Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing

The short lived Buffalo Springfield sat at an odd intersection of West Coast psychedelia and the nascent bluegrass revival. Needless to say, that’s not a niche with a huge market share. Wasn’t back then and still isn’t. The sound worked though, even if the personalities within didn’t. Today Buffalo Springfield is considered an important band mainly for launching the career of Neil Young. It’s hard to imagine what the group’s legacy would be without the shadow of Young’s phenomenal success as a solo artist. But their work played a part in the revival of American folk music, and we can thank them for helping to establish the very, very narrow stream of what I would call the ‘left-wing country-western’ genre. Country-Western music being largely the domain of right wing traditionalism, but not without a small counterwave striving to revive it outside of the ugly political context it’s fallen into. (Look up Sturgill Simpson for a prime example.) Rock and roll has always leaned heavily on the blues (African-rooted) side of its heritage; groups like Buffalo Springfield brought to the forefront the other side, showing the influence of European-stemming folk tradition. For whatever complex sociological reasons, blues based music will always be considered the cooler sibling. And I guess that none of the members of Buffalo Springfield were ever known for their coolness, but they did make non-blues-based rock music a viable thing, so there’s their legacy.


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