Buffalo Mother

by Sara Riley Mattson

supported by
Christa Upton
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Christa Upton I just love this song. There is something about it that reaches my soul, carries it along. It is catchy and earthy, deep and lovely. If you buy ONE song on Bandcamp this year, buy this one!!!!


While in South Dakota I spent a lot of time watching the buffalo in Custer State Park. There is something about them that is almost magical. They have kind eyes and a calm nature and, as they are so large, there is a sense of humility I feel every time I am near them.

While there I read an amazing book by Dan O'Brien which talked about what a healing effect the buffalo have on the land. Just by the way they walk and eat, they encourage the land to be more balanced. As a result, many wild, native species return to the land and thrive.

I couldn't help but feel that this could be a tremendous metaphor for how to live best in my own life. As someone who has struggled for many years with illness, I can get lost in feelings of shame that I'm not producing more or earning more. When I thought of the many people I knew in a similar circumstance with their health, however, I never viewed their path through life as less meaningful because they weren't rich or successful. Instead, I felt a great sense of admiration and inspiration just by watching them be them...by watching them fight to keep having the best lives they could have every day.

When I sat down to write Buffalo Mother I wanted to make it a "strut" pace. I wanted to be able to listen to it while walking and imagine the way the buffalo lived becoming the way I lived. I wanted the buffalo to be clearly the teacher and I am the student. Using the words 'mother' and 'father' seemed the most poetic way to express that...our first teachers.

It is not a sad song about the buffalo and their many losses. Instead, as my friend said when I sent him the song, it is a song asking the bison to teach me how to live.


Buffalo mother, I need you tonight
See the world through your eyes
You humble me
Humble me

Buffalo father tell me it's alright
I've been wandering so long
I forgot I could never be lost

Walking on and on
Bruised and blistered toward the dawn
I've wandered for so long
I forgot I could never be lost

Buffalo mother the land is a song
To the beat of your walk
The man sings the harmony

Buffalo father, the melody plays
On the backs of your children
Breathing life to the lost

Memories fall softly today
Never could contain us anyway
Memories fall softly today
Never could contain us anyway


released April 16, 2016



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Sara Riley Mattson Rapid City, South Dakota

I'm a lifelong musician. The daughter of a deep-thinking poet and a harmony-obsessed choral singer. I grew up on the music my parents grew up on...Beach Boys, Beatles, Carole King, Paul Simon, Emmylou Harris, The Everly Brothers, and The Temptations. When you mix that with my classical piano and choral training I think you can hear where my style comes from. I like things that are fun and hard. ... more

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