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Saturday, September 15, 2007

Comment of the Moment: "Ordinary People"

The news that "Ordinary People" will be released on the upcoming Chrome Dreams is being welcomed by most Neil Young fans. But not all. Thrasher's Wheat's Comment of the Moment offers a contrary opinion (on "Ordinary People" Previewed on Rust Radio) by HE Pennypacker:

Neil needs somebody with the honesty and forth-rightness that David Briggs had. He just can't seem to make the right career calls without Briggs. 'Ordinary People' deserved better than this - once Neil had moved on from the Bluenotes, and shelved plans for the live album from that period, the chance had passed for the song to be released on anything other than the Archives. Neil is mistaken to think that Chrome Dreams II (that title is another bad call) is the perfect setting for the release of this song after 20 years. Beautiful Bluebird & Ordinary People on the same album?? That's unfair to both songs in my opinion.

Over the years Neil has been prepared to release a live version of a song when he knows he has nailed it and won’t be able to better it in the studio – he included the live ‘Natural Beauty’ on Harvest Moon for that very reason. He was set to release a live version of ‘Stringman’ on the original Chrome Dreams. He only included two studio recorded songs on Rust Never Sleeps, as he already had perfect concert versions of the rest. And he didn’t attempt to reproduce the great live acoustic ‘Rockin’ in the Free World’ on Freedom in the studio. I’m sure there’s plenty of other examples too. All good decisions…

Ordinary People is a magnificent live song from 1988 – it doesn’t belong on a 2007 bits and pieces studio album. And changing the verses around is tragic. It loses its meaning & imagery completely. The original opening lines –

“In a dusty town a clock struck high noon, two men stood face to face.
One wore black and one wore white, but of fear there wasn't a trace.”


transports the listener straight back to the old west. And then you’re pushed back into the present day –

“Two hundred years later two hot rods drag through the very same place..”

and spend the next eight verses embroiled in the woes of modern society, before looking back to better times with the optimistic last verse –

“Out on the railroad track, they're cleanin' up number nine.
They're scrubbin' the boiler down, well, she really is lookin' fine.
Awe, she's lookin' so good, they're gonna bring her back on line,
Ordinary people.
They're gonna bring the good things back, nose-to-the stone people.
Put the business back on track, ordinary people.
I got faith in the regular kind, hard workin' people,
Patch-of-ground people.”


Why change the order?? It’s like opening ‘Pocahontas’ with

“And maybe marlon brando
Will be there by the fire
Well sit and talk of hollywood
And the good things there for hire
And the astrodome and the first tepee”


instead of the stunning imagery of

“Aurora borealis
The icy sky at night
Paddles cut the water
In a long and hurried flight
From the white man to the fields of green
And the homeland we’ve never seen.”


And why expand the song to 18 minutes? For a few extra solos and a silly ending? I don’t think this will be the last bad call from Neil unfortunately, they are becoming common place….


Also, see "Ordinary People" lyric analysis.


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50 Comments:

At 9/15/2007 07:13:00 PM, Blogger Ben said...

Definitely a lot of truth in there from somebody who obviously loves Neil and isn't just a basher.

That said, anything new is exciting.

 
At 9/15/2007 07:26:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Ben.

Hennypecker knows his Neil and his comments are carefully thought out.

I would have been content to get an all new disc and keep the others for the Archives.

Yes, I am THAT patient!

 
At 9/15/2007 07:31:00 PM, Anonymous Harvey said...

I agree with this person to an extent, but it's not as though these "questionable" decisions only started after Briggs kicked it. His whole career has been a long series of questionable decisions, fer chrissakes.

The problem with Neil's recent work, in my opinion, is laziness... and an attention span that seems to get shorter and shorter with each passing year. There are times when he comes close to achieving his former genius... but he doesn't, because he's not willing to put in the time anymore.

 
At 9/16/2007 04:20:00 AM, Anonymous Yohay said...

Very interesting comments indeed. I must say that I disagree with the last comment. I drool on lengthy live versions of songs, and I enjoy the solos.

 
At 9/16/2007 09:30:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

With all due respect to the late David Briggs and Neil's reverence for the man, Neil has made a career and life out of not doing what people expect. And interestingly, some of his 'mistakes'(though not all) take on a mythical and corrected air with the passage of time. (Case in point - a twenty minute live version of "Change Your Mind" late one October night at a Bridge show.)Just watching the man perform "Human Highway" last weekend at Farm Aid was enough to reassure me that he still has some kick left in him. His appeal has been firmly planted in a willingness to both stumble and soar in the process of taking a chance.

 
At 9/16/2007 09:56:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's real possible to overthink things

and Neil's work needs time and the backward glance
-- the stuff he did with the Bluenotes is great

-- Greendale will be seen as a work of genius one day

-- I like Old Ways


The man i saw at Farm Aid and the artist I listen to is amazingly prolific and consistent. He's had a very rich three or four years. It's absolutely ludicrous to call him lazy

His wanderings and "mistakes" are part of the deal -- and precious in their own right

 
At 9/16/2007 11:39:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow - another "expert" on what Neil's been doing wrong with his career for the past 40+ years. Trouble is: you've got it all wrong.

The CD2 version of OP is the ORIGINAL version - it was when he got out on tour that some idiot (probably the "infallible" Briggs who apparently hated OP anyway) persuaded Neil to muck around with the verse order and shorten it to 13 minutes.

In order to put the "Wild West" verse first, the factory factory is left empty, vandalised and taken over by squatters (verse 5) BEFORE going bankrupt (verse 6) and then, after a totally unrelated verse 7, the "fat cat" business men who caused the bankruptcy turn up in verse 8. But perhaps you've been too busy dreaming about the Wild West for the past 20 years to notice anything wrong with that.

In the original the get-rich-quick money men come first (verse 5), THEN the factory runs into problems (verse 6), verse 7 links the past with the present and the future, and finally the ordinary people reclaim the factory for the future (verse 8).

So thanks, Neil: for putting the record straight and restoring the original and correct order.

 
At 9/16/2007 11:53:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It has to be difficult to find things to write about after all these years, doesn't it? You must get to a point where there just isn't as much to write about except the outside events-at this point, 'inside' is probably a more peaceful place than it was in 1972. Personally, I like the earlier material better, but I try to understand where he's at at this point in his life, and accept the music that comes with it.

Now, one other thing-if CDII can be seen as a 'Freedom' for 2007, and Greendale and LWW were This Notes For You and Landing on Water...would it appear that the next release would be...

..a Ragged Glory?

Interesting...

 
At 9/16/2007 01:07:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How is Living With War Landing On Water? Which one is Life, then? Or American Dream? That just makes no sense at all.

 
At 9/16/2007 02:09:00 PM, Anonymous Roger P said...

After reading the musings of so many "experts" I find myself wondering why anyone speculates when it only serves oneself to stab at the wind with a "guess" and hope that they can later stand up to claim their "expertise". I much prefer going out, buying a New CD Release of one of my all time favourite Artists and deciding at the point of listening "hey, this F$@*in' ROCKS!" or "hmm, Neil is getting more mindful of his own Mortality" if songs lean towards a Prairie Wind type of Album...after hearing it...and not before like so many of these "Profits".
Sit back...listen...enjoy...or don't. Save the "Predictions" for Nostrdomus.

 
At 9/16/2007 02:10:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dude, it's fucking Neil and well I love ordinary people, it's got great solo's and it is a vibrant song that gets into a deep groove. I MEAN IT'S FUCKING NEIL MAN... NEIL! Yah, I think the song kicks ass, but what do I know, I just love music, I guess I could sit around all day and nitpic about what I think an artist should do because obviously I am the one who would know right. I'm surprised Neil didn't call you and ask you for advice dude. I mean clearly you are a very important person and your opinion matters so much, haha. Dude, you either like music or you don't, if an artist you like doesn't do what you like anymore well... that is too bad, I guess in your little fantasy land what you think actually matters to others, hahahahaha. I'm sorry, but reall... really. I mean shit if you like his old stuff then listen to it. I mean what the fuck, you remind me of a Metallica fan. Oh god I wish they would do this or this or this like they used to. Well I don't like Metallica's latest offerings so guess what? I don't listen to them, I listen to the old ones that I like, ahuh. Yah... WTF

 
At 9/16/2007 03:08:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

this early review of crome dreams suggests that after 40 years of making records NY kind of knows what he is doing:

Neil Young's "Chrome Dreams II" There are thousands of new CDs in the Uncut office, and John Mulvey is on a mission to find the good ones. Check Wild Mercury Sound every day for rash, ill thought-out, yet strangely trustworthy reports on the best forthcoming releases. From forthcoming blockbusters and choice reissues, to underground treasures - we hear them here first Neil Young's "Chrome Dreams II" 2007-09-14 11:46:58 Apart from a few Beach Boys and Kosmische things I picked up in America in the early ‘90s, I’ve never been much of a bootleg collector; never had the time, I guess, with so much legitimately released music to get hooked on. As a consequence, my knowledge of Neil Young’s “Chrome Dreams” was limited to hazy memories from rush-reading Jimmy McDonough’s “Shakey” until news of “Chrome Dreams II” broke a few weeks ago. Continued... I’ve heard “Chrome Dreams II” now, and I’m broadly struggling to see its connection to the first mythical set. In some ways, it’s a kind of reverse: if “Chrome Dreams” was a collection of great Neil songs that were subsequently dispersed across various disparate albums, “Chrome Dreams II” in part seems to be a collection of disparate, mainly great Neil songs that have been gathered together, somewhat belatedly. We know – thanks to the unflinchingly accurate internet, at least – that the first three songs on this new album were all written and abandoned by Young at some point in the ‘80s. “Beautiful Bluebird”, a rheumy-eyed country amble, would have featured on the original, rejected version of “Old Ways”. “Boxcar”, a twanging and discreetly propulsive train song, was part of the shelved “Times Square” set that just predated “Freedom”. There is no palpable reason why he’s sat on these two tunes for so long, but the mystery becomes more pronounced when track three arrives, and seems determined to never leave. This is “Ordinary People”, a heroically trudging narrative that lasts over 18 minutes and originates from the Bluenotes sessions circa “This Note’s For You” (if you look on Youtube, there’s some footage of Young playing the song live in 1988). My favourite Neil music has always been electric and long, with a sort of relentless, dogged purpose to it. You could probably measure the pace of “Ordinary People” in swings of a wrecking ball, but there’s a difference between this and obvious comparison tracks like “Cortez The Killer” and “Like A Hurricane”. As each verse ends and Young steps up to solo, he’s joined by a blaring horn section, who occasionally duck out for solos themselves. When the sax player moves into the spotlight, and a piano line rolls through the mix, there’s an odd echo of ‘70s E-Street Band. It’s preposterous, and fantastic. After this, the rest of the album is purportedly new music. Unlike “Living With War”, “Prairie Wind” et al, Young doesn’t stick to one style. Instead, he promiscuously wanders through a pretty wide range; it’s notable that his band here features one Crazy Horse (Ralph Molina), one Stray Gator (Ben Keith) and one Bluenote (Rick Rosas). Not all of these diversions are entirely welcome: “Shining Light” and “The Believer” have a limpid soul lilt that reminds me a little of my least favourite Neil album, “Are You Passionate?”; and the closing “The Way” nails the recurring theme of finding a path back to contentment, home, spiritual fulfilment and such, but does so with the aid of an inevitably mawkish children’s choir. “Spirit Road” tackles the same issues much better, with a rattly belligerence and massed vocals that recalls “Living With War” and the best parts of “Greendale”. There are a couple more great rock songs on “Chrome Dreams II”, too: “Dirty Old Man” is a crude-as-hell garage gruntalong that reminds me variously of “Re-Ac-Tor”, some of “Ragged Glory” and “Piece Of Crap” from “Sleeps With Angels”. Even better, “No Hidden Path” is another epic workout (a measly 11 and a half minutes, if you’re counting), that very nearly matches “Ordinary People” for gravity, sustained intensity, and the sense that Young is still uncommonly close to the top of his game. The whole thing adds up to an uncharacteristically satisfying hotch-potch. It’s a fool’s game to try and understand Neil Young’s infallibly contrary thought processes, but it sounds as if the preparation of Archives has inspired him to look at his career as a whole, to make more explicit the way it all fits together. After the righteous indignation of “Living With War”, the prevailing mood of “Chrome Dreams II” is of finding contentment. But what makes it so gripping is the number of contrasting ways that Young finds to make his point. John Mulvey

 
At 9/16/2007 05:24:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dude, like fuck dude. like dudey dude. Like fuck yeah dude. Like fuckin Neil dude. Fuck yeah! Duuude!

 
At 9/16/2007 05:44:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yah, Dude. That's right I like to say Dude. So anyway, I talk the ways I talk i guess, I mean everyone is entitled to their opinion, but really I just don't like it when people think that musicians they like owe them something. Like it just seems that whoever wrote that thinks that Neil or any other artist should cater to them. I mean I guess if your that far up your own ass that you think you know what is best for someone who has given us great music over the years, then maybe Neil should consult with you. I guess you know what is best so we should all listen. What do you think Neil should do. I'm sure he'll get right on it once you let him know. DUDE!

 
At 9/16/2007 05:45:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Bridge Change Your Mind was never a mistake. Greendale was and always will be a turkey. A curious turkey, but still a turkey. Neil has absolutely been lazy in his artistic process in recent years. Farm Aid was an embarassing example. Ditto for many recent lyrics.
Some of Neil's stuff is pure trash. It is not improved by the passage of time, except to the extent that it fades away.
There are plenty of asses posting in Neilland. But wading thru the wasteland, one finds an occasional gem.

 
At 9/16/2007 05:49:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Obviously I was not referring to DUDE when I mentioned gem. Though I do appreciate the attempt at coherence.

 
At 9/16/2007 06:29:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"How is Living With War Landing On Water? Which one is Life, then? Or American Dream? That just makes no sense at all."

Does it really have to?

I was just throwing it out there. Who knows which one is life. Are You Passionate? maybe?

 
At 9/16/2007 09:36:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the thoughtless Anonymous Dude posting the Uncut Review.
Ever heard of spoiler alert? And just provide a link?
Thanks for nothing.

 
At 9/16/2007 11:06:00 PM, Anonymous HE Pennypacker said...

So, what you're trying to say, in your dude-speak kind of way is that the Emperor's clothes look just great, they always have, and they always will. And you'll personally abuse anyone who suggests otherwise. I've never claimed to be any kind of 'Neil expert' - I'm just prepared to engage in critical analysis of his career (at the risk of being proven wrong), rather than go down that wide path that you're on - "Neil is God!", Neil kicks ass!", "Neil rocks dude!", "All Neil is great man!", "'Let's Roll' is a masterpiece!' etc etc...

 
At 9/16/2007 11:43:00 PM, Anonymous HE Pennypacker said...

In order to put the "Wild West" verse first, the factory factory is left empty, vandalised and taken over by squatters (verse 5) BEFORE going bankrupt (verse 6) and then, after a totally unrelated verse 7, the "fat cat" business men who caused the bankruptcy turn up in verse 8. But perhaps you've been too busy dreaming about the Wild West for the past 20 years to notice anything wrong with that.


Why are you so emphatic that this CD2 version is the original? Just because it was recorded in 1988? Doesn't mean he can't have edited it & overdubbed it at a later date. I can't imagine any reason why Neil would sing the verses in the order they were in the live 1988 shows, then record them in the studio in a different order (the one we get on CD2 according to you), then in two acoustic renditions in 1989 revert back to the 'original' live 1988 order. That doesn't add up...

It's only my opinion, but I don't read what you do into those verses you mention. You're assuming that the assembly workers are the same ones that worked in the empty factory, and the Rolls Royce and company car are from the same place. I don't agree. I think each verse is just a stand-alone snap shot of modern society and it's various woes...

 
At 9/17/2007 05:16:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Am I the only Neil fan that's just happy to get the chance to own more of the mans "genius".
Yes, some tracks will be brilliant , and some not so, but has that not been the case for most of his career?
We eagerly await any new release, and rush out to purchase, then spend weeks pouring over every song ,note by note. Then we choose our favourites, and dismiss the "not so favourites, always forgiving the "not so's"...because its Neil. We will then re-arrange our "Best of Neil" to include new tracks..........until the next offering.
Hey Neil...keep it comming.

 
At 9/17/2007 06:45:00 AM, Blogger roll another number said...

The only ISSUE I can possibly have with Neil Young is ticket prices.
As for music and songs and lyrics etc, he's gonna release things some of us love and some of us hate, but it's the freedom to record and release whatever he feels like it that has allowed him to continue for 40 years making great music..... BUT THE TICKET PRICES ARE A DISGRACE ! $ 157 for the best seats at most shows. NEIL IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS.NO , he doesnt set the ticket price, but he is 100% fully aware of what ticket prices are and he is fully aware of what other artists are charging for tickets, so obviously he doesnt give a damn if it costs a guy and his wife/girlfriend over $ 300 to get decent seats at his shows. I have seen Neil Young live for 35 years,and this is the only thing in all those years that truly disgusts me about what he is doing. Ticket prices are based on Neils demands for $$$ and other frills . I think Neil needs to face an empty concert hall or see a few shows cancelled for lack of sales, to wake up and look at himself. I think it's sad that after all these years of being fair to the fan base, that now he is just caring about how much $$$ he makes.

 
At 9/17/2007 11:59:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Ordinary people" is a brilliant ,intense song.Sit back and enjoy it,who cares if the verses are mixed up.Jesus !!!!

 
At 9/17/2007 01:12:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey I'm the Dude dude, and I didn't post that review. Sorry. I like the dude speak.

 
At 9/17/2007 01:21:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dude, Hennypecker is the shit. I like arguing with him, haha. I mean that in a nice way too Hennypecker, I'm not being sarcastic, you are fun to argue with and you do sound smart, but I'm just a music fan and I loves me some Neil man. I can't choose what Neil Does if I could I would have pry fucked his career up already. DUDE. Yah, anyway I do sound dumb on here, haha. OH Well. Neil does rock though!

 
At 9/17/2007 03:11:00 PM, Anonymous R P said...

First off, yes Ticket Prices are crazy but...remember what someone like Neil does, "Sponsored by Nobody", with the Cost of the Venue, now Bio Fuel it would seem for Neil and the whole Caravan, he pays for the Power used at the Venue, he pays the Band, the Road Crew, Managers/Lawyers, the Wife (hehe), shall I go on? I am sure most know this stuff but when I saw that the average ticket price for Madonna was $183.76?? (and know I wasn't looking to buy Madonna tickets HA!)I am still going to see Neil for $157. Being a Pro Musician I know the cost of Touring at a way smaller scale then the Big Guys and it still hurts sometimes...not defending the Cost but understanding. I would much sooner pay $65 but hey in the end I still choose to see Neil when I can. Just my thoughts, that's all.

 
At 9/17/2007 05:24:00 PM, Anonymous Martin Lav said...

He's got to feed his family man.
He's got to feed his crews families too. Don't pay it if you don't want to, but don't pay it then complain. Sit in the shitty seats if you can't afford it.
Henpecked, you suck. The man don't answer to you and your 2 cents aren't worth squat.
Dude....you rock!

 
At 9/17/2007 05:38:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just have to point out again....we are doing critical analysis of a soon to be 62 year old dude. This is Rock n Roll, suggesting that there are wrong career decisions in year #27 or #38 just strikes me as hilarious. If the average NFL player has a 4 year career then the average rock star is about 28 minutes. There are some folks in this site who are a gripping it a little tight. I relish calling up my buddy and crucifying some tune that is not up there in our humble opinion. We call Neil all sorts of names and then go listen to the record 400 times until it resonates. By the way "Such a Woman" has yet to resonate. In the end it sounds like we are gonna have another 3 or 4 gems on this record. I will put it in the bank and call it good. Maybe even heckle Neil at the Denver shows - after all I am gonna pony up a couple hundred bucks - it is the least I can do.

 
At 9/18/2007 01:22:00 AM, Anonymous Kimball from USA said...

Ticket Prices. If you want to go, pay it, if not don't. Free market, they'll charge what they can. The money gets split a million ways anyways. I payed $341 to see Neil back to back nights in Chicago on the upcoming tour. Couldn't be happier. I'm willing to pay what he charges. If it were cheaper, I'd just get stupid and go to more shows around me. Everyone chill out and enjoy the new music. He's a legend. My life wouldn't be nearly as full without his music making everything bloom together. He's a blessing to all who take the time to appreciate his gift to us.

 
At 9/18/2007 02:51:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Hennypecker and others.

"Chrome Dreams II' is an awkward name for an album, and "Ordinary People" already had a perfectly fine life as a bootleg cut. Though one could argue that it's a logical follow-up to the songs from LWW.

Neil's been on a major stinkaroo streak since...oh, let's say Broken Arrow. But I still check out every new record and I savor the old ones.

Neil clearly makes music for himself first, which is as it should be. But the idea that we listeners can't make judgements about what we like and what we don't is just silly.

And yep, I ponied up more than $300 so my wie and I can see him. He is the only musician I'd spend that kind of cash to see. Inconsistent or not, lazy or not, the man towers and is never boring (except on "Prairie Wind." Zzzzzzzzzzzzz.),

 
At 9/18/2007 06:39:00 AM, Blogger roll another number said...

Yes, I know there are many expenses in touring, but other people have more or less the same expenses.....and Neil is touring with a small band. Feed his family ? I don't think he has to worry about that !
Madonna @ $ 183. yeah, and we all know Madonna is bullshit. She's not an artist.she's a commercial "pop star" who is only in it for the money.Neil is supposed to be above that and better than that, yet he is charges prices in the same league as Madonna.What does that say ?
Or are we paying an extra $ 65 to see Pegi ?
Theres alot of other folks touring with big names and followings like Neils, yet I see prices in the $ 60-75 range for most. And simply, if you have an old ticket stub from Neil in 1973, 1976 or say 1978..... look at the price and then apply the rate of inflation for all the years in between....and you will probably end up in the $ 60-75 range.So, simply , he has changed and is basicaly charging double what he used to charge for tickets.
And it's not a matter of what I can afford. It's just being very disapointed in non-commercial Neil, the guy who begs to be different than the greedy, money hungry pop stars......who decided
it;s time to get greedy and screw his fans out of as much money as possible.
And lastly, it is hard to believe anyone is defending his ticket prices.It's bullshit and most of my "Neil" friends know it and I dont hear anyone I have talked to about it, defend his prices. It's just a different attitude Neil has now towards his fans, and that's the sad, disapointing part.

 
At 9/18/2007 06:01:00 PM, Anonymous R P said...

Still forgetting that most "artists" have a Sponsor behind them..Neil does not, and also to compare the price of the Madonna ticket is more then justified because they is charging that price playing Venues that are far larger then these current Theatres Neil is Touring, if you figure out a $100 average ticket to cover the different prices then figure a 4000 Seat Venue a Show gets, you guessed it $400,000 (not the insane amount most seem to think. Anyway, not worth the effort of typing things that seem so apparent yet need stating...so, yeah...whatever! lol

 
At 9/18/2007 10:17:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm.. The Bridge Change Your Mind was never a mistake but Greendale a curious turkey? And you were, of course, in Mountain View that night. What does a professional hair-splitter and ass-caller make for a living these days? Im-plor-ing youuu....

 
At 9/19/2007 12:25:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm 29 years old and moving to LA in a couple weeks and priced out for this tour at the LA stop. 257 to 900 bucks?!?! Sorry, can't afford one ticket let alone 2 for me and my girl. Guess I'll wait for the next summer tour and get some lawn seats again. If he never plays a pavillion again I'll wait another 5 years when I'm making more money and he's what, 70?

I really think Briggs was right about Neil and the Ordinary man, now more than ever. It's one thing to watch CNN and know about the war and healthcare, its another thing to live amongst the people and know their views on the headlines and everyday struggles. These tickets costs are an indication.

I also agree with the fact that he's become lazier these days by not writing songs in advance of recording sessions. All of his albums could have been GREAT since Silver and Gold but instead they've been OK to Pretty Good. If he's focused on his family and home life thats cool, just spend time writing a solid album that'll be timeless and release less. I doubt we'll hear too many Prairie Wind songs live in the future or Are You Passionate, and thats fine by me. Seems he and we excited about the concepts of his recent output (R&B record, concept record, country record about family and anti war rock record) but the results havent lived up to the promise with poor planning and execution aka songwriting.

Im suposed to get excited by a project he spent a week on, buy the cd, then pay 250 bucks to see the show?

very disapointed.

$killit

 
At 9/19/2007 03:45:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good points, Skillit. I'm sure this has been covered by people wiser than me in the ways and history of Neil, but I think Briggs' death is a watershed. As I understand it, Briggs' mantra was "The more you think, the more you stink," and it seems Neil has really taken that to heart since his friend's death. He seems to want to capture the ideas as soon as they come to mind, without much editing. I don't think that works. Revising is the hard part of creation. It's not as sexy as just being a conduit for the muse, but, except in those rare instances when something excellent presents itself fully formed, it's necessary. Much of Neil's recent work seems a little too...unconsidered. As for ticket prices, I suspect that's got Elliott all over it. Neil has always been happy to make a buck, and in that regard he's no different from most of us.

 
At 9/19/2007 08:28:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will always be a fan; there's no question there. I feel that while there have been some good moments over the last few albums, things have become a little too "literal"-which, in and of itself, is not a problem. It's when you realize there aren't any lines such as "purple words on a gray background" or "I took from her the love I'd won, and turned it to the sky" that you begin to realize what the difference is. I will still take Greendale or Living With War over ANYthing on commercial radio; when it comes to Neil though, I generally prefer the earlier material.

 
At 9/19/2007 08:46:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dontcha just love the contortions people will go through to explain why Neil's not responsible for the cost of tickets to his shows? It's Elliott. It's the crew's families. It's Reprise. I guess Pearl Jam and Dylan don't have crews.He can charge whatevr he wants, but he cannot stick it to people and then credibly sing his lame song- that he was too lazy to flippin rerecord- about how he has faith in the ordinary out of work struggling people.
Neil's been the greedy hand for some years now, pretty much paralleling his creative decline.
But as for this album, you need to understand that this is just something to put out so Pegi can open a tour. This isn't about OP or CDII. Neil thinks he can make Pegi a successful recording artist. And given that most of his fans will buy whatever lame thing he's selling, he'll probably succeed. They- the fans- have made it abundantly clear in recent years that quality doesn't matter.
By yhe way, Greendale was one enormous turkey. Thank god he didn't ever follow through with Greeddale II.

 
At 9/19/2007 08:57:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sittin this tour out. Too hypocritical for me. I've paid top dollar before, but I do believe I've had enough. And I've heard Pegi sing many times already. No need for that kind of abuse.

 
At 9/20/2007 12:11:00 PM, Anonymous Harvey said...

I actually got tickets to massey hall... right smack in the middle of the first balcony, which is pretty good considering the size of the venue.

It'll be my first time seeing neil... so the price doesn't matter. I wasn't willing to pay for floor seats though.

 
At 9/20/2007 02:08:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the anonymous who suggests that this tour is merely a way for Neil to get Pegi in front of the masses: I agree with your point that people (myself included) contort to find lots of reasons other than abject greed to explain Neil's high ticket prices and apparent "cashing in" of late. But the idea that the new album and the tour are all just a springboard to launch Pegi to stardom is an even greater contortion. That's just crazy talk, and here's only one reason why: Neil (like a lot of artists of his stature, and, come to think of it, like most of us) has a colossal ego. You think he's really that interested in sharing the limelight with his wife? No way. I'm sure he loves having her sing backup. And he probably thinks it's family-riffic and swell to have her open. But to actually share any meaningful portion of the glory? No way, man. His standing, his legacy as an artist, comes first. In that relationship, he's the "special one" and he's not about to share. That's my bet. Why would he sacrifice all that he's achieved just to get his modestly talented wife a little fame and fortune? Nobody could be that lovestruck. (John and Yoko aside).

 
At 9/20/2007 04:15:00 PM, Anonymous Bored with ya said...

"So all you critics sit alone
You're no better than me
for what you've shown.
With your stomach pump and
your hook and ladder dreams
We could get together
for some scenes."
Go to a Concert or don't, beyond that...who cares whatca think? lol

 
At 9/20/2007 04:31:00 PM, Anonymous Martin Lav said...

I'll be seeing Neil at the Bridge School in a few weeks. Cost me 38 bucks to lay on a blanket on the grass. A full night of entertainment with my money going to a good cause.
Seems worth it to me.
Seems generous of Neil.
Seems generous of all associated with him as well.
I think I heard Neil with CSN for $40 bucks and my own old blanket.
Bootlegs?
Isn't that stealing or did you pay Neil for that music?
Who are you to whine about his ticket prices? Either pay it or don't, but it seems to me that someone should be able to earn a living and if he were such a huge sellout, I think he could think of more ways than ticket prices at some small venues to "rip" off his fans. Some fans!
See you on the lawn with the ordinary people.....

 
At 9/20/2007 07:56:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Considering the off the wall ticket price, and the fact we have to listen to Pegi Young for an hour, the least he can do is have Pegi perform topless !

 
At 9/20/2007 09:07:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Your all just pissin in the wind, you don't know it, but you are."

-Dude

 
At 9/21/2007 04:51:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Man o man - Somebody do me a favor and point out on their ticket stub where its says you must watch the warm up act. I am pissed off when Neil has somebody open for him and generally do not watch the opening act - not because they suck but because I am in a Neil mood. DON'T WATCH PEGI IF YOU HAVE SUCH A HARD ON FOR HER - WHO CARES?

Secondly, I love this analysis paralysis around Neil taking multiple cracks at the creative process. How many legendary songs were written on the fly - we have all seen original notes and scribbles and entire songs written and left virtually untouched. We have seen evidence of this from day 1. This idea that neil is any lazier then he ever was is just not supported with facts. Oops I take that back Sugar Mountain and Last Trip to Tulsa are finely crafted - every word a nuance and every verse a riddle....sure.

These tickets are market rate and it costs too much to see a show these days, especially when you are seeing a legend. Singling Neil out is every bit as much bullshit as placing the guy on a pedestal.

 
At 9/21/2007 06:31:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

First post on an awesome and enlightening web-site.
Been a massive NY fan for last 6/7 years, seen him 4 times(SHEFFIELD, MANCHESTER, LONDON, PARIS), and never am I disappointed. His music lifts when low, places you back down to earth when you're on a high and fills in the rest by having a magical flair and knowing (modesty & youthful shyness preventing, of course) brilliance.
Sorry this post ain't concentrated on the particular (roaming) thread but sometimes I get so full of NY that it's difficult not to share. I've converted my fiance to a huge fan by doing very little.
Thanks to Rust Radio - Genius.

Here's to Stella number 3 (slammin' down a late night shot)


CC

 
At 9/22/2007 09:15:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes! Debate! Free speech! Shit-slinging! Wind-pissing! People (like me!) going on and on about things they know nothing about! I love it! Thanks to you all for the good, pointed conversation, which gives me something to do and keeps me off the Internet porn while I wait for Neil to show up and CDII to come out.

I must say touche to the dude (or dudette) who pointed out that many of Neil's songs have been written on the fly, but, in my opinion, his old off-the-cuff stuff was just stronger (maybe because it was at least fresh) than the latest stuff. I don't pout the man on a pedestal at all, which is why I enjoy calling bullshit when he puts out something that is (in my estimation) half-assed.

But who cares. It's going to be a Dylan-Neil-Springsteen filled autum, and that works for me, regardless of how much each of them might blow at various pionts in their careers.

Have fun, everybody.

 
At 10/18/2007 03:50:00 PM, Blogger Thrasher said...

The following comments were moved from Neil Young Tour Kicks Off thread and are off topic. Since they involved OP this seemed the best place to park. Please try and stay on-topic. Thanks!

At 10/17/2007 11:31:00 PM, Dan said...

Hi Thrasher, thanks for all of the valuable info. I wanted to run the following idea by Neil, and was looking for suggestions on how to pass on the message?

Millions of 'Ordinary People' in the US are losing (or are in danger of losing) their homes now due to the current housing crisis and teaser morgage resets.

It might be fitting for Neil to break out his old classic, " This Old House" for the Chrome Dreams tour. He played it during the '85 and '89 tours. Seems appropriate for the times. Looking forward to seeing him in NYC 12/13!

At 10/18/2007 07:04:00 AM, Anonymous said...

Dan,
Your definition of "Ordinary People" are folks that obtained a variable interest rate because of greed. They signed an agreement, the rates went up and now they have to pay.

That's not a crisis Dan. That's poor planning and requires no bailout from the rest of us hardworking "ORDINARY" people who did not gamble and loose.

That poor planning is not my responsibility nor the governments to bail out.


You liberals never see things for what they are. Wake up please.

Fred.

At 10/18/2007 11:33:00 AM, Martin Lav said...

Fred you might be a little bit right, but unfortunately a lot of ordinary people get bamboozled by supposedly educated people that push these types of loans. While there certainly a case to be made about educating oneself and not having the government regulate everything, there's a lot of people that are taken advantage of and maybe a little empathy is warranted. Oh and by the way, is the Fed Chief "bailing" out the banks just a bunch of liberals whining? Why is Paulson calling for reform in the lending industry?
He must have seen their peddling of these loans as some sort of accountability issue. Didn't get his attention though until his buddies in the banking industry started to take the hits through their SIV conduits.

At 10/18/2007 11:42:00 AM, Anonymous said...

Thrasher-

Could not get the info without you - can't wait to see the songlist and stoked out of my gord for the Denver shows.

Yo Fab Five Freddy - the previous poster did not call for a governemnt bail out, did not say it was anyones fault - just thought it would be appropriate to play the song. When a couple hundred thousand folks are losing their homes it is a crisis. I also think there is a huge difference between greed and education. A whole bunch of folks were just trying to do the best they could and got some bad advice. You righties should occasionally try something called empathy - it is free and generally a nice sentiment to express or you could just continue to be dicks. Go listen to This Old House and see if it resonates, see if it rekindles any sympathy for someone who did not properly read all 400 pages of legalese in their loan agreements. mark in denver.

At 10/18/2007 12:11:00 PM, Anonymous said...

Is this an economics class or a Neil Young board?

At 10/18/2007 01:05:00 PM, dan said...

Fred,

From my viewpoint This Old House is about ordinary people facing the devastation of losing their homes to foreclosure. Neil so eloquently captures this sentiment in a way that only Neil can:

This old house of ours
Is built on dreams
And a businessman don't know
What that means.
There's a garden outside
She works in every day
And tomorrow morning
A man from the bank's
Gonna come and take it all away.

Unfortunately a lot of regular folks are facing this nightmare now in America. Many honest people were sold mortgage products that were unsuitable for their situation and now they’re suffering. (That’s not to say they don’t share any responsibility but it’s mighty sad.)

One such story appeared yesterday (10/17) on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, describing how Roger Rodriguez, a hard working truck driver from Colorado, took an adjustable rate mortgage in 2004 to consolidate some of his debts. Fast forward to 2007, after he lost his job and faced a re-set on his mortgage, the bank foreclosed on his house and he, his wife, and two grand daughters were evicted from the home they've lived in for 22 years. I think this type of story -honest, hard working folks losing their homes - is sadly playing out across the country.

I’m actually pretty far to the right, just felt that the song really captures the times (reminds me of when Neil brought back Ohio after the Tiananmen Square massacre).

Another post said it really eloquently – at the very least we should have some empathy –If Neil breaks out a song like This Old House I doubt there will be a hardened heart in that hall when he’s done, you included.

 
At 10/19/2007 09:18:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ok-let me tell you about farmers.

Neil paints this pretty picture about the poor farmer that's out there plowing with a mule and working his fingers to the bone.

He's WRONG. The simple truth is, the inherited the land they work. Have you EVER heard of a guy who purchased a farm (not a vineyard) that was from the city besides Oliver Douglas?

They receive subsidies from the government NOT to grow certain types of crops and grow stuff nobody needs anyway. This is not a natural function of capitalism and that's why it's wrecked.

Also, and I have Farmer relatives and worked on many myself. They have tons of equipment that they borrow on that will NEVER be paid off. It's simply not a business that is profitable for the single family farmer anymore.

Sorry, but that's the truth. But WAIT. Farmer brown can sell his equipment but more importantly HIS FRICKEN THOUSAND ACRE PLOTS for a mall or a subdivision and retire a wealthy man.

So boo fricken hoo!

While Neil's ideas contain merit and he means well, they are ridiculous. Enjoy the music "for what it's worth" you folks are reading WAY too much in his lyrics.

Just remember, he's got to use a word that RHYMES!

Fred

 
At 4/19/2009 06:25:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Obviously, this thread has been "dead" for a while, but nonetheless, even years afterwards, its has been interesting to read.

What it basically seems a lot of people were doing was criticizing an album which, at the time, had yet to come out, based on rumors or, at most, images of the cover art, which is a bit ridiculous in my opinion. Save the opinions for when you've heard the album-- don't judge whether Ordinary People belongs on CDII until you have heard it in sequence with the other tracks, and don't judge if the verses work in a particular order until you've heard them that way, not just read them on a page.

However, the question of whether then-twenty-year-old recording like Ordinary People belongs on CDII is certainly a valid one for debate, as is the question of the verse order and how it affects the song as a whole. CDII was not the first time Neil dug up old recordings for an album. In fact, some of his most successful releases have contained material recorded long before it was released: Rust Never Sleeps, contains several songs from the unreleased original Chrome Dreams I. American Stars 'n' Bars, a rather underrated album, is a regular hodge-podge of tracks recorded at different times throughout the early to mid '70s, including Like a Hurricane, which was first recorded during rehearsals for a Crazy Horse tour in about 1974, and was also slated for release on Chrome Dreams I, and Homegrown, the title track of another unreleased album from about 1976.

Moreover, half of Hawks and Doves--arguably the better half--was recorded in 1974-75, at least five years before the album was released. Material from the aborted Chrome Dreams I continued to appear for years, tracks from the old Chrome Dreams I tapes continued to crop up, with Too far Gone on Freedom, in 1989, and Stringman on Unplugged in 1993. So dusting off old tracks is nothing new for Neil. Neither does it necessarily indicate a lack of inspiration or laziness. Often these are "old but good", as the alien from Ride my Llama would say.

Lots of Neil's albums are essentially concept recordings, even if not billed as such. A concept album does not necessarily have to tell a story; it can simply relate a mood or feeling, focus on a subject, or even relate to the structure and assembly on an album. CDII can said to be one of these albums that is structurally conceptual: three tracks are old material, dusted, and seven were newly written and recorded for the album. I think it is no coincidence that the older songs are the first three on the album.

I have also seen footage of '80s live performances of this song--bootlegs on Youtube--and think the lyrics make more sense in the order CDII presents them. You have the verse with the out-of-work models and the fashion slave--who didn't even get into the business at all presumably--introducing the theme of snapshots of different types of people in society, and the degradation theme is also set-up, with the boxing match on TV, which appears to me to be metaphorical of politicians and leaders who, for one reason or another, make bad choices. Sometimes the government's decisions are working and society is in good shape; sometimes not.

Specific people are then examined-- society's underachievers: crooks, swindlers, people who will do anything for a quick buck. They live off the people. Their existence would signify a degradation in society as a whole. The following verses then show how an entire society can go down this road through corruption, greed, and the complacence of the people; when the people are "living in a dream", and are brainwashed for too long by the powerful into thinking nothing is wrong. But the song ends with Neil broadcasting his faith in the "ordinary people" in our great democratic society to make changes for the better when things have gone downhill.

The song is simply more powerful with the "Down at the factory" verse placed penultimately. The musical construction suggests a pace and sequence in accordance with what is heard on CDII: after verse four and before verse five, it appears that a new section of sorts is starting as the chord progression is replayed, and the song does indeed go in a different direction than the previous verses suggest it would. This is used again before the last verse. I think the recording as a whole is a testament to the genius of Neil's art and musically, I can see why he wanted it released.

As far as the possibility of overdubs altering the verse order--why got to the trouble? And if he wanted to alter the original recording at all, wouldn't he have gotten rid of some of the slightly sloppy background vocals and especially the very dated keyboard? I know Neil is unpredictable and has made some odd decisions--that's the whole point of this thread--but Ordinary People on CDII really doesn't sound to me like a recording that's been altered after the fact of its being committed to tape.

Further, Neil just doesn't sound the same vocally on that recording as he does on the rest of the album. It's not hugely noticeable, but if you really listen, you can tell his voice has aged on the other recordings; on OP, he sounds more aggressive, edgier, a bit more like the young Neil of the '70s. I think we'd be able to tell the difference between a Neil vocal recorded in the late '80s and one recorded in 2007; there'd be a discrepancy. Everyone, and Neil in particular doesn't seem to have quite the upper range he used to. There is something different about his tone in more recent recordings, not better or worse, just different.

The ending of OP? It's cool. Would you rather a dull fade-out. The original poster seems convinced that live recordings are the original and this studio version was recorded later, which is understandable because he or she heard those live recordings first. No one knows exactly when this version was recorded, but presumably it was right around the time of the This Note's for You sessions, as it involves the same musicians and has the same sound. I'd be surprised that Neil would lay down such a near-perfected recording of OP as this and go and alter the whole thing live, but I'm also surprised if he went back into the studio with the blue notes and cut it after the tour. Didn't he drop them very quickly afterwards?

Whatever its origins and merits, this is the recording of OP we are left with by Neil and I for one think it's pretty darned good. For that matter, I think Chrome Dreams II is a *very* good album, one of the best things Neil has done in years, and this song sits well among the others on the album, at least as well as it should. The album is intentionally loosely connected, being a mix of all different styles of music, the compositions recorded at different points in time. It is a composite of material, just like Chrome Dreams I. And I like that: I enjoy the variety of material, and after all, Neil is a "changer of the ways he talks."

Many would see a lack of strong unity as a weakness on an album, but I like the idea of assembling different types of recordings and putting them out without a lot of emphasis put on a shared tight focus. This allows the songs themselves to be the focus: the issue becomes one purely of how strong they are in their own rights, and not how they work as a unit. Embrace the disunity!

 

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