Neil Young & Crazy Horse's new album "COLORADO" is now available for pre-order. Order here
(Please shop locally & independently. But if you can't, we appreciate your supporting Thrasher's Wheat by clicking this link . Thank you!!!)
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Sunday, October 20, 2019

The Difference in Greatness: Bruce Springsteen or Neil Young?


bruce-springsteen-electric-open.jpg neil_young_oldblack_flannel_hat
Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young
"You know, the difference between the greatness of Bruce Springsteen and that of Neil Young as someone once explained to me back in college: Bruce makes you think you, too, can be as great as he is; Neil makes you think he is really no better than you are to begin with. Remember that."
Dr. Eric Alterman - Altercation

In a 2019 interview with Nils Lofgren in "Nils Lofgren on Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen: ‘They both like ragged rock ‘n’ roll’" | LA Times by Randy Lewis, Nils was asked to compare his years with Neil and Bruce and Crazy Horse and E Street Band:
There are a great many similarities between Neil and Bruce.

The only real differences are the tone in their guitars and their voices. Both want things to be immediate and emotional, not over-rehearsed. They don’t micromanage. They both like ragged, emotional rock ‘n’ roll. I guess when you look at things like “Tonight’s the Night,” Neil might let things get a little more ragged. But in both bands I’m given enormous latitude to play what I feel.
Nils Lofgren w/ Bruce Springsteen & E Street Band and w/ Neil Young & Crazy Horse

And both Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young have films scheduled for release in 2019. Bruce's film is titled "Western Stars" while Neil's film is "Mountaintop" to support the album "Colorado".

Bruce Springsteen's "Western Stars"

Neil Young's "Mountaintop"

Back in 2006, we did a rather extensive look at the whole Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young mythologies in the posting Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young: The Difference in Greatness.

Our regular readers know we're always up for a spirited debate on the relative merits of our respective musical heroes. And of course -- as we always predispose -- it's not a competition and there are no winners and losers. Only players.

Now that said, here's a poll with the very simple question: "Bruce Springsteen or Neil Young?" over on Steve Hoffman Music Forums, an audiophile forum where we've found the folks to be highly musically knowledgeable and technically savvy. So FWIW, here's the data:

But it's really about folks thoughts behind the votes that are interesting. In the pro-Neil camp Poll: Bruce Springsteen or Neil Young | Page 5 | Steve Hoffman Music Forums by Heart of Gold:
Well, Bruce is a great artist and a great guy too. Bruce has this attitude of crowd pleaser. Neil has probably more artistry than Bruce. Neil seems less conditioned by the fame and money than Bruce. Neil, at a certain point of his career, chose the ditch. I hardly could think now about a concert of Harvest or After Gold Rush songs. Bruce plays for the stadium masses and can play the entire Darkness, BITUSA albums for the fans. Neil plays for himself according to his actual vision. Bruce plays 150 songs, Neil his preferred 15 for that tour.

I think that recording contracts of 70,000,000 dollars or playing in the stadiums have a price on your artistic freedom. Neil "plays" in a smaller scale.

Finally, Bruce wants to be great. I don't know, but he has 15 people playing with him. Neil plays solo or with 3-4 people. Often the Boss productions are overblown. Bruce "butchered" his old Darkness outtakes with new overdubs for his Promise album, Neil just edited a couple of songs for his Archives.

Both great artists, but I love more Neil. It's challenging to be a Neil fan.
Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young
Vote For Change tour 2004 (with Mike Mills on bass)
Photo by Danny Clinch

In the pro-Bruce camp Poll: Bruce Springsteen or Neil Young | Steve Hoffman Music Forums by chervokas:
Both are brilliant artists. But I much prefer Springsteen's music. I find I rarely listen to Young, but I often listen to Springsteen. Springteen has continued to do great work late in life. I don't think Young's recent work has been anywhere close to the caliber of his earlier work or of Springsteen's later work, so much so that I mostly stopped keeping up with Young after Mirror Ball -- I did hear his last few albums and didn't like them much at all; I though the songwriting on Psychedelic Pill was weak; Americana while it sounded like an interesting idea for an album didn't make for very good listening, Le Noise was just bad and underbaked. By contrast I think some latter day Springsteen, like Magic and Wrecking Ball, were excellent albums. So, I could make the argument that Springsteen's better because he's remained more consistent and more consistently good throughout his career. But of course Young's more prolific and more of an experimenter which is one of the things that's great about him although it's a quality that I think has produced spotty results. It's really just preference. Springsteen's music interests me more and touches me more, but I have profound respect and admiration for Neil Young.
And we'll add this comment by Neil Young FAQ author Glen Boyd on the subject of Bruce & Neil:
Interesting piece Thrasher.

One thing I would disagree with for sure is Caryn's observation that Springsteen worries too much about what his fans think and doesn't take enough chances.

I would actually compare the Springsteen of the nineties to the neil Young of the eighties in many ways.

Think about it. Neil confounded his fans in the eighties by making a string of wildly experimental genre-bending albums...from the electro synth of Trans to the rockabilly of Everybodys Rockin to the country of Old Ways.

Bruce meanwhile confounded his fans in the nineties by firing the beloved E Street Band; releasing two albums simultaneously with a group of non-descript studio musicians and then touring with the same; and then pretty much disapearing off the radar altogether for the rest of the decade save for a decidedly dour and non-commercial record based on a Steinbeck novel (Tom Joad).

Right now, Neil is basically back on track doing one of the two things his fans love (there's that duality again) with the Prairie Wind/Heart of Gold accoustic thing. From what I read of his speech at SXSW, his next move is going to be a "loud one", which should please those other fans who dig the cranked to eleven thing.

Meanwhile, Bruce is doing an album of cover tunes by a folk music icon...complete with the fiddles and banjos...less than a year after a solo accoustic tour. Personally, I'd be lying if I said "The Seeger Sessions" has me exactly quivering with anticipation. To be honest, the song snippets I have heard from that record thus far haven't thrilled me much either.

And much as diehard fans like myself will tell you they liked Nebraska and Devils and Dust (both of which I did very much), I would also maintain that the quiet accoustic sound just sounds a lot more natural (at least to me) when Neil Young does it.

So you tell me who is the artist most pleasing his fans right now?

The E Street Band aren't getting any younger and with every minute Bruce spends exploring his "inner folkie", the clock ticks down on the possibility of one last E Street album and tour.

Quite the contrary. Bruce seems to have no problem exploring his muse and basically saying "Folk You" to those of us fans who don't like it right now.
Thanks Glen and all for your Bruce & Neil thoughts.

Add your comments below.

Over the years, Neil Young has intersected with a wide variety of artists like Bob Dylan and Pearl Jam. Another interesting musical intersection is that of Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young.

So how does the Canadian Young become labeled an American treasure? From On Milwaukee by Bill Zaferos on Neil Young's place in American music:
"Other than, say, Bruce Springsteen, who else has better expressed the late 20th and early 21st century American experience? Whether it was "Ohio" or "Rockin' in the Free World," or "Southern Man" or "Unknown Legend" or even "Old King," Young has always given voice to the meaning of life among the amber waves of grain, the crack-laden neighborhoods or the romantic longing of an American heart."


For many, Springsteen brings a rare combination of complex singer-songwriting and entertaining showman together in ways that Bob Dylan or Neil Young failed to achieve. From the U.K.'s Telegraph
by Neil McCormick on arguably the greatest solo performer of all time:
"Springsteen is both the most populist and (in terms of sales and live audience) the most popular. His songs spring out of the American maverick tradition with echoes of Steinbeck, Kerouac, Ginsberg and (in his new collection) Cormac McCarthy. His music has the blood of tradition in its veins and high art in its sights.

Yet unlike many of his singer-songwriting peers, Springsteen does not neglect his role as an entertainer. With the E Street Band, he comes from the American school of road-tested rock and roll that has, in lesser hands, given us so many efficient but essentially soulless showbands.

Springsteen combines the best of two very different worlds, the highly personal songwriter and the crowd-pleasing entertainer. He is, in effect, Bob Dylan and Elton John rolled into one. It is an unusual but compelling combination that makes him arguably the greatest solo performer of all time."

photo by Buzz Person

From The History of Rock Music - The Sixties by Piero Scaruffi:
"Neil Young constitutes with Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen the great triad of 'moral' voices of American popular music.

As is the case with the other two, Young's art is, first and foremost, a fusion of music and words that identifies with his era's zeitgeist. Unlike the others, though, Young is unique in targeting the inner chaos of the individual that followed the outer chaos of society. While Dylan 'transfers' his era's events into a metaphysical universe, and Springsteen relates the epic sense of ordinary life, Young carries out a more complex psychological operation that, basically, bridges the idealism of the hippy communes and the neuroses of the urban population. His voice, his lyrics, his melodies and his guitar style compose a message of suffering and redemption that, at its best, transcends in hallucination, mystical vision, philosophical enlightenment, while still grounded in a context that is fundamentally a hell on earth."

Bruce and Neil fans tend to agree over their hero's merits, although there are occasional flare-ups. As Glen blogs regarding Springsteen's upcoming Seeger Sessions:
"I actually found one comment interesting...and that was the one about comparing Bruce fans who miss the E Street Band to the way Neil fans miss Crazy Horse.

Not the same at all.

Neil has carved out a very effective "duality" in my view.

The quiet, accoustic Neil resonates every bit as effectively as the cranked up to eleven Neil does.

When Neil is doing his full on, cranked up to eleven electric thing, it's more about Neil's guitar playing than it is about the band (Crazy Horse)."

And the always brilliantly vivid Caryn on the Jukebox Graduate blog responds to the Bruce versus Neil debate:
"Bruce, regrettably, cares a little too much about letting his fans down. He needs to take more chances, not less. Neil doesn't care whether or not the fans get cranky, as evidenced on the Greendale tour and what happened with the audience reaction there. Neil just GOES. They are wildly divergent personality types and you might as well compare Springsteen to Sinatra."

So with the setup of compare, contrast and discuss provided by Dr. Eric Alterman's "greatness" quote above, The Jukebox Graduate and blogger Glen's response to Thrasher's strawman argument, here's a look at the fascinating intersections of Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young.

bruce springsteen and neil
"Even Bruce dropped in..."
Bruce Springsteen & Neil Young - Sydney, Australia
March 22, 1985

Photo from Thrasher's Archives

On March 22, 1985 in Sydney, Australia, Bruce Springsteen joined Neil onstage for an encore performance of "Down By The River". Bruce had performed the night before at Sydney's Entertainment Centre (3/21) and performed again the next night (3/23). In between Bruce's two concerts, Neil Young was scheduled to headline the Benefit for the Australian Cerebral Palsy Association concert. As noted in poster above, Neil's entire 1985 Australia tour was "ALL SOLD OUT".

Nils Lofgren, touring with Springsteen, joined Young onstage for several songs, including "Comes A Time" and "Helpless". At the conclusion of the 28 song setlist, Young invited Springsteen on stage. Bruce sang vocals on an amazing 20 minute version of "Down By The River".

Neil & Bruce
Bridge School Benefit Concert - October 13, 1986

"Helpless" - Neil Young with Bruce Springsteen

Neil Young invited Bruce Springsteen at the first annual Bridge School Benefit Concert in California in 1986. They performed Young's "Helpless" together. (Thanks Mike for reminder!)

bruce springsteen -young-jones-beach-06141989.jpg
Bruce & Neil
Jones Beach, New York on June 14, 1989

Springsteen joined Neil for an encore of "Down By The River" at Jones Beach, New York on June 14, 1989. Bruce is virtually inaudible on the tapes of the show. If Thrasher had not seen the video of the performance, it would have been hard to believe both Neil and Bruce sang at the mic.

Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young's music and careers have as many similarities as dissimilarities. Neil Young's "Rockin' in the Free World", has been compared with Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA," due to "the anthemic use of this song was based on largely ignoring the verses, which evoke social problems and implicitly criticize American government policies." (1) Neither artist has sold their songs for use as commercials, leaving them among a small handful not to do so.

Another Bruce and Neil connection occurred at the Academy Awards on March 21, 1994. Coincidentally, both Springsteen and Young were both nominated for Best Song in a Movie -- and in the same film -- Jonathan Demme's "Philadelphia". Bruce's nominated song was the film opening "Streets of Philadelphia" and Neil's was the closing title track "Philadelphia".

Bruce Springsteen won the Oscar award for his song "Streets of Philadelphia". In his acceptance speech, Springsteen acknowledged Young and said that the award really deserved to be shared by the other nominee's song.

In 1994, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and Neil Young joined on stage at the Roseland in New York City to perform 'Rainy Day Woman' and 'Highway 61 Revisited'.

At the 1995 Bridge School Benefit Concert, Springsteen joined Young for an encore of 'Down by the River'. Young remarked: "Bruce says he doesn't have any more songs, so we'll do one of mine".

St. Paul, MN - October 5, 2004
photo by Muriël Kleisterlee and Jos Westenberg

At the 2004 Vote For Change concert in St. Paul, MN, Neil and Bruce jammed together on "All Along the Watchtower" and "Souls of the Departed".

bruce-springsteen-devils-dust-cover.jpg prairie-wind-cover.jpg

But not all are totally impressed with this juncture in Springsteen's and Young's careers. From Nude as the News: review of both Springsteen's Devils and Dust and Young's Prairie Wind by Ben French:
"Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young have both been playing this sort of acoustic, singer/songwriter-type music for more than 30 years, so it’s not a crime if they repeat themselves from time to time. On the other hand, it surprises me when other writers blatantly ignore the fact that none of this is worth listening to more than a couple times – especially if you already own the artists’ older albums. UK writers always have a flare for the dramatic, but I think Guardian pushes the limits by calling Prairie Wind, “one of Shakey’s best.” Outrageous. Rolling Stone gave Devils & Dust 4 ½ stars, which seems incredibly polite."

As for reviewer Ben French's comments above, we're looking forward to Springsteen's upcoming Seeger Sessions and the crimes of artists repeating themselves from time to time.

In a review of the book Mansion on the Hill:Dylan, Young, Geffen, Springsteen, and the Head-On Collision of Rock and Commerce by Fred Goodman the reviewer feels that author Goodman has it backwards that Neil Young is the great musical hero and not Bruce:
    "Springsteen, because he has maintained a consistently high level of commercial success over the years, is a sell-out, and a manufactured creation of his manager. Whereas someone like Neil Young, because he hasn't been ashamed to release some real crap, is an artist of integrity, who won't give in to crass commercialism, by always giving his fans music that they will actually enjoy."

More Bruce and Neil mashups from the land of wheat fields and blog-ville [search].

Also, read more on other Neil Young collaborations, influences and mashups.

Add your comments below.

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Saturday, October 19, 2019



The shirt above will be available at the advance screening of Mountaintop: Neil Young with Crazy Horse on Tuesday, Oct 22.

However, only 1 shirt will be available at each screening of MOUNTAINTOP and only at participating theaters. Funds raised from will go toward fighting for the protection & rescue of America's wild horses. More details coming.

View this post on Instagram

LIVE WILD STAY FREE With much love & gratitude to Robin @magnoliapearl for the creativity and generosity in making these beautiful shirts @NeilYoungArchives is proud to be offering a limited # of Neil Young Crazy Horse embroidered shirts in efforts to support America’s imperiled wild horses Wild horses are living icons of the West, the ultimate renegades who symbolize freedom like the Eagle and the Buffalo. The wild mustangs rights to stay wild and live free are being whittled away, as they are now subjected to artificially imposed herd size limits, brutal round ups, inhumane spay and neuter experimentation and more, all due to private livestock, oil, gas and mining interests on our public lands! 100% of funds raised from these shirts will go towards efforts to keep America’s Wild horses naturally wild and free! Half the proceeds will go to @SkydogSanctuary to support the wonderful work they do in raising awareness and for the rescued mustangs in their care who were rounded up by the BLM from the wild. The other Half of the funds raised will go toward legal fight against a cruel and inhumane spay study being proposed by the BLM Corrals in Burns Oregon. Skydog Sanctuary is a 501c3 non-profit organization EIN # ‪81-3188893‬ that has helped bring over 100 wild horses and burros back to health at their 9000 acre Sanctuary in Oregon where they will remain for their lifetimes. One Shirt will be a available at each screening of the new documentary ~ MOUNTAINTOP showing one day only Tuesday 10/22/19 (at participating theaters) Go to to find the list theaters near you After that a few shirts will be available at Neil Young Archives online store -

A post shared by Daryl Hannah (@dhlovelife) on

Mountaintop: Neil Young with Crazy Horse
via Neil Young Archives

Tickets for the advance screening of Mountaintop: Neil Young with Crazy Horse on Tuesday, Oct 22 are now available here.

‘Mountaintop Sessions’ - Neil Young & Crazy Horse
via Neil Young Archives

Film description:
A raw and extremely unfiltered look at the process of Neil Young with Crazy Horse making their 1st album in 7 years. Witness the laughter, tensions, crusty attitudes & love of a rock & roll band that’s been together for 50 years as they share their passion, first and foremost... for the music.

A 2 minute preview trailer of ‘Mountaintop Sessions’, a documentary film about the making of COLORADO, by Neil Young & Crazy Horse was posted in September and below.

Neil Young posts on Neil Young Archives:
“Captured for you in living color, this document is sure to run 92 minutes. You may be surprised to learn some of the deep secrets of the process as you laugh your ass off in a theater near you.

One night only and there is a reason for that.”
[Emphasis added.]

As noted earlier, ‘Mountaintop Sessions’ will be released in over 100 theaters world-wide the week the album COLORADO debuts, in October. Along with the preview trailer, is an essay by Bill Bentley on the Neil Young & Crazy Horse studio recording process which is a must read for both content and style.

Bentley writes that: "Neil Young is a born filmmaker. The same sounds he hears in his head he sees with his eyes. He wants to share with those who want to join his journey." Bentley continues to capture the essence of Neil & The Horse: "It's like a 360-degree exposure to what Young's music really is: a life force that sustains not only him but also his audience."

Neil Young w/ Engineer John Hanlon

Typically, comments on YouTube cover the usual standard tired, tropes on Neil Young and his music. The latest wrinkle is the realization by some that Neil is "a dirty old man", as he once admittedly (and somewhat semi-proudly) sang of himself on the album Fork In The Road Chrome Dreams II. (We address the criticism in comments below with our usual fashion here @ TW.)

From Abramorama takes theatrical rights for Neil Young film “Mountain Top”: (Thanks HtH!)
“The only thing better than working on a Bernard Shakey film is working on another Bernard Shakey film,” Abramorama CEO Richard Abramowitz said in a statement. “Providing fans around the world with the opportunity to see how Neil and the band put it all together is a particularly rare and exciting experience.”
More on Neil Young & Crazy Horse recording the album COLORADO.

Neil Young & Crazy Horse's new album "COLORADO" is now available for pre-order. Order here. (Please shop locally & independently. But if you can't, we appreciate your supporting Thrasher's Wheat by clicking this link . Thank you!!!)

Billy, Neil, Nils, & Ralph - April 2019

via Neil Young Archives | Times Contrarian
photo: dhlovelife

Neil says: "One night only and there is a reason for that.” Well, we got our tickets and can't wait for this "one night only" w/ Crazy Horse!

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FLASHBACK: The Young and The RUSTLESS: A Neil Young Column by Bucks Burnett, No. 1, April 27, 2014


Neil Young
Dallas 18 Apr 2014
photo by Sten Thorborg
(Click photo to enlarge)

From the Editor's Desk, yesterday, we posted the amazing concert review by Bucks Burnett Maybe The Best Neil Young Concert Review EVER - "WHY I'M NOT HERE ANYMORE": An Essay On Neil Young Performance - Meyerson Symphony Center, Dallas, Texas, April 18, 2014.

As we mentioned, on Times-Contrarian | Neil Young Archives, on the Road Stories page, Neil posted Bucks Burnett's epic 2014 Dallas concert review, which inspired us to revist the TW Archives.

So back by popular demand, Bucks Burnett's "THE YOUNG AND THE RUSTLESS": A Neil Young Column.

enjoy ... again


From our latest, new best friend. Thanks Buck! - t

No. 1, April 27, 2014
A Neil Young Column by Bucks Burnett

When I wrote a lengthy rant/essay about my experience seeing Neil Young play solo acoustic at the Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas on April 18, I could not have foreseen what happened next; it got picked up by several Neil Young news and fan sites online, did a viral spiral up up and away, and elicited some amazing responses from friends and strangers alike. The strongest reaction I have ever received to anything I've ever created, including my music, art, other articles, poems, photos, etc.

Because of this unexpected reaction, I have decided to create a temporary Neil Young column, which I will write for myself and the NY community, because it has been so nice to connect with all of the Neil fans who have commented or reached out to me. I say temporary because I am quite likely to become distracted by something else and move on. Sound familiar?

But where to start? An essay on Zuma? A story about what it was like to meet Neil in 1987? Why I think his white label promos are amazing? I mean, now nerdy do you wanna get?

I decided to start where I left off; we are going back to the Meyerson. And I will tell you right now this will not be the unexpected hayride to the stars we took last time. This will be different. Please relax while I disappoint you.

People often ask me why I don't write for music magazines. It's very simple; the kind of writing and personal indulgence that made that essay as good as people may experience it to be, is not what magazines are looking for, nor should they be looking for it. I am not a music journalist, and would sooner taste death than become a music writer. My style is a bit too personal/abstract/indulgent for Mojo/Rolling Stone/Etc., but I'm always honored when people suggest it. Not gonna happen. I would rather you be reading this for free after I write it for free, than have you read a watered down version that I got paid to write.

But I raise the abstract quality to make the point of this column; if you read my review of the show, it was a pretty intense description of Neil stealing all of our souls by vacuuming us into his guitar, the one that used to belong to Hank Williams. You need to know something. That was not poetic, or analogy, it was real. I actually believe that I and many others now have part of our souls, maybe a small part, trapped in that guitar forever, until Hank or Neil or Tiny Tim decide to free us, wherever or whyever or whenever.

Everyone I know who saw that show agrees with me; the ones who were slain by Mr. Young all believe that this was not just a stellar performance, but a life altering event which we do not understand. My review was not an attempt to make a crazy point, but an honest attempt to figure out what is different about me and my friends now. And as I wrote it it all became clear. Allow me to elaborate.

Not really in touch with the part of myself that belongs in the Guitar now, I will try to describe it to you as I see it.

I am one ounce small. I am floating effortlessly with many other tiny soul pieces inside Hank and Neil's guitar. It reminds me of the Meyerson; a great old venue to hang in. When you are this small, the inside of an old guitar is really quite roomy. You don't miss the real world very much, as the rest of you, your body, is still outside the Guitar somewhere, working, sleeping, doing all the things you used to. But you don't live in that world or body anymore. You live in the Guitar.

Looking up I see a roof of dimly lit ancient wood. Light comes in, from a spotlight or maybe the refridgerator on Neil's tourbus. We love it when the light comes in. Sometimes it's a flash like lightning, or soft like starlight.

We love it when applause enters through the hole of the guitar. What a thrill! We all feel loved by the audience, and briefly remember when we were people, too.

But most of all, we love it when Neil strums or picks the strings. We feel the vibrations of sound with such force and purity that we are frozen in unity and we hum; we respond to the notes by humming the notes, and we are quite sure that our vibrations to these notes are flying back out of the guitar into the crowd of people, or into the campfire at Neil's Broken Arrow Ranch, or into the bedroom if that's where he's writing a song. Sometimes we see the Piano, and send our greetings to the souls that landed in that. Same with the Pipe Organ. But we all connect with a greater force, a larger deity than we thought possible; it's a benefit of living in the Guitar. We also connect and vibrate with the Wooden Indian.

We love the Wooden Indian, and he loves us. He is our Father. Without language he tells us stories, of when he was a young boy trapped inside a magic tree trunk, and an Old Man came along and cut away pieces of the tree, until much to his surprise, he was not only free from the tree, but all grown up and ready to ride, ready to hunt. But he cannot because he is still part tree and cannot move of his own free will. So he is grateful that Neil moves him, takes him around the world, puts him onstage next to the Organ and the Piano.

He loves to see out into the audience while the houselights are still on. When the Sun sets, very quickly, he knows that Neil will come to the camp ground, the one on the stage in the big teepee, and sing some stories. Songs about old men and Ohio. Songs about a man and a maid, about love breaking a heart. Songs about Cortez. Sometimes when Neil is writing, the Indian will think of a word or two when Neil is stuck, and Neil hears it, and finishes the song.

It is not Neil directing us into the Guitar at the concerts, it is the Indian. The Indian was once a boy trapped in a very old tree. One day an Old Man cut down the tree and carved enough of it away that the Indian was free. Not to move physically of his own free will, but spiritually. With the help of Indian and animal spirits he conducts the moving of souls. Human souls, into the Guitar of Hank Williams and Neil Young. He loves the Guitar. He loves having all of us live in the Guitar and the Piano and the Organ. They are his Relatives, his Family.

He knows they are related because they, too, were once all trapped inside of old trees. They were trapped, yearning for something. Then an Old Man and even an Old Woman came along, and carved them, and used nails and glue and other things until the trees looked and sounded like instruments, the ones they wanted to be.

Ask the Indian where songs come from. Without moving his eyes he will look up, to the sky, and then down, to the ground. And then he will look at you. Sometimes the songs come from you. Did you know that? Then they go to Neil, then they come out of the Instruments that were trapped in trees.

This is very simple and makes perfect sense, once you know it. This is what the Guitar tells us as we float around in it, humming. Listen to the Guitar; it tells the story much better than me.


©2014 Bucks Burnett. Created for free distribution through Neil Young fans and their chosen media. Content owned by Bucks Burnett. Contact to subscribe to his writing or visit as desired.

Neil Young
Dallas 18 Apr 2014
photo by Sten Thorborg
(Click photo to enlarge)

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Friday, October 18, 2019

Maybe The Best Neil Young Concert Review EVER - Dallas 2014


Neil Young
Dallas 18 Apr 2014
photo by Sten Thorborg
(Click photo to enlarge)

From the Editor's Desk, yesterday, on Times-Contrarian | Neil Young Archives, on the Road Stories page, Neil posted a 2014 concert review. As we read the review, we said, gee, this is very familiar?! It turns out that this review was originally published here on Thrasher's Wheat and we are now re-posting.

Curiously, the synchronicity here is that we just wrote about repurposing archival TW material. Probably just a coincidence...

enjoy ... again


By now, we must have read a million Neil Young concert reviews -- or at least it feels like it.

So when we come across a review that really strikes us, we like to share it with our friends who "get Neil". So it is with great pleasure that we bring to you one of the finest Neil Young concert reviews we've ever read.

So sit back and enjoy this review of Neil Young at the Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas, Texas on April 18, 2014 by Bucks Burnett. Thanks for sharing Bucks. Straight from the heart -- out to the people.

Essay On Neil Young Performance
Meyerson Symphony Center
Dallas, Texas
April 18, 2014
by Bucks Burnett

Last night was not a concert. It was a congregation being blessed by snake oil from a traveling salesman. But this guy carries the real stuff because we are healed from our earthly concerns. This was a very rare example of paying $200 for a four million dollar show. He took us away and we are not coming back. I do not want to hear music today or talk to people today. Or be seen. I want to be alone with this vibration in my soul.

By the standards of most hardcore Neil Young fans, I am a complete lightweight. Have seen him less than ten times, don't own a single bootleg. Pathetic. But he means what he means to me, which is a lot. Millions are influenced and inspired by him, so it's not unique to be a big fan. But where the uniqueness sets in is in the heart; he holds a very high place in my heart and soul and mind. Those feelings are unique to me, as they are to anyone else who holds him dear. It's a very personal thing to like Neil Young. It's a bit unfair to Neil, all of us focusing on him so much, so I cast my love lightly.

I saw him a few times from the mid 80's to the late 90's, and then stopped going, for no particular reason. Like I said, no follower status for me. But to me it's serious, because of how it feels. I met him in 1987 by his tour bus and we had a nice chat. Does that count for anything? When I worked at Warner Bros. Records in Burbank in 1985, I wrote the Billboard Magazine trade ad for Old Ways. It just said 'The New Neil Young.' Kind of ironic and my boss loved it. I was at a party in L.A. and two guys next to me were having a conversation about the ad. I told them I had written it and they said it was genius. Now that was a funny moment, and it was at that point I decided to quit my job at Warners and go back to Texas, because I decided I did not want to live in a town where people talk about the fucking trade ad more than the record. So I gave notice, and during my last week there a young guy from Slash records was introduced as my replacement. Bill Bentley and I were already friends, so I was glad that Bill would inherit my office. Bill worked at WB for many years, and eventually became Neil's publicist for awhile, so go figure skate. We always joke that by quitting my fancy job, I changed two lives - his and mine. My fork in the road became his table setting. Bill is from Texas like me and we will be best friends forever. I always like to say that if I had been born Bill Bentley I might be somebody someday.

So, a handful of gigs, a meeting by the bus, and a trade ad. That's all I got for ya, people.

Because of my lightweight status, I did not buy tickets to Neil's two gigs at the big fancy Meyerson Symphony Center. The prices were scary. I'm 55, slowing down on all this. I thought about it. Then Thursday night, April 17th, my friend Hubert, who is not a lightweight, called me from the Meyerson. He sounded shaken. He told me I had to go Friday. It was the best Neil show he had ever seen. Coming from Hubert, that meant a lot. I emailed Bill. He told me to get my ass to that gig no matter what. When Bill says jump I look for a trampoline. My online ticket search brought only bad news. Sky high prices. I wrote Neil's manager asking for help, which was a ridiculous thing to do. I ended up just driving to the Meyerson and they had a few tickets so I was actually relieved by the time I was breaking up forever with $215. Lower balcony by the soundboard. I was in. That was all that mattered by that point.

This is not a review of the show; this is a review of my experience. This is how it made me feel and what it made me think. This is my mind on Neil.
The first half was great, solo acoustic, with piano and organ, and carved Indian. I want to be his Indian roadie. A very powerful set marred by idiots talking through many of the songs no matter how many times we scolded them. At one point a guy started actually interviewing Neil in a loud voice from the audience. Neil just laughed it off and started the next song. You can go on about how people behave at a concert like this, but in the end you gotta remember that even when a genius is playing, a dumbass will always be talking. That's not a Neil problem, that's an Earth problem. Humans will never get it together. Maybe we're not meant to. But when you are a human opening your second set with "Cortez The Killer" on acoustic guitar, you might be considered a human who may have gotten it together.

The second set arced up, and it was during "Man Needs A Maid" that I realized something was happening that had not been advertised; we were all being kidnapped. Neil was taking us somewhere new. As he wandered the stage telling funny stories about buying Hank Williams' guitar, and decided which guitar to play, or the piano, or the pipe organ, I started not caring which song was playing or how well it was played. My soul was being changed. He told us that the Meyerson was in the top 2 or 3 venues that he had ever played in America. Big news from the man who hates bad sound.

Near the end he played the pipe organ, which was elevated. I was thinking, 'There he is on top of the mountain. An older man who wrote "Old Man," taking a look at himself cause he's a lot like him.' Gratitude welled in me; that he is still here, that I can still hear. What a sight to see such a cool guy surrounded by guitars he loves in a hall he loves playing to people in awe. I thought, 'He has made it to the future and taken us with him. I can film him with my telephone but I won't, and he can charge way too much money but it's not. Holy fuck, I'm having a Moment.

Near the end of the show, and I can't tell you why, or how it felt, I started realizing this was the best Neil show I had ever seen. Scratch that, the best show by anybody I had ever seen. That was astounding.

Forget the setlist. Images play in my head two days later. The vibrations continue within. His album covers float in my head. Here's what I decided about that night.

Neil Young is a traveling snake oil salesman. But he gets his oil from real snakes. Exotic snakes undocumented by National Geographic. He wanders the planet in his amazing tour bus, which I briefly stood in once. He's charging a fortune and telling fortunes, changing misfortune into wine in places that charge wine prices for water.

At home after the show I was too in awe of my experience to listen to music. I laid in bed typing comments on facebook about the show, which is beyond lame, but that is what we do these days. But I decided that this snake oil salesman is in fact a magic hobo, driving around in his ancient bus, playing halls. But what he's doing is illogical but not illegal, not yet. He is stealing souls.

That night in Dallas, as we cheered and stared, all of our souls were flying straight into the hole of Hank Williams' guitar. He finally figured out how to really help us. It's not about his songs healing us anymore, that is not enough. He knows he's mortal, on a train that will go over the cliff at some point. When Neil Young dies, everyone will freak out over the loss, and lament the passing of a great man, and be sad that he cannot ever sing or write again, and that his likes will not be seen again. And that's fair.

But it's only half true. Something amazing is happening on this tour. He's giving the shows of his life, but that's not even the good part. The good thing is that he is stealing souls. He's a very clever man, and he has figured out that if he outdoes himself just greatly enough, our souls will all fly into Hank's guitar. He's got the guitar on the tourbus, and the bus is following the miniature Lionel train locomotive, unseen on the silvery tracks of Time. When the train and the bus reach the end of the tracks, Neil will disappear. That will be funny to Neil, as he takes one last look back, and the train and the bus pull up into the Dark Vast Beyond, into the stars beyond this world.

Where he is going we do not know. And I don't care. He's never led me wrong. He takes the scenic path but he gets there. He is grinning already because he knows he is rescuing us in the only way he knows. He blasts us with Martin vibrations, and we echo back to him, into Hank's guitar. Into Hank's magic guitar, where part of us will live until the guitar itself is handed back to Hank in the Celestial Whatever. At least two worlds exist by my count; This One and That One. Now that I'm in the guitar, I'm connected to both. Where Neil goes, I go, with all the vibrations of all the people who went in with me, before me, after me.

So the day after the gig, I was contemplating if I could even drive to work at my record store. i was kind of in a trance. I decided I was right; that was the best concert I had ever seen. And I realized that I am no longer here, not completely. Part of my soul is with Neil, in the guitar in the case on the bus, headed wherever he is going, here, there, Eterniwhere.

Not a morning person. But today I woke up in awe, in love, in joy, from last night's show. Still stand by it; the best concert I have ever seen. Holy water to the masses from a universal hobo. In a stupid state of wordless bliss. Too sacred. Neil Young took us all away. Not coming back to earth for awhile. Floating. Can someone drive me to work? Because I may be in a trance.

The vibrations of sound and soul linger and mingle, passing and joining each other. We are all dissolving into Time as it fades away. I will never be fully Here again because part of me is There, ahead of schedule. My ticket to Infinity was $215. Plus gratuity for the Porter, once I arrive. And they say you can't get a bargain these days.

Our species, The Humans, are not always on top of our game. It can get embarrassing. But tonight, Neil Young demonstrated why People were invented; to do many many magnificent things, things that inspire People to be more wonderful. Tonight I am proud of our species, because of what one of us has done for so many of us. Thank you Neil, for the greatest concert I have ever seen, a heroic and inspiring night beyond description or comprehension. If you ever need another Martin guitar, you can have mine. I surrender.

PS: If I leave sooner than expected, I will be replaced by Bill Bentley.

Bucks Burnett
Blurred Visionary
Dallas, Texas
April 20, 2014
Thanks Bucks! Really is an honor and privilege to share so much with our fellow Neil fans. Long May You Run, sir. We'll see you, Neil, Hank & Bill in the Celestial Whatever, someday, when smog turns to stars.

Neil Young
Dallas 18 Apr 2014
photo by Sten Thorborg
(Click photo to enlarge)

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VIDEO: A Protest Song for Canada: "Politician Man" by Adrian Sutherland,

Earlier this year, we posted a cover of Neil Young's "Heart of Gold" by the Canadian band Midnight Shine.

As we said at the time, while many may argue that the world really didn't need yet another cover of Neil Young's "Heart of Gold", we begged to differ. Because we say that the world really DOES need another cover of Neil Young's "Heart of Gold". Actually many, many more would be a thing of beauty. And if you watched their beautifully, wonderful video cover featuring Cree Indian children in Northern Ontario, you understood.

"It's these expressions I never give
That keep me searching for a heart of gold"

Video frame via "Heart of Gold" by Midnight Shine

(Yes -- it really is all about The Kids, The Children of Destiny.)

The video above is titled "Politician Man", the debut single from Adrian Sutherland, a protest song for Canada. The seeds were planted in July, when his Cree community of Attawapiskat declared a state of emergency over contaminated water. At the same moment, insensitive comments from a politician in Ottawa sparked massive public outcry, a spontaneous response from Sutherland himself, and national media coverage.

Call it uncanny circumstances that lead to the release of a song from Adrian Sutherland (of Midnight Shine). Uncanny timing, too, considering the song’s name, and the fact there’s a federal election just around the corner. Jump ahead to August, when co-writing sessions with musical brothers sparked a song that was important, timely, and totally kickass. One day in September, that song came to life in a recording studio. By the first week of October, a filmmaker was adding his keen artistic eye to the message behind the music.

The result… is Politician Man, released October 17 with accompanying video by Justin Stephenson (director of animation and editor, The Secret Path).

Politician Man was written by Adrian Sutherland, Chris Gormley (The Trews, Daylight for Deadeyes), and Matt Gormley (Daylight for Deadeyes). It was produced and engineered by Carl Jennings at Westmoreland Recording in Hamilton, mastered by João Carvalho in Toronto, and released independently on Sutherland’s record label, Midnight Shine Music.

Politician Man speaks to Canada’s troubled relationship with First Nations. Growing up in an isolated place like Attawapiskat has given Sutherland a unique perspective, while his growing profile as an artist is now giving him a voice. This is his way of taking action, doing something, about the ongoing struggle that Indigenous people face in Canada, while the country takes growing steps toward reconciliation.

“Sometimes reconciliation sounds like an empty word, and it’s frustrating. You keep trying to get ahead, but there are ongoing challenges, one obstacle after another. I have to wonder what I’m doing still living in Attawapiskat, and if anything is ever going to make a difference,” says Sutherland.

“The relationship between Canada and First Nations has been difficult for a long time, and in many ways it still is. Politician Man is about this relationship, and the need for all of us – politicians, chiefs, Indigenous people, all Canadians – to start listening to each other, and take steps together. Let’s move past the blaming and do something. We all need to do our part. That’s what reconciliation is, and the message behind Politician Man.”

When it came time to think about something visual to go with the audio, only one person came to mind. Sutherland’s team approached Justin Stephenson, who saw the vision right away. Stephenson came up with a video treatment that, quite literally, makes Politician Man a song about a country done in a style that pays homage to country songs, while honouring Sutherland’s Cree culture.

"I love the song and believe in the message. I really wanted to do this. Adrian is a real talent and powerful storyteller. He’s the kind of person that makes you want to do something about this difficult history, and makes me, personally, want to be a better ally. In this song, I feel he really speaks to non-Indigenous people in a way that makes you want to step up. My respect for him grows with each pass of the video I make,” says Stephenson, who had only two weeks from concept to completion.

“I knew we’d have footage of Adrian in the studio and used this as the starting point. We wanted to combine his performance with images of Canada, and sought permission from Canadian Geographic to use their Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada. It's a beautiful and important map that shows Indigenous territories and communities without provincial boundaries.”

Adrian's family did a translation of the title into Cree syllabics, explains Stephenson: “I was struck by Adrian’s description of the Cree term for ‘Politician Man’ – which he said translates into ‘okimaw-khan’ or ‘voted big boss’. I found this interesting as it takes into account the system of governance imposed by the Indian Act.”

“I added song lyrics using a treatment reminiscent of the rich and inviting visual language of old Nashville music posters, with design embellishments that draw inspiration from Cree floral patterns like those found on the beading on moccasins and mitts.”


Politician Man is being released at the start of Secret Path Week, a national movement commemorating the legacies of Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack, and calling on all Canadians to “Do Something.” Adrian Sutherland will be taking part in several events in the Toronto area:

Ø October 16 – Legacy: A Tribute to Gord Downie (Rose Theatre, Brampton)

Ø October 17 – Artist Ambassador school visit (Toronto)

Ø October 17 – Indie Week media event (Toronto)

Ø October 17 – Legacy: A Tribute to Gord Downie (Burlington Centre for the Performing Arts)

Ø October 18 – Exploring By The Seat Of Your Pants online classroom (streaming from Toronto)

Ø October 18 – Gord’s Legacy Concert: The Path of Reconciliation (First Ontario PAC, St. Catharines)

mahalo, pono

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Thursday, October 17, 2019

Comment of the Moment: NOW PLAYING: "Greendale" on Neil Young Archives

Officer Carmichael Pulling Over Jed
' "Carmichael you asshole,"
the new widow sobbed beneath her veil,
"shot down in the line of duty
is this how justice never fails?" '

via frame from "Greendale" | NYA

The Comment of the Moment is from post "NOW PLAYING: "Greendale" on Neil Young Archives" by Scotsman:
If I were picking my 5 albums for my trip to the WiFi-less desert island (and you can stop celebrating - I'm not actually going), there are several of Neil's seventies albums that wouldn't be able to make the cut. But Greendale would be in there. There's just so much packed into those 10 songs that it would be impossible to leave them behind.

Hopefully you can all sense my enthusiasm every time I start rambling about this album. And it doesn't need to be seen as an "environmental" record: I know that label turns some people off before they even give it a chance. Part of the album's success is that it approaches the (I think, compelling) environmental subject from an angle.

It's really just an album about life, about people, and Neil has stuck with the writing long enough to come up with a progression of songs that are dripping with life themselves. It's a real gem in his collection. It's emotional. It's very relatable. It's a lot of fun. Its packed full of feeling and observations and off-hand insights.

The somewhat scrappy, idiosyncratic performances turn some people off, too; I think the songs and performances have a lot of charm, a lot of attitude, and are robust enough to tolerate the more-than-occasional bum note.

When Neil is inspired, sits down with pen and paper and writes until something great flows out of him (and when he resists the temptation to skip that last bit, the bit that takes some maintained focus), everything instantly gets easier; because he's building on a solid foundation.

I use the "mining" analogy a lot. You need to mine for gold, and Neil needs to mine for great songs, too. The best ones arent sitting there on the surface, and take a little presistance and patience to gain access to. Greendale goes beneath the surface.

This is an album you need to sit with for a while; there are layers to it that are not going to become apparent to you on first listen. I think most people who dislike Greendale have given up on it too early. It's too weird, too different. And it needs to be listened to as a complete piece. But greatness always comes in a form that mentally moves us, and it's not always an instant process.

To get the best out of Greendale you need to relate it not to Neil's life but to your own. It's a story about you. You can find yourself in there if you want to. And I think this album is made for the Sun Greens of this world, but there's so much of life captured here that I think we can all find plenty to relate to. We can see something of ourselves and our fellow humans in these songs.

So as fun and as personal as Neil's Greendale film is, I'd be tempted to bypass it in favour of the wonderful 'Inside Greendale' sessions film. Or just listen to the album. Why skip the film? Neil has used his imagination a lot in making this album: now it's time for us to follow his lead and go to town with ours.

Scotsman - as always, thanks for your insightful contributions. Once again demonstrating that Neil fans/rusties are some of the most knowledgeable and articulate music fans out there.

Yeah, Greendale. We've literally written a book here on the subject. Greendale has been compared to the literary classics of John Steinbeck's work, Thornton Wilder's "Our Town" and Sherwood Anderson's "Winesburg, Ohio" for its complexity and emotional depth in exploring tragedy in a small town in America.

Simply put, Greendale is "Neil Young's Avatar".

Neil Young’s Greendale
Written by Joshua Dysart, Illustrated by Cliff Chiang

Inside The Making of Neil Young’s Greendale Graphic Novel

Greendale: Everyone's Hometown.

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Wednesday, October 16, 2019

NOW PLAYING: "Greendale" on Neil Young Archives

Sun Green (Sara White) and Grandpa (Ben Keith)

The film "Greendale" is now playing on Neil Young Archives in the Hearse Theater.

Neil Young calls "Greendale" on Times-Contrarian | NYA "one of the biggest highlights of my filming life".

Making Greendale
Neil Young Filming Greendale Actors Grandpa & Jed

But back in 2003, "Greendale" was one of the most controversial and divisive albums and concert tours of Neil Young's career. The importance of "Greendale" can not be understated - either in terms of Neil Young's body of work, nor its impact on his fan base. This is how we memorialized "Greendale" on Thrasher's Wheat Home Page in June 2003:
With the arrival of Greendale in 2003 -- for us -- Greendale was like a sledgehammer to the anvil of truth and awakened this blog from it's post-9/11 dormancy. Because when Neil Young Sings Truth To Power, The World Listens.
So let that soak in for a moment.

This website was launched in 1996 -- about 23 years ago. It sort of languished with periodic updates until 2003. Then, with the theme of the "Greendale" songs coming into focus, we here were inspired to begin daily blog updates. At the time we said we would update the blog daily until the concert tours "Greendale" ended. But the tour kept going and going and going around the world, well into 2004, along with all the ancillary books, videos, films, etc.

So we can safely say that Thrasher's Wheat would not exist today if it had not been for "Greendale". Period. Full stop.

'She was welded to the eagle's beak
sun green leaned into that megaphone
and said, "truth is all i seek" '
"Sun Green"
by Neil Young

As many of our long time readers here at Thrasher's Wheat know, we have long since declared: "The Inconvenient Truth of Greendale".

Mainly this observation centered on the album's environmental call to action and it's plea to respect Mother Nature and all of her creations. But environmentalism is but just one of the many themes of Neil Young's 2003 album Greendale, which we once boldly declared "the most important album of 2003, the musical equivalent of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring".

Greendale Graphic Novel
By Joshua Dysart/Cliff Chiang

The inconvenient truth of Neil Young's Greendale is that he was right -- and his message is even more relevant today than upon Greendale's original release.

greendale flag

For some, 2003's Greendale was an incomprehensible disaster. From The Washington Post's critic David Segal on Year 2003 CDs, who labeled Greendale as the year's "most baffling critical swoon", Segal writes: "Neil Young's 'Greendale' is "a droning mess of a concept album inexplicably hailed as ingenious" and "a vanity project gone stupefyingly wrong".

For others though, Greendale was hailed as a groundbreaking concept album similar to The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Who's Tommy or Pink Floyd's 'The Wall'.

Some critics went as far as saying that Young had broken new ground by creating an entirely unique art form -- the "audio novel". From New York Times article 'Have You Heard the New Neil Young Novel?' by Madison Smartt Bell:
"Mr. Young has always been remarkable for his creative resilience, and this time he really has done something new, rendering into this combination of print and audio a novel that is surprisingly sophisticated and satisfyingly complete."


The inconvenient truth of Greendale is its uncomfortable confrontation with themes such as the power of mass media and global corporations, loss of personal freedoms and privacy, destruction of the environment, rampant fraud and corruption, an out of balance government and breakdown of the family. All of which we've detailed before here, here, and here.

"Everything You're Looking For" - Bandit

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