Tony-winning performer Billy Porter belted out Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth” accompanied by its songwriter Stephen Sills, at the end of Day 1 of history’s first Virtual Democratic National Convention, shortly after Michelle Obama’s keynote address.
“Billy and I were first talking about this on the day that George Floyd died,” Sills told Variety. “He was throwing furniture around in his apartment, he was so angry.”
As Variety’s Jem Aswad points out: While the song was first inspired by the November 1966 riots on Sunset Strip in Hollywood — which started when police began enforcing a decades-old 10 p.m. curfew for people under the age of 18 — it quickly became an anthem for the counterculture in the late 1960s and beyond.
The song’s two catchiest phrases:
There’s something happening here
But what it is ain’t exactly clear
We better stop
Hey, what’s that sound?
Everybody look what’s going down
“This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.” – Toni Morrison @intoactionus #IntoAction pic.twitter.com/7duj0p0GwI
— Billy Porter (@theebillyporter) August 7, 2020