Mr. Soul-Buffalo Springfield

The power of “rock” music can be seen in this video. Let me say for one moment that any sentence that talks about the power of “rock” renders the purveyor a cobag. Usually. But because of this video there is amnesty. The song is g** d***** teh sh*t. The total nonsensical nature of the lyrics paired with the insistence of the concrete and menacing rythym, with Neil Young in scary hitchhiker mode versus plaintive strumming mode on vocals, this song is an all time classic.

Case in point: in this performance, note the incredible cheesewad-ness of the host, Capt. Squaresville. Then the band starts in with their mild-mannered protest song “For What It’s Worth”, Stephen Stills nattily attired, seems almost quaint, almost too squeaky clean, another somnolent evenng on a show where Pat Boone probably performed the night before while Jim Morrison peed on some groupies at the Whiskey across town. A little while in, Neil comes to the front as if they unlocked the monster from the crypt, in full Pocahantas garb, looking like the lost Mountain Man just out of the psych-ward Summer theatre production of Jeremiah Johnson.

Then as if the flick of a switch, everything is different. The band starts into Mr. Soul. Stills becomes the prom king/hatted hustler who women would clamor over being scammed by- and he’s the sideman now. Neil Young man-child mountain guy, no possibility of being dorkier, just unloads. For goodness sake, all the parts here are complete munchwagon- I mean the drummer is one of those Keno boys from Antiques Roadshow, probably was still living with his moms back then, and now still. The sum of the parts is an undeniable classic. With no irony whatsoever, these boys are heroes if only for two or so minutes. And that doesn’t happen with just any bullsh*t. Perhaps this song was absolutely massacred/played to death back in the day, but I’d take this one over a lot of other tired classics, which of course the kids don’t know or care about anyway. I give you the nice little rock fossil Mr. Soul.

11 Responses to “Mr. Soul-Buffalo Springfield”

  • I have to admit, my husband is a huge Neil Young fan and I never got it until I heard this song-like Bob Dylan, I respected his ability, sure, but I just didn’t like his singing. However this song rocks harder than the Hope Diamond, and the lyrics are fantastic-who else can put the word “plaster” in and have it work?

  • EXACTLY. I really think Steven Stills either just ate someone’s liver or left someone at the altar after having emptied their bank account. He reminds me of the Brad Pitt character in “Thelma and Louise”

  • Maybe he ate David Crosby’s liver. Crosby got a new one not too long ago.

    Maybe the greatest live musical moment I ever saw was when Neil was a surprise guest during a Springsteen/REM MoveOn concert (shortly before the Election of Doom). After a cover of “All Along the Watchtower” that I thought couldn’t be topped, he launched into an extended “Rockin’ in the Free World” that left Bruce and Michael Stipe just standing there, watching and shaking their heads.

    Ah the good old days. When I still had hope.

  • See the cynical oh so cool Mr. Soul just says f*** off to everyone while the “Rocking int he Free World” wears its heart on its sleeve, so the coolios act all embarrassed and then Bush ends up president, because someone didn’t like Al Gore’s jeans. Sigh. The road to hell is paved by people afraid to be sincere. Hence Mr. Soul trumps RITFW, but not with the approval of the angels.

  • I don’t know that I agree with you, PP. I think the song tells us that seeing fame as a marker of worth and allowing it to change one’s inner self will only end in destruction of the self. At least that’s the way I always took it.

  • That’s what it might really mean, but what I mean is that the presentation is not like Celine singing “BE TRUE TO YOURSELF! LET’S HUG!” It’s opacity and craftiness render it more implied than in your face a la Rocking in the Free World. I think that’s what I was trying to say. Becuase in Mr. Soul, it’s abotu not changing but from what is unclear- he could be saying stay “a serial killer”, or be true to your inner arsonist, right?

  • It’s autobiographical, so he’s telling listeners to be true to their inner Neil, and to therefore keep on rocking in the free world because it’s better to burn out than fade away. Or something.

  • I don’t know, when I saw him play it I think it meant Bush is a wanker.

  • Trans baby, Trans!

    Actually, I like Buffalo Springfield.
    Even the Steven Stills stuff.
    Though I do get annoyed that whenever a lame-ass film director feels the need to set a “’60’s sort of vibe, man”, they pull out For What Its Worth. However, I suppose this is redeemed by my vague memory of the Muppets singing along to it once.

    Anyhow, back to Neil – Burned is a great song, Out of My Mind and Broken Arrow are oddly affecting too. As are his first couple albums (particularly Everybody Knows this is Nowhere). Then he starts to meander into lame territory a bit – fucking Sugar Mountain, This Songs for You, that odd ’50’s album that no one bought, and Trans for example – but always ambles back and makes something decent when you least expect it.

    Killer sideburns too.

    If Neil Young didn’t exist man would have to invent him.

  • Also note Mr. Soul’s similarity to Satisfaction.

  • I have always felt there was a certain driving affinity between the two songs, but for some reason I have a different feeling about Mr. Soul, I think the Neilness obliterates any relationship. I would say Mr. Soul comes off as more committed even with the Robby Krieger-esque jammy bit.

    I need to investigate like a million of those albums. That or forclose on garage de shingles.

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