Buffy Sainte-Marie Jacques Vassal - Essay

Jacques Vassal

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[The] opening track of Buffy's first record, "Now That the Buffalo's Gone," is at the same time revealing and symbolic. She sings to the average white man and woman, pointing out to them that they may have forgotten or tried to forget the plight of the Indians. They never bothered to try to save the buffalo, and it became nearly extinct; surely it's time to help the Indian before he goes the same way.

All that concerns the Indian also concerns Buffy Sainte-Marie, and vice versa. She stated it clearly in It's My Way! (apart from "Now That the Buffalo's Gone," there is on this record a song that tears at the emotions, sung in the language of her tribe: "Mayoo Sto Hoon"); in her third album, Little Wheel, Spin and Spin, she returned to the theme with "My Country 'Tis of Thy People You're Dying," which deals with the Indians of North America and their political situation. But at the same time she realizes the absolute necessity of ensuring that her music does not remain in some kind of Indian cultural ghetto. (p. 35)

With the exceptions of Judy Collins and Odetta, though in a different way, there is no other American singer who so constantly renews her style, while yet remaining essentially the same, distinctive artist, as Buffy. (p. 36)

Jacques Vassal, "Reds," in his Electric Children: Roots and Branches of Modern Folkrock, translated and edited by Paul Barnett (translation copyright © 1976 by Paul Barnett; originally published as Folksong: Une histoire de la musique populaire aux Etats-Unis, Editions Albin Michel, 1971), Taplinger Publishing Co., Inc., 1976, pp. 31-8.∗