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"For What It's Worth" is a song written by Stephen Stills. It was performed by Buffalo Springfield, recorded on December 5, 1966, and released as a single in January 1967; it was later added to the re-release of their first album, Buffalo Springfield. The single peaked at number seven on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. This song is currently ranked #63 on Rolling Stone's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time as well as the eighth best song of 1967 by Acclaimed Music.
The song was inspired by an event at the dawn of the psychedelic era in November 1966, the year during which Buffalo Springfield started playing as the house band at the Whisky a Go Go on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. According to the Los Angeles Times, annoyed residents and business owners in the district had encouraged the passage of strict (10:00 p.m.) curfew and loitering laws to reduce the traffic congestion resulting from crowds of young club patrons. This was subsequently perceived by young, local rock and roll music fans as an infringement on their civil rights, and on Saturday, November 12, 1966, fliers were distributed along the Strip inviting people to demonstrate later that day.
Hours before the protest one of L.A's rock 'n' roll radio stations announced there would be a rally at Pandora's Box, a club at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Crescent Heights, and cautioned people to tread carefully. The Times reported that as many as 1,000 youthful demonstrators, including such celebrities as Jack Nicholson and Peter Fonda (who was afterward handcuffed by police), erupted in protest against the perceived repressive enforcement of these recently invoked curfew laws.
Though often mistaken for an anti-war song, it was this first of the "Sunset Strip riots" which inspired then Buffalo Springfield band member Stephen Stills to write "For What It’s Worth", recorded about three weeks after on December 5, 1966.
The song quickly became a well-known protest song. While it has come to symbolize worldwide turbulence and confrontational feelings arising from events during the 1960s (particularly the Vietnam War), Stills recounts writing the song in reaction to escalating unrest between law enforcement and young club-goers on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles County, California. The song's title appears nowhere in its lyrics; it is more easily remembered by the first line of chorus: "Stop, children, what's that sound?"
Stills said in an interview that the name of the song came about when he presented it to the record company executive Ahmet Ertegun who signed Buffalo Springfield to the Atlantic Records-owned ATCO label. He said: "I have this song here, for what it's worth, if you want it." Another producer, Charlie Greene, claims that Stills first said the above sentence to him, but credits Ahmet Ertegun with subtitling the single "Stop, Hey What's That Sound" so that the song would be more easily recognized.
In 2006, when interviewed on Tom Kent's radio show "Into the '70s", Stephen Stills pointed out that many people think "For What It's Worth" is about the Kent State Shootings (1970), despite predating that event by over three years. Neil Young, Stills' bandmate in both Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, would later write Ohio, which really is about Kent State.
The song was played (without Neil Young's presence) at Buffalo Springfield's induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Cover versions 
- In 1969, the song was covered by American singer-actress Cher on her album 3614 Jackson Highway.
- In 1996, Nathan Morris of Boyz II Men sampled the song on his single entitled "Wishes" for the Touchstone Pictures film Kazaam starring NBA Star Shaquille O'Neal.
- The track appears as part of the soundtrack for the 2005 film Lord of War, the 2008 film Tropic Thunder, and the 1994 film Forrest Gump as well as numerous others, mostly involving the Vietnam War or war in general. It also plays over the end credits of The West Wing episode entitled "Isaac and Ishmael".
- This song has also been covered by experimental rock bands The Pop Culture Suicides and TV Toy and a Psychedelic band by the name of "Art" on their 1967 album Supernatural Fairy Tales. The version by Art was also released as a single in the U.K.
- The Litter, a Minneapolis, Minnesota based heavy-psych band covered this song on their 1969 album "Emerge" (ABC Probe records).
- The song is sampled on the song "He Got Game" by the hip-hop group Public Enemy for the film of the same name. The track also features Stephen Stills singing the chorus.
- Robert Plant (later to become the vocalist of rock group Led Zeppelin) recorded the song with his Band of Joy in 1968.
- Led Zeppelin often performed excerpts from the song during 1969-71, usually following their song "Whole Lotta Love" as part of an extended "covers" medley.
- The song is also sampled on the song "Kitty Kat Max" from the 1998 album Freelance Bubbblehead by the group 1000 Clowns. The song was part of the Radio Disney music playlist for a time. Of note is that the familiar acoustic guitar single string hook is isolated several times in the track.
- Rush performed a cover of the song on their Feedback album.
- Ozzy Osbourne covered the song for his 2005 tribute album Under Cover.
- Queensrÿche covered the song on their 2007 tribute album Take Cover.
- The song is covered in Keb' Mo's album, Peace... Back by Popular Demand.
- TobyMac used the lyrics and music in his song "What's goin down" on his Momentum album.
- British dance band Oui 3 adapted this song for their 1993 album Oui Love You.
- Dave Matthews Band often plays portions of the song live, as an extension to "Jimi Thing". They did so on their live album The Central Park Concert.
- Keller Williams included a cover of the song on his album Stage.
- Crystal Bowersox covered the song on her CD Farmer's Daughter.
- Rise Against performed a cover of the song for an AOL undercover session.
- The Candyskins covered the song on their debut album Space I'm In.
- Aloe Blacc Sampled the song in Loving_You_Is_Killing_Me.
- Aynsley Dunbar on his album Mutiny (2008)
- American rapcore band (həd) p.e. released a remake of the song (entitled "Children") on their 6th studio album, Insomnia
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