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Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Significance of The Buffalo Springfield Reunion: The Lefsetz Letter

Neil Young, Rick "The Bass Player" Rosas, Richie Furay
Photo by Joe "The Drummer" Vitale

The significance of The Buffalo Springfield reunion is hard to understate ... and not just for Neil Young fans.

As we alluded to earlier, this past weekend's 24th Annual Bridge School Benefit Concerts was literally a bridge building experience between multiple generations. From the indie-folkies of Grizzly Bear and Modest Mouse to the veterans of Leon Russel and Elton John, there was a sense that bands were linked in time while onstage. Legendary bluegrass master Dr. Ralph Stanley -- at a spry 83 years old -- seemed to epitomize this chasm spanning capability with his renditions of old school gospel which was immediately followed by the nether worldly vocals of Nekko Case.

These truly head spinning, whip lash inducing, mind bending musical pairings were the order of the 2 day, 14+ hour events. Simply marvelous value in today's over-hyped/under-valued culture.

Which brings us to the bridge that Neil Young built between the eras.

Between the idealistic 1960's Southern California/Sunset Blvd fringe jacket revolutionaries and the 1990's Northwest Coast/Seattle flannel slacker rockers.

Both The Buffalo Springfield and Pearl Jam are/were original, organically formed bands. Not some studio, star driven, corporate music industry, machine manufactured hyped brand product. Both bands were the real deal of their times.

Elvis Costello, Stephen Stills, Jackson Browne, Kris Kristofferson, Eddie Vedder, and Neil Young
Photo by Misha Vladimirskiy -

Which brings us to the significance of The Buffalo Springfield reunion.


From the consummate music industry insider/outsider Bob Lefsetz -- one of the very few music writers today that begins to come close to understanding Neil Young -- on the The Buffalo Springfield reunion in Lefsetz Letter:
For What It’s Worth

The biggest story in music this week is not Taylor Swift, certainly not Lady GaGa, not even Greyson Chance showing his 13 year old chops on 'Ellen'. No, the big story is the Buffalo Springfield reunion.

Are you going to San Francisco?

Sure, that’s a Scott McKenzie lyric, but I can’t tell you how many times that question popped up in my inbox the last two weeks. Was I going up to Shoreline, for the Buffalo Springfield reunion?

It’s kind of surprising that there’s an act yet to get back together, but that’s the case with the Springfield, a band that had one hit and wasn’t recognized for its greatness until its successor act, Crosby, Stills & Nash, broke and everybody hungered for more of this sound and purchased Buffalo Springfield’s greatest hits album 'Retrospective' which included not only the CSN-similar 'Rock And Roll Woman', but Neil Young’s extended 'Broken Arrow' and 'Mr. Soul' and…

CSN and sometimes Y were the biggest band at the turn of the decade, but Neil Young ultimately emerged triumphant, and despite the critical drubbing, I love the initial Souther, Hillman, Furay band album and if you don’t own the two CD 'Forgotten Trail' Poco compilation, you’re missing out.

Every one of the surviving Buffalo Springfield members is still working, albeit intermittently for Richie, but they hadn’t been working together until last weekend, and now the Net is blowing up about it.

But no one else is. It’s like a secret story. I’m sure there’ll be a story in 'Rolling Stone', but that’s too long after the fact. Then again, 'Rolling Stone' broke from its anachronistic ways to follow this story on its Website.

So on one hand it’s just like the sixties all over again, word of mouth is king. But will this word sustain or die out?

Interesting story…

If this were broadcast live on television, it would have been this week’s biggest entertainment story. Or a live show on HBO. Did Neil nix exploitation or did no one even think of it or were they waiting to see how it all turned out before they booked the obligatory tour?

There are a zillion YouTube clips. I’ll link to a few. But none of them are exactly like being there. And that’s what you wanted to be after viewing them. You truly felt like you missed out. And in today’s on demand/DVR/instant replay world you almost never feel that way.

And everybody is owning their age. Stills, in remarkably good voice considering the recent CSN dates, looks like he’s dressed to go to dinner, not play in front of thousands. In other words, it’s about the music, not the trappings.

And that’s a beacon to the rest of the world. Create something great and it lives forever. And you know what is being produced by the major labels is not built to last, hell, even a GM car will outlast one of today’s hits.

So we’re getting back to the garden. This performance was not built on hype. By time it happened, we were not already tired of it. It snuck up on us, passed by word of mouth like the need to attend Woodstock. The mainstream was out of the loop. But those who needed to know did. This is the way it used to be, and this is the way it is right now. Hype is not everything. If this show had been hyped, we’d have already forgotten it. But now people are still discovering it. It feels like we’re in the middle of something. Like Stephen sings, there’s something happening here, what it is ain’t exactly clear.

More from the consummate music industry insider/outsider Bob Lefsetz Letter on Neil Young's influence:
- Reaction to The Archives: Into the Blu and Out of the Black
- Neil Young at Olympics Closing Ceremonies
- "Sugar Mountain Live" Reviews
- The Price of Neil: When Art and Commerce Collide

Jeff Bridges, T-Bone Burnett, Kris Kristofferson, Stephen Stills
Photo by Wearenot Helpless

Also, see complete reports on 2010 Bridge School Benefit Concert (24th Annual) with reviews, photos, YouTube videos and commentary.

Also, see The Triumphant Reunion of The Buffalo Springfield, Pearl Jam and Neil Young @ 2010 Bridge School Benefit Concerts.

More on 2010 Bridge School Concert Highlights: Pro Shot Video on YouTube.

Also, see Buffalo Springfield, Pearl Jam & Others: "Rockin' in the Free World" @ Bridge Concert.

Remember, Rust Radio is streaming BSB this weekend.

Also, e2f is sharing some BSB favorites.

ooo-hoo, ooo-hoo,ooo-hoo
"On The Way Home"
Richie Furay and Neil Young

Photo by Mary Hughes | Facebook

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At 10/30/2010 10:53:00 AM, Blogger kevin said...

well, the reunion was fun, if a little off key. but i honestly don't see the writer's point about this reunion being a "big news story". i've heard others fantasize about a sold out arena tour...seriously? you think that, outside a dedicated hard core base, the mighty springfield has that many fans? most people only know one song.

count me as one who does not want a tour. they got back together, had some fun, played some tunes. just like the floyd reunion (except that one had more original members). besides, i'm sure richie has some preaching to do.

At 10/30/2010 11:04:00 AM, Blogger asg said...

I did find myself thinking (as I watched MR.SOUL for the umteenth time late last night)if RS is taking a rather casual approach to reporting this story maybe somebody else (MOJO?)will be more excited about it...but kevin is right, they re-united, it was great...that's good enuff for me...a commercially available DVD (both nights, rehearsal footage and interviews) would be nice--some of the proceeds going to the School of course...

At 10/30/2010 11:17:00 AM, Blogger Thrasher said...

@kevin & asg - thnx. your cynicism is always appreciated.

well, we're back to our trippy little Buff '60's time machine...


At 10/30/2010 11:29:00 AM, Blogger j.s.c. said...

>>just like the floyd reunion (except that one had more original members)<<<

Original memebers would not include Gilmour thus the Live 8 reunion had thre original memebers just like Springfield.

Syd, Dewey and Bruce

At 10/30/2010 12:20:00 PM, Blogger asg said...

so this time Thrasher apparently wants to cause all means let's go back to 1967 where ideas like possible de-criminalization of pot, legal abortion and a (half) African-American President were total fantasies...(sigh) I and lots of other Springfield fans have long wanted a re-union...I got what I wanted,I ain't gonna be greedy...I absolutely WAS cynical about the whole thing...but whatever ya wanna call the 5 guys onstage, they were pretty good...if THEY wanna do more,fine...if not, that's fine too.

At 10/30/2010 12:43:00 PM, Blogger asg said...

and for the record, I'm not an absolute fact I think of myself as a (cautious) optimist...thank you for allowing my comment btw...

peace, asg

At 10/30/2010 12:47:00 PM, Blogger Raincheck said...

I saw it, I loved it, every second. I would have loved another hour (Out of My Mind, Down to the Wire, Pretty Girl Why, Flying on the Ground is Wrong, Uno Mundo, whatever they wanted to play really.)

But I am skeptical about anything further. Even the Bridge crowd didn't know this band or many of these songs wnything like the way they know Neil, or Pearl Jam or even CSN.

Those of who wanted this are a passionate minority. Folks sitting around me were actually trying to figure who was going to be in the band ("oh, Stills was in the Buffalo Springfield?")

They did it, they did it great. They could dust it off again for special occasions, maybe Bridge in 3 years or some other one off event. But I don't think a new album makes sense. Neil likes to play with CSNY a lot more than he likes recording with them. A nostalgia tour is very un-Neil and of questionable commercial appeal.

But, hell, its Neil, so who knows. I would like a DVD or CD of the shows. Maybe as a spiff for a Bridge donation.

By the way, it was so cool.

At 10/30/2010 03:40:00 PM, Blogger kevin said...


calling me a cynic? really? is that the best you got?

i am TRULY sorry i expressed a view contrary to yours. from now on i shall follow the thrasher's wheat pledge, that neil young shits solid gold bricks 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

At 10/30/2010 07:29:00 PM, Blogger Melanie Young said...

"Create something great and it lives forever."

Amen, Mr. Lefsetz.

I wasn't born in the '60s; indeed, whenever I show up at certain concerts enthusiastic about who I'm going to see, I inevitably get some form of the following reaction: "You're too young to know about this music!" My good-natured response? "If that's the case, then nobody should still be playing or listening to Bach, Mozart, or Beethoven."

My point? I listen to music that's built to last. I don't give a damn if the Springfield only had one hit. I find a beauty and a resonance in their music that speaks to my 31-year-old self, today. That lone hit, a product of its time, is still relevant today. I watch the news and it's like nothing has changed from then to now. We should always keep listening to that sound and look around at what's going down, because the song always remains the same - even if it's played on different instruments.

Y'all dig me? ;-)

At 10/30/2010 07:31:00 PM, Blogger Melanie Young said...

Oh, and Raincheck? Word. I also hope there will be some form of these concerts released on CD or DVD for those of us not lucky enough to be there.

At 10/30/2010 08:25:00 PM, Blogger Dan1 said...

My only complaint against a BS reunion is that Neil sings every third or fourth song ... the whole reason in my view for his leaving BS and CSN is that as good as they were (are) he's better solo and/or with Crazy Horse ... so, count me in as someone who was thrilled about the reunion, and sad to miss it live, but just hoping to see Neil hit the road soon either solo, or with Crazy Horse, or PJ, or someone like that...

At 10/31/2010 02:23:00 AM, Blogger asg said...

good post raincheck...I find it a bit stunning that someone would not know Stills was in the Springfield...just makes me feel like the ol' geezer that I am...

At 10/31/2010 12:00:00 PM, Blogger Thrasher said...

@Melanie - thnx. good taste never goes out of style...

At 10/31/2010 01:22:00 PM, Blogger SONY said...

Neil could tour with this band without much problem. They do part Springfield and the rest of whatever he wants to do. He said 70% of his stuff involved Ben Keith, so he's gonna need to shift things a bit to keep it going. I thought the reunion was excellent. A short tour as the Springfield would work, it would sell out theaters like Twisted Road did.

At 11/01/2010 01:59:00 AM, Blogger Kathy said...

If you're a Bob Dylan fan, or hell just a music fan in general, I hope you've gotten the Whitmark Demos!

At 11/02/2010 07:26:00 PM, Blogger Powderfinger said...


I thought Springfield rocked. They were as tight as a band could be. Stills can still play guitar and sing, in spite of all the things to the contrary I've read in recent years.

Nice meeting and talking to you and the Mrs. at IRF, TW

Keep on rockin'.....


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