Neil Young Paul Williams - Essay

Paul Williams

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Buffalo Springfield … is a lovely, moving experience. You have to be into it, however; chances are you won't even like it on first hearing. All the songs seem to sound alike…. There are certain samenesses in the Springfield's material, and if you hear them on one of their rare off nights, you'll be quite bored. But what the Springfield does is rise above these samenesses, employing beautiful changes and continually fresh approaches within their particular framework. The more you listen to this album and become familiar with it, the more you'll see in each song. (pp. 47-8)

But the album, despite it all, is beautiful. Every track on it will entrance you, at one time or another. "Clancy" will probably be first—both melody and lyric hit very hard, and once the rhythm changes and the phrasing sink in, you're done for. The objectivity of the song is heartbreaking: "Who should be sleeping that's writing this song/Wishin' and a-hopin' he weren't so damn wrong?" Straightforwardness—with a sort of implied understatement—is characteristic of the Springfield. (p. 48)

"Flying on the Ground" is the song that knocks me out the most just now. It's an unassuming little love song that walks all around the edges of rock's oldest clichés and comes away quietly fresh. (p. 49)

[Neil is a talented songwriter] quite apart from writing for a specific group—[his] songs would surely be recorded, though not the same way, if there were no Buffalo S…. [Neil is] capable of unusually clever lyrics, song structures and changes that work well, and light, effective melodies. (p. 50)

Paul Williams, "Bleshing: Buffalo Springfield" (originally published under a different title, in Crawdaddy, March, 1967), in his Outlaw Blues (copyright © 1969 by Paul Williams; reprinted here by permission of the author), E. P. Dutton & Co., Inc., 1969, pp. 41-57.

Neil Young is fresh in the biz as a folk soloist…. His style marks a new Canadian approach also employed by Ontarian David Rea and others. Mannerisms show influence from Bob Dylan's surrealistic period, circa "Highway 61 Revisited." However, the strong feel for the country remains a binding factor between the "new" and "old" schools.

"Another Wave of Pop Style Setters Begins Streaming Down from Canada," in Variety (copyright 1969, by Variety, Inc.), May 28, 1969, p. 59.