Broken Arrow

Album: Buffalo Springfield Again (1967)

Songfacts®:

  • Neil Young wrote this after breaking up with the group because of what he called "An identity crisis." He quickly returned to the band and recorded this song. In a Rolling Stone interview about what broke up Buffalo Springfield; Young said, "I was going crazy, you know, joining and quitting and joining again. I began to feel like I didn't have to answer or obey anyone. I needed more space." Meanwhile, his Buffalo Springfield bandmate Stephen Stills concurs, saying in part: "We were of the age where you can very easily get the diva syndrome before you've sold any records or anything and all that stuff, and there was a little of that. And it was so laden with talent, this bunch, that we just hit the track going too fast that we went into the wall with no skid marks. It was just... we spun out. But we spun out because we didn't realize how hot the car was."
  • This track took over 100 hours to record, which was an eternity by 1967 standards. "Broken Arrow" sometimes draws raised eyebrows for being so oddly arranged - rather like the Beatles' psychedelic period such as "Revolution 9." Perhaps it is this song which longtime Young collaborator David Briggs had in mind when he said, "When you make rock and roll, the more you think, the more you stink."
  • Dewey Martin, who was Buffalo Springfield's drummer, sang the first verse of Mr. Soul in this tune. The track was produced by Jack Nitzsche, and the jazzy piano solo at the end is by Don Randi. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Steve - Los Angeles, CA
  • Of "Broken Arrow," Peter Frampton had this to say: "Ever since the Buffalo Springfield, 'Broken Arrow' - I think that's the one that did it for me, that just put him at the top of my list as one of my favorites. And to have him and Stephen Stills in the same band, 'cause I love both of them, was incredible. But Neil is just an amazing performer as well as, obviously, the amazing songs he's written. I'm a big fan."
  • In 1996, Young released an album titled Broken Arrow.

Comments: 12

  • Tim from Kalamazoo, Mi.Reading Mike's (from Park Ridge) comment about the "heartbeat" at the end of the song made me smile. I have my own little "heartbeat" story.

    I was only 3 y/o when this song came out, but within a few years I had mastered my dad's Wollensak reel-to-reel tape recorder. He had the "Retrospective" album as reel-to-reel, and I loved that album - I didn't know about the individual albums for another 8-10 years! Anyway, back in the day (I was about 10 years old), the only way I knew how to record was on my little cassette deck using its portable microphone. And, I used to record a lot of things that way.

    Since my parents had divorced years before, I decided I needed that Retrospective album for myself, so on my next visit with my Dad I started recording it. And it turned out really well, all things considered. But the funniest thing happened, and I DID NOT KNOW it until quite a few years later. At the end of Broken Arrow, as the heartbeat started to "fade out", an AIRPLANE flew OVERHEAD, and it FIT IN PERFECTLY to the song, a sort of "thump-thump, thump-thump, thum...-ZOOOOOOOoooooommm----- ... fade out, and it ended JUST IN TIME before the next song (might have been Rock and Roll Woman) started up!! I listened to that little cassette for a long time, and it was only when I was about 17-18 when I bought a well-used "Again" album that I heard the "real thing" again, and REALIZED THERE WAS NO AIRPLANE "ZOOM"!! More than once I wondered what Neil would have thought about my little "addition"!!
  • Dave from Vancouver, WaI was listening to this song and it reminded me of The Beatles, "A day in the life." They were both written in 1967. Did one influence the other?
  • Mike from Park Ridge , IlWhat was with the heartbeat sound at the end?
  • Melissa from Fairborn, OhThis is one of my favorite Buffalo Springfield song which is mostly acoustic on this song, Also, my favorite part of the song I like the most is when I like the jazz touch before the song ends. Yes it's good to waltz to this acoustic/jazz Buffalo Springfield song, hmmm.
  • Valerie from Eureka, CaHey Max in Parma Ohio....Yes, this song, Down Down Down is on youtube and is VERY MUCH like Broken Arrow...cool song!!!!! Pioneers were the musicians from the 60's...Down is like a waltz as is Arrow...thanks for mentioning Down, Max.
  • Valerie from Eureka, CaNEIL YOUNG!!! He is, in my opinion, a genius! Broken Arrow as all of his songs, is steeped in so much introverted meanings...or so they all seem to be anyway.
  • Ted from Phoenix, AzThis is a great song with some very trippy lyrics with obscure meanings. My favorite lines come at the end of the second verse when Neil Young sings: "His mother had said that a trip was a fall And don't mention babies at all.", which i believe is a reference to teenage sexuality.
  • Baz from Johnson, VtGreat tune. Though i've always wondered if the US military borrowed the terms Broken Arrow and Empty Quiver for nuclear weapons "incidents" from this song; of course if you're thinking (as Neil and whoever at DoD was making up code names)in that vein it's just as likely to be a coincidence.
  • Max from Parma, OhThere's another tune by Buffalo Springfield called "Down Down Down" that has the same melody. Apparently, it was never released on an album in the 1960's, but the Buffalo Springfield boxed set has two different versions of it, demo and remix. I'm not sure if the song has any relations to Broken Arrow, except for a few lyrics and the melody. The first stanza is, "Come to see her in the river/ she'll be there to wave to you/ In the hope that you'll forgive her/ She will join you there."
  • Melissa from Fairborn, OhI love the jazz-like part especially at the end of the song.
  • Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, ScI just looked at the lyrics, and this song definitely seems like one Neil Young would write.
  • Steve from New York City, NyThis song is a medley. It first starts out with a (seemingly) live version of the Buffalo Springfield song "Mr. Soul" (written by Neil Young). Then it goes into Broken Arrow, "The lights turned on and the curtain fell down...". After this, a jazz quartet plays what sounds like a "jazzified" version of the Broken Arrow melody, complete with piano solo. Finally, it ends with a heartbeat sound (similar to that of "Eclipse" by Pink Floyd five years later).
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