The Significance of The Buffalo Springfield Reunion: The Lefsetz Letter
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.
Photo by Misha Vladimirskiy - SPIN.com
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?
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
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.
"On The Way Home"
Richie Furay and Neil Young
Photo by Mary Hughes | Facebook