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#QueerQuote: “Young People Speaking Their Minds / Getting So Much Resistance From Behind…” – Stephen Stills

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Today’s quote is from For What It’s Worth, written by Stephen Stills, preformed by Buffalo Springfield in 1967, the Summer Of Love.

It was recorded on December 1966 and released as a single in January 1967. It peaked at Number Seven on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. For What It’s Worth is Number 63 on Rolling Stone Magazine’s ”The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”.

For What It’s Worth is thought of as an anti-war song, yet Stills was inspired to write the track because of the Sunset Strip Curfew Riots, a series of counterculture-era clashes that took place between police and young people on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood, beginning in mid-1966, the same year Buffalo Springfield became the house band at the club Whisky a Go Go on the Sunset Strip. Local residents and businesses had become annoyed by the crowds of young people going to clubs and music venues along the Strip. The city to passed ordinances stopping loitering and enforced a strict curfew on the Sunset Strip after 10pm. The young music fans felt the new laws infringed upon their civil rights.

On Saturday, November 12, 1966, fliers were distributed along the Sunset Strip inviting people to join demonstrations later that day. Several radio stations also announced a rally outside Pandora’s Box, a club at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Crescent Heights. That evening, more than 1,000 demonstrators, including young Jack Nicholson and Peter Fonda were handcuffed by police. The protests began peacefully, but trouble eventually broke out. The riots continued the next night, and then periodically for the next two months. It was against the background of this civil unrest that Stills recorded For What It’s Worth.

Photo via YouTube

There is even a film about it; Riot On Sunset Strip (1967), a counterculture-era exploitation flick starring Aldo Ray. All I remember about it was that it taught us drugs are bad and make you horny.

Stills said that the name of the song came when he presented the demo to the record company executive Ahmet Ertegun, and said:

“I have this song here, for what it’s worth, if you want it.”

For What It’s Worth quickly became an essential protest song. It has been covered, sampled, and referenced by all sorts of musicians including: David Cassidy, Stevie NicksThe Staple Singers, Cher, Queensrÿche and Public Enemy.

 

For What It Is Worth

There’s something happening here

What it is ain’t exactly clear

There’s a man with a gun over there

Telling me I got to beware

I think it’s time we stop, children, what’s that sound

Everybody look what’s going down

 

There’s battle lines being drawn

Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong

Young people speaking their minds

Getting so much resistance from behind

It’s time we stop, hey, what’s that sound

Everybody look what’s going down

 

What a field-day for the heat

A thousand people in the street

Singing songs and carrying signs

Mostly say, hooray for our side

It’s time we stop, hey, what’s that sound

Everybody look what’s going down

 

Paranoia strikes deep

Into your life it will creep

It starts when you’re always afraid

You step out of line, the man come and take you away

We better stop, hey, what’s that sound

Everybody look what’s going down

 

Stop, hey, what’s that sound

Everybody look what’s going down

Stop, children, what’s that sound

Everybody look what’s going down

 

Stills Has a Message for Trump. His 2016 song Look Each Other In The Eye, rails against the president and his vanity and hatred.


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