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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Peak Neil?

Neil's Career: A Few Ups & Downs
Details Magazine - Nov. 1990

Excuse me, but can someone please say that Neil Young's career has reached another peak?

OK, so this is pretty arcane stuff. I mean seriously? Plotting a musical career like the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Really.

Details Magazine made an attempt back in November 1990 citing the well known peaks and valleys of Neil's career from 1969 - 1990.

So -- just for our amusement -- suppose we attempted to continue the graphic through Prairie Wind? Is it a After The Goldrush? A Tonight's The Night? A Rust Never Sleeps? Even a Ragged Glory?

Of course not.

But judging from the harmonic convergence around Neil Young's career in 2005 and the the seismic events forecast for 2006 like the "Heart of Gold" film and The Archives, it seems that we are reaching "Peak Neil".

Here are a few indicators signaling "Peak Neil":

Official Neil Young Archives Web Page Established

Musical Guest for week on the Conan O'Brien TV Show

2 Grammy Nominations for Neil Young

Neil Young on Saturday Night Live

"Bring me a cheeseburger and a new Rolling Stone"

So what's next? A guest appearance on Jay Leno? A concert appearance with Dylan?

Neil Young & Jonathan Demme
"Heart of Gold" film Premeires @ Sundance 2006

Well, at least we don't have to worry about Neil showing up at the White House like some other rock stars.

Hey, I think we'll all be happy if we hear The Archives in 2006.

UPDATE Feb. 6, 2006: Sometimes when writing these brief news items, Thrasher doesn't put as much clarification and background as we would like. Greg's comment below needs to be highlighted:
"Neil can only be defined in terms of peaks and lows by people who can only think in linear terms. Can't you just appreciate what's happening in the present? Why do you feel compelled to glory in the "peaks"?"

Couldn't agree with you more here, Greg. Absolutely. Thinking in terms of peaks & valleys seems to be the nature of today's discourse. But anything involving the creative arts should not be held hostage to the whims of the market. Clearly, Neil has never been too concerned with these ups and downs. And this is what we admire and has allowed Neil's creativity to ebb and flow over a much longer period than if he had simply flamed up & burned out.

See Rust Never Sleeps analysis and The Greendale Challenge for more on artistic freedom and creativity vs. audience pandering.


At 1/31/2006 10:45:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

umm. Comparing Neil to a commodity like oil or pork bellies is really arcane

At 1/31/2006 11:35:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

its worth noting that the rocker who showed up at the white house wasn't some neocon crony of bush's. It was Bono, who is trying to end poverty. That sounds like the type of cause Neil could get behind, and I would be glad as a fan of his if he showed up at the White House with similar intentions.

At 2/01/2006 12:48:00 AM, Blogger Titangoober said...

Well,,,,,,,,,,,he could start off the month of February by comin' around my house here in middle Tennessee and showing me how to get my dang studio put up.............I would like to put up a large wooden floored,rug carpeted jammin', country rockin, jack daniel sippin, buidin.........Thats what he needs to do next........forget the boys in washington and the irish boys............he needs to get here quickly..............

At 2/01/2006 08:03:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

interesting theory...

At 2/01/2006 08:33:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One could argue that peak Neil was achieved in the late '70's/RNS period. And oh what a long, glorious decline it has been!

At 2/01/2006 08:36:00 AM, Blogger thrasher said...

regarding the comment about Bono & The White House --
The post didn't mean to imply that Bono's cause was illegitimate. The point was that it's highly unlikely that we'll see Neil lobby the leader of the free world on Farm Aid. Maybe someday the family farm will merit being a priority on the domestic agenda.

At 2/01/2006 08:52:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think the rock stars PLURAL could be CSN-Carter Administration,
1977 or so...

At 2/01/2006 01:47:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Frankly, Bono has greater success with the causes he holds dear, because he is pragmatic.

The family farm(er) isn't the problem--it is US farm policy and subsidies.

If the FA collective truly want to make a lasting impact, they will have to follow Bono's lead and weal/deal with politicians.

As for the White House, I would love to see Neil get a Congressional Medal for the Arts--many none citizens have been recognised... and why not from W? neil can hand-off a copy of 'Greendale'--LOL!

At 2/02/2006 01:42:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Peak Neil? C'mon Thrasher. The best is yet to come!

At 2/02/2006 06:43:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neil & Dylan performing together. Now that would really be something too behold.

At 2/06/2006 03:10:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My greatest hope is that 2006 will be another in a long train of years that purported to be peak Neil Young. Just when you think he's peaked and can't get up again, he reemerges from a perceived hibernation and is right up in your grill again. "A long decline" since RNS? I can't believe a real Neil Young fan could so blithely dismiss the NY gallery of post RNS releases, releases that supplied the fertile ground for all the other "peaks".

If you can figure out the dynamic of Neil’s muse, or the concept of muse itself, I encourage you to bottle it up and make as much off of it as you can. I feel safe in the assertion that you can't. I feel just as safe in the assertion that Neil himself hasn't figured it out. What makes him different from you and me, apart from the disposition to write it all down when it's happening, is that he doesn't pretend to have figured it out either. What separates Neil from most of the rest is his reverence for openness, and the just as crucial insistence on filtering out the extraneous.

I admit that it would be a tall order to top the peaks of the past, even to equal them. But if Neil thinks that he has another "Like A Hurricane " in him, who am I to doubt it? You know what I really think? Neil can only be defined in terms of peaks and lows by people who can only think in linear terms. Can't you just appreciate what's happening in the present? Why do you feel compelled to glory in the "peaks"? I love whatever Neil is doing right now- After The Gold Rush, Rust Never Sleeps, Freedom, Ragged Glory and their ilk, are just icing on the cake.

To paraphrase Neil, "What I do and what sells records are two totally different things". It's about creativity, sensitivity, openness and muse. Appreciation for everything, "highs" and "lows"- delivered in total honesty, that's what it's all about. Greg

At 2/06/2006 07:29:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

Couldn't agree with you more here, Greg. See updated post above 2/6.


At 2/07/2006 11:54:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sometimes I'm a little strident when I jump on a point. In retrospect I should not take it for granted that Thrasher and fellow Neil appreciators don't think in linear terms. We love Neil, "high" and "low".

More to the point probably, is that I am overly sensitive to the view of Neil taken by the music world, the record industry, and what should be an infinately larger audience. As well known, and relatively embraced as Neil has become across many lines in recent years, the greater part of his work is unknown because of linear minded people and music industry practices that can't see beyond the "peaks".

I guess I should get over it once and for all, and take to heart the classic sentiment: "So all you critics sit alone. You're no better than me for what you've shown". (Ambulance Blues) If Neil can turn his back on what other people think, I guess I should to. Greg

At 2/07/2006 01:31:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to agree with Greg here. But after reading the Greendale Challenge link, I don't see how anybody could ever doubt Neil's cred.
The Hoov' in Vancouv'

At 2/27/2006 09:40:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neil is a non stop idea factory, where an idea is an idea, regardless if the idea peaks or not.

At 1/15/2007 02:45:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Peak Neil. Gotta's a clever play on Peak Oil. Makes me wonder if other analogies can be drawn. So, is another sign of Peak Neil, that demand will soon start to outpace supply? Will the cost of Neil begin to skyrocket? Will Neil start to re-package his works and sell them multiple times at ever increasing cost? Will Neil Neil sell off tracts of land to cover growing property taxes? Lest we get to down on the concept of "Peak Neil", let us not forget the economic implications coming to light. Well done Thrash! :-)



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