The Buffalo Springfield Song Written By A Radio Contest Winner
All beautiful songs have a different story that has inspired their melodies or lyrics. Some of them came out of long jam sessions among band members, some were the product of muses who stopped by while the musicians were just walking in the woods, and others were the result of long struggles as their notes and lyrics were written and rewritten until they became the best fit.
However, a song by Buffalo Springfield has a rather peculiar origin story, as a radio station held a competition to determine the winner whose poem would be used in one of the album’s songs. While the band’s third and last album, ‘Last Time Around,’ was being prepared, some band members had already left. Thus, the album would combine previous recordings and use another source: a competition.
In 1967, a lyrics competition was held through KHJ, an LA-based radio station. Participants were asked to write poems to be composed later, and the winner would be awarded $1000 plus publishing royalties. Micki Callen was the winner of the competition, and her poem ‘The Hour of Not Quite Rain’ was chosen to be used in this album.
Of course, for Micki Callen, it would be a dream come true to see her writing featured on the album of one of the biggest rock bands of the time. Thus, when the unexpected opportunity arose, she wrote her poem and became the winner out of 15,000 entries. However, the songwriting process was not as smooth and exciting for the producers and band members.
As the Buffalo Springfield members had had a turbulent career ever since the band’s initiation, it was kind of naive to expect them to volunteer to compose and play this song together. The best writers for Buffalo Springfield, Stephen Stills and Neil Young, declined to contribute; and Richie Furay took on the assignment.
Buffalo Springfield was on the verge of disbandment at that time; in fact, some band members had already left. Thus, there was only one song out of 12 that the members played together for this album, and it was ‘On The Way Home.’ The members refused to come together to the extent that the producers could only unite them for the album’s cover using montage.
However, this bizarre tale of production did not prevent the album from being well-received. It was not recorded using conventional methods, but it was later described in Rolling Stone as ‘a final testament to [Buffalo Springfield members’] multi-talent.’ Even though the band members never played the songs from this album together, they continued playing their favorites on separate stages.