|Single by Buffalo Springfield|
|from the album Buffalo Springfield Again|
January 9, 1967 (original version)|
April 4, 1967 (album version with vocals used from the original version)
|Studio||Atlantic, New York City|
|Buffalo Springfield singles chronology|
"Mr. Soul" is about Neil Young's personal problems with fame and disregard towards rock stardom. It was written by Young after experiencing an epilepsy attack after an early show with Buffalo Springfield in San Francisco. Many people in the audience were questioning if it was part of the act. While being a patient at UCLA Medical Center's neuropsychiatry branch, he wrote the song once he was awake and recovering and told to return for further tests. The lyrics had reflected Young's experience, feeling as though he was about to die. Thereupon, he was advised by his doctor to never take LSD or any other hallucinogenic drugs.
Composed on an acoustic twelve-string guitar, the dark and moody song is in double drop D tuning, which Young used in a number of other songs, such as "Ohio" and "Cinnamon Girl". On the third track of Sugar Mountain - Live at Canterbury House 1968, Young stated that, "A lot of songs take a long time to write. Generally they take an hour and a half, two hours to write. But this one took only five minutes". Young subsequently recorded several other versions of the song, often with marked stylistic changes. The song has been described by music writers as folk rock,psychedelic rock, and hard rock.
The song was re-recorded by Young in a synthrock style on his 1982 album Trans, with vocals processed with a vocoder. In addition to this, the song also appears on Young's 1993 Unplugged, Sugar Mountain - Live At Canterbury House 1968 and 1997 Year of the Horse with Crazy Horse, and an alternate take appears on the Buffalo Springfield box set. In 2004, Rush covered the song on their cover EP of songs from the 1960s, Feedback. The song has also been recorded by the Everly Brothers in December 1968, but was not released until 1984 on their studio album Nice Guys. Other notable cover versions include variations by Diesel Park West, Widespread Panic, the Bluetones and the Icicle Works. The song was also covered by Bongwater on the 1989 tribute album The Bridge: A Tribute to Neil Young.