Billy Porter has released a stunning new cover of Stephen Stills’ 1966 track “For What It’s Worth”.
Porter said of the track, which was released to encourage voter registration ahead of the U.S. presidential election: “I’ve always been a political artist.”
“I came of age as an artist during the AIDS crisis and I’ve always used my voice in that way. So looking forward, I knew it was an election year and I wanted to find material that would speak to that process.”
The song was originally inspired by a Sunset Strip protest over a club curfew.
Stills, who recorded the track with Buffalo Springfield, added, according to Rolling Stone: “As the lyrics tumbled out, I quickly realized that my little song spoke to much more than simply a confrontation between a gathering of young people paying a last visit to a favourite music bar about to be demolished and a rather excessive number of LAPD riot police intent on dispersing the overflow crowd that had spilled into the street.”
“I purposefully resisted the urge to rewrite or expand upon my theme and let the metaphors speak for themselves. Fortunately, succeeding generations have found something in it that touches them personally or alludes to their own sense of foreboding during tumultuous times.”
Porter, who was born two years after the song’s release, said of already being familiar with it: “That song is ubiquitous. It’s in every [Vietnam] war movie ever made. It’s everywhere. Back then, protest music was a thing, so it seemed perfect.”
“I looked at the lyrics and they reminded me very much of our news cycle,” he went on. “In the sense that it puts what’s happening right out in front.”
Porter continued, “It’s our call to action, and I hope people are inspired and remember to vote. It’s our duty.”