Following Michelle Obama is not any simple activity, however the duo of Billy Porter and Stephen Stills stepped up with a digital efficiency of “For What It’s Price” throughout the opening night time of the 2020 Democratic Nationwide Conference.
Whereas Stills first wrote and sang the tune — which is probably higher identified by its subtitle, “Cease, Hey, What’s That Sound?” — as a member of Buffalo Springfield in 1967, it has turn out to be a generation-spanning protest anthem for occasions when the world appears significantly upside-down, for political causes and in any other case. Between the Trump presidency, coronavirus and Black Lives Matter, there have been loads of potential makes use of for the tune in latest months, and Porter lined it earlier this 12 months.
“Billy did such an amazing cowl of the tune and I used to be [originally] going to sing with him on this one for the DNC,” Stills tells Selection of Monday night time’s efficiency (which was pre-recorded). “However then I made a decision ‘Nah, it’s Billy’s report, so let him fly with it. And in addition, my wifi is unreliable,” he provides with amusing, “so I performed guitar and sang alongside.”
Extra severely, he continues, “Billy and I have been first speaking about this on the day that George Floyd died — he was throwing furnishings round in his condominium, he was so indignant.”
Whereas the tune was first impressed by the November 1966 riots on Sundown Strip in Hollywood — which began when police started implementing a decades-old 10 p.m. curfew for individuals beneath the age of 18 — it shortly grew to become an anthem for the counterculture within the late 1960s and past.
“Like a number of social commentary, it was fairly spontaneous,” Stills, who was 21 when he wrote the tune, remembers. “I used to be coming over Laurel Canyon and I noticed this [demonstration], and an entire bunch of dots linked for me, as to how a lot resistance there was to the struggle and different issues. Sam Yorty, the mayor [of Los Angeles at the time], was afraid it was an anti-war riot, and he despatched within the police in full battle array, and I simply reacted to it. The tune took about as lengthy to jot down because it did to really sit down and write it out, as a result of I had one thing effervescent anyway.
“It kinda needed to be [spontaneous],” he continues, “as a result of should you attempt too laborious it turns into pontificating, y’know? That’s why I’m cautious to not put greater than a few protest songs on my albums — I’ve by no means appreciated that time period, by the best way, as a result of then you find yourself writing, like, op-eds to limericks, and it turns into hackneyed. You’ve gotta wait till one thing actually strikes you.”
In accordance with legend, the tune’s title happened after Stills introduced the tune to the band and Atlantic Data cofounder Ahmet Ertegun somewhat dismissively, saying, “Right here’s a brand new tune, for what it’s price,” however Stills says he “can’t verify that narrative.”
Whereas he says he at all times felt strongly concerning the tune, he didn’t notice how particular it was “till we recorded it they usually determined to take one in all my different songs off the album and substitute it with that one” — after the tune was recorded, Atlantic shortly re-released Buffalo Springfield’s debut album to incorporate it — and he provides with amusing, “then everyone within the room needed a chunk of the publishing!”
Requested how the political local weather as we speak compares to the one which impressed the tune, Stills says, “The swamp is simply as deep and the lying and hipocrisy is just too — though there’s much more on the road now.
“I feel this election has actually introduced everyone to the social gathering,” he concludes, “and I’m glad to see it.”