What does For What It's Worth mean?

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Buffalo Springfield: For What It's Worth Meaning

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For What It's Worth Lyrics

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...


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    Feb 21st, 2011 2:25pm report

    Although everyone sees this as a protest song, it's actually a very thoughtful reflection on the protest era. Rather than just supporting protesters, Stills is encouraging everyone to "look around" and see what's going on -- a cry for sanity and and some self examination;

    "There's battle lines being drawn; Nobody's right if everybody's wrong"

    and ...

    "A thousand people in the street Singing songs and carrying signs Mostly say, hooray for our side"

    Obviously Stills was not happy with the police OR the rioters. He's just saying "let's be cool and do the right thing for the right reason". For that, it's one of my favorite songs.


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    Sep 9th, 2010 9:39pm report

    When Stephen first played the song to the band, he said,
    "here's something I wrote, for what it's worth." I guess his comment stuck. The inspiration was partly a reaction to the Sunset Strip riots in the mid '60's in which young people where being roughed up by the L.A. police ( "a man with a gun over there...). Due to its general call to action lyrics, it has been used in almost every movie about Vietnam and the mid '60's, appropriately or not. one of Stills best compositions.


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    Jul 13th, 2012 7:28am report

    Just want to point out that the song was written 3 years before Kent State (1966 versus 1970).

    It's often mistaken as a Vietnam protest song, but Stills wrote it originally as a reaction to the Sunset Strip riots in Los Angeles in 1966. It was a confrontation over city-imposed 10PM curfew for the neighborhood, which pitted young club goers against the local businesses and neighbors who wanted to cut back on the noise and traffic that came with the nightlife on the strip.

    Obviously with time its meaning evolved as the protest and counter culture movement heated up, but as it was originally conceived the song was about the disputed curfews.


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    Nov 2nd, 2013 11:17pm report

    Stop hey what's that sound all the mammoths are in the ground.


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    Mar 11th, 2013 3:01pm report

    It is a call to become aware. It speaks of the feedback from speaking your mind and how those who speak loudly are not able to listen to others of a different opinion.


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    Sep 3rd, 2011 9:26pm report

    I thought it was written right after the Kent State massacre, where student demonstrators were shot and killed by the National Guard.


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    May 4th, 2011 5:24pm report

    It's the sound of America swirling down the rabbit hole, drifting into a delerious state of stupidity. We are all going down. The path to hell paved with our love of violance and mistrust of eachother.


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    Aug 28th, 2009 8:03pm report

    I've heard various versions of what the song is about. Once, Stephen Stills said that it was an observance of when he lived in Panama as a kid, and saw the military there smashing a few heads. But the song sounds more like a commentary on all the demonstrations at the time.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway


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    Jun 12th, 2009 6:59pm report

    I think that this song is about someone who is noticing something bad is going around. For example in stanza 5 "Mostly say hooray for our side" means that everyon isn't willing to be in the other person's shoes or understand their side. The tone is upsetting, so is the mood, like in stanza 1: "There's a man with a gun over there, telling me to beware." That either means the person is judging him or he's telling the singer to look out for others cuz the man with the gun is a racist - Z (7th)
    I think that this song, written by Buffalo Springfield, is about being against each other. It is making me think this becasue stanza 3 it states: "nobody's right if everybody's wrong." The theme is demanding to stop their fight because it repeats stanza 2 many times. The song it titled "Fro What it's Worth" because he is saying what he thinks should happen. Also, he wants to see and hear peace wherever he goes becasue there is always someone who has to start everything and then everyone starts joining. (7th)

    CCPA Huntington Park, CA


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    Feb 10th, 2009 2:10pm report

    This song is about the problems and conflicts in the world during the 1960's, particularly the Vietnam War.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway

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