Week 8 – Music and Political Inspiration

I chose “For What It’s Worth” (1967)

by Buffalo Springfield as my song that gives me hope for change. The song originally was about the Sunset Strip Riots in 1966 when the LAPD and the youthful counterculture were at a conflict. The youth would stay out past curfew in huge groups and were disturbing the peace so the LAPD took more than necessary force and action upon them. The song is also popularly used or portrayed as an anti-Vietnam war song. And used in films like Forrest Gump.

The value of the young countercultures protests is a big theme in this song “Young people speaking their minds, Getting so much resistance from behind” (Stills). I think this song is so broadly written that it can be applied to any time period with any protest. I feel like this song is especially relatable to the War on Guns in the US right now. “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” (Stills). This reminds me of violent protests you see in the US and other countries with big violent riots (mostly made violent by the bureaucratic forces. “A thousand people in the street, Singing songs and carrying signs” (Stills) this sounds like mostly peaceful protests that have to turn violent because the police don’t like that they are protesting in public areas. The police are “forced” to use unnecessary violence against harmless teenagers.

The lines “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” is showing if you were to fall out of line with everybody else and were to speak your mind, you would be met with resistance to your thinking and tried to be “kept in line.” The fact that some people are too afraid to protest because they are afraid of being hurt by our government even though it is our right to protest is what prevents a lot of people from speaking their mind and supporting their causes.

This song makes me feel empowered and that people not working for the government have agency. Protests have been apart of many modern issues and they always create change. This song was written in the 60s for a riot happening in that time, it could be applied to the Civil Rights Movement, the Rodney King riots, Arab Springs and so many more movements.

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