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*5.14-BLUEBIRD (Buffalo Springfield)

Buffalo Springfield

LISTEN

[Intro]

Listen to my bluebird laugh.
She can't tell you why.
Deep within her heart, you see,
She knows only crying,
Just crying.

There she sits, aloft at perch--
Strangest color blue.
Flying is forgotten now.
Thinks only of you,
Just you.

        So get all those blues,
        Must be a thousand hues,
        And each just differently used.
        You just know.

        You sit there mesmerized
        By the depth of her eyes
        That you can't categorize.
        She got soul.

        She got soul. (3x)

[Break]

                Do you think she knows you?
                Do you think at all?

[Break]

Soon she's going to fly away.
Sadness is her own.
Give herself a bath of tears
And go home,
And go home.

[Coda]


Buffalo Sprinfield AgainGood as the Sprinfield's debut had been, Buffalo Springfield Again was the best of the group's three albums and leaps and bounds beyond what their first album. But the singles from the album couldn’t stand the competition on the airwaves. The attempt to make a single from the album out of Mr. Soul and a truncated version (less the 2 minutes) of the jammer Bluebird didn't break into the Top 40. Rock & Roll Woman was released as a single which seems to anticipate the coming success of Crosby Stills and Nash, but it didn’t get audience attention either. And neither did the album sell well at the time.

Though Buffalo Springfield Again does not sound like a psychedelic record as a whole, two of the three songs I include here from the album are certainly among the best that the psychedelic genre has to offer. The Buffalo Springfield were better known for incorporating country music into contemporary rock than for their psychedelia. Bluebird is a rocking song with electric lead guitar exchanges, experimental song structure, and a coda featuring banjo. After a quick fuzz guitar intro, a twelve string guitar is added for color within the first verse for "crying", which is then dropped. In the second verse, the word "blue" is accented with the cry of a steel guitar. The B section moves forward furiously on a fuzztone riff but in the transition to the C section, the fuzz shares a dialogue with a crisp picked electric guitar that slows down the beat. With high harmonies, the C section seems to float airily into improvisation. In longer live versions of Bluebird, this section was extended into a frenzied jam, but the studio version wisely found a more satisfactory conclusion in the banjo coda played by studio musician Charlie Chin. Tuned to D modal, "Mountain Minor", the banjo music in conversation with a picked acoustic guitar evokes a rural American landscape. Psychedelic music before this didn't carry much of a message of getting back to nature, but Bluebird did. As time progressed the theme of "getting back to nature" would become the new desire of hippies, and it would to a large degree replace the earlier romance about childhood innocence.

The lyrics suggest an LSD meditation, probably about a woman. The bluebird represents another of the many hues of "blue", one in which the bird "laughs" but does not sing, and her laughter hides tears. Captured by a memory the bluebird forgets to fly for a moment and seems to be perched outside the singer's door. The B section focuses on the excited reaction of the poet upon seeing the bird closely, being able to look into her eyes and see "soul" there, a spiritual essence shared with the singer himself. This is a vision and the song drifts to the epiphany of the C section, where the utter "unknowing" of the nature of that other soul mocks him. What is the poet to the bird? Anything at all? And what can be known of the bird? Anything at all? The poet imagines when the bird flies away that it will go home to a rural mountain region, where mysteriously, her own tears will bathe her, wash her clean. Why is she crying? She is crying for the tragic side of comedy, and laughing for the comic side of tragedy.

Bluebird compares well with Blackbird by Paul McCartney, released about a year later. However, Blackbird is not written in psychedelic fashion, being more of a metaphor than an object of contemplation.


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