For the week of 1/28/2013…

“Mr. Soul” by Buffalo Springfield

25 years before Kurt Cobain was depressed, angry, and bitter about being a famous rock star, Neil Young was depressed, angry, and bitter about being a famous rock star.  He expressed these sentiments in two of the songs he wrote for Buffalo Springfield’s second album, Buffalo Springfield Again, released in late 1967.  One of these, an album-closing psychedelic suite called “Broken Arrow,” is a sprawling, more experimental track which features little to no playing by the other members of the band; Young’s third contribution, “Expecting to Fly,” also matches this description.  In contrast, album opener “Mr. Soul” is just a traditional guitar-band rock ‘n’ roll song — but still, it’s a damn good one.  It’s built upon a gnarlier variation on the guitar riff from “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” and features a stinging guitar solo.  While Young’s singing voice seems to be evolving a bit still, the inflection of his vocals oozes bitterness and weariness with being in the music business.

Amusingly, Young hadn’t seen anything yet when he wrote this song:  It was recorded on the same day “For What It’s Worth” was released for the first time, and therefore must have been written prior to the greater stardom achieved by the band in 1967 due to the massive popularity of that song.  Anyway, I guess his first encounters with the downsides of stardom weren’t too disillusioning; after all, he’s still recording and touring after literally 50 years in the music business with and without Buffalo Springfield, CSNY, and Crazy Horse.

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