as Marvin sang, what was going on. It seemed like the earth was spinning off it’s axis in a thousand different directions and we were truly on the road to Barry McGuire’s “Eve of Destruction”. It was college kids battling the police, protesters damning the war, parents battling teens on drugs, soldiers fighting the war and blacks and whites trying to come to terms with the ending of “separate but equal”.
There’s battle lines being drawn
Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong
Young people speaking’ their minds
Getting so much resistance from behind
In the middle of it all, there were peace symbol necklaces, soldiers flashing peace signs and rockers with protest songs. There was “flower power”, “make love not war” and Dr. Tim telling us all to “turn on, tune in and drop out”. Very groovy, baby!
It certainly was hard to tell what was right from wrong. But you could sense something in the air; a change was gonna come.
What a field day for the heat
A thousand people in the street
Singing songs and carrying signs
Mostly saying, “hooray for our side”
All we really had to do was listen. For Jesus had established the righteous truth long, long ago. The peacemakers, the pure of heart, the merciful and the persecuted…they were all blessed. And they were the light unto the world. It took all of these events unfolding to fulfill Jesus’ words on the Mount. And goodness prevailed.
Paranoia strikes deep
Into your life it will creep
It starts when you’re always afraid
Step out of line, the men come and take you away
Buffalo Springfield, in it’s original 1966 lineup, included the likes of Stephen Stills and Neil Young (CSN&Y), Richie Furay (Poco), Dewey Martin (The Monkees session player) and Bruce Palmer. In retrospect, they were probably the first (or second if Cream got in there ahead of them) “supergroup”.
They recorded only 3 albums and their biggest hit “For What It’s Worth” was not on their debut, but after it took off on the charts reaching #7, was later added to the re-issue. The title never appears in the song’s lyrics and legend holds that it came from a conversation that Stephen Stills had with Ahmet Ertegun of Atlantic Records (who was the first guy to recognize the genius of Ray Charles btw) when they were about to be signed to a record deal. It’s been said that Stills said to Ertegun, “I have this song here, for what it’s worth, if you want it.”
While “For What It’s Worth” came to symbolize the Vietnam war protest movement and the tragedy at Kent State University, the truth is the song was written about a 10:00 curfew law in the LA/Sunset Strip club district. When one of LA’s most powerful radio stations announced a protest, over 1,000 young demonstrators (including young celebs like Peter Fonda and Jack Nicholson) turned out for one of the first of what were later referred to as the “Sunset Strip Riots”.
The 60’s are like a bookend to me with the 2000’s. My politics have reverted (liberally) over time. My religious beliefs have been strengthened.
I look at everything through the lens of WWJD.
And that’s what rules…for what it’s worth.
2 thoughts on “Battle Lines Being Drawn”
Fine song thoughtfully used. Regards thom