The Buffalo Tapes: Music Review

What exactly makes a friend...a friend?
And what do you do if your friends aren't really friends?

Song: The Buffalo Tapes (My So-Called Friends)
Artist: Espen Lind
Year: 1997
Nationality: Norwegian

friendship, acceptable, self-perception

What's it about?
This is a young man reflecting on his life so far. In some parts of the song he refers to his father and the simpler times in his life as a child going fishing with him. Further into the song he questions about the people he thought were his friends but treated him poorly. All the time he is wondering why life is the way it is and how he can find his own place.

  • This song has a lot of emotion in the delivery. 
  • It is not a "I'll tell you directly what happened" song, a lot is left to the listener to interpret based on their own life experiences.

  • This is a rather slow song. Lines such as "...high as a kite..." may be interpreted by students in different ways including a literal interpretation of drug use.

This was the second song I heard Espen Lind sing and admittedly it struck a chord. This song is touches on the topic of being accepted by peers and the way in which they treat each other - sometimes rather badly. Anyone who has ever been betrayed by a "friend" can relate to the lyrics of the song. 

What are the "Buffalo Tapes"? I have always viewed it as a either an audio diary or a written form. To me it is the way in which the narrator has tried to work through everything to try and make sense out of situations that will most likely never make any sense. 

For me at least, the two lyrics that carry a lot of weight are these..
Give me three if my cool friends are asking for me
Tell them I have gone fishing
And that no one knows where
'Cos daddy they hate me when I am not there

They sent invitations they hated my stay
They're shooting my wings while I'm flying away

For me, these lyrics are all about those "friends" we think we have as teenagers (and even as young adults) who may smile to our face but turn around and be nasty about us behind ours backs. The verse though is more than that as the narrator is breaking free from that cycle of false friends. He is removing himself from their company to find himself.

Some people might think this song is too dark to use in the classroom. I disagree. We can paint a perfect life of being a teenager. Our students see, hear and listen to far too much contrived "real life" on TV in particular. This song allows students to see that other might just feel the same as they do. And the fact that the narrator breaks free to find his own path I feel gives hope. Sometimes the students who suffer with the feelings described in this song as the ones you don't notice as a teacher. They are the quiet student who does ok at school. They are the ones who become invisible because they don't need assistance academically and aren't a behaviour problem. 

Remember that my thoughts on the song as based on my own experiences and how I relate to the school. This is the type of song that you could use to look at interpretation, meaning and inference in writing lessons. I would also consider art activities based on the mood of the song. Use this song to have your students express themselves and their feelings about friendship - I feel that would be a very eye opening experience.

Lyrics (c) Espen Lind/Universal Music

1 comment

  1. You must see the film 'Victor or Victoria'. Julie Andrews sang 'The buffalo tapes (so called friends)' original song in 1969. lying in a bed. I hope you like it.