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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

"Ordinary People" Previewed on Rust Radio

"Ordinary People" from Chrome Dreams II is now streaming on Rust Radio.

The lyrics for 2007 "Ordinary People" appear to be the same as the 1988 lyrics except the verses have been re-arranged.

There's been a fair amount of discussion over on Rust about whether the Chrome Dreams II is a true 2007 studio version or some hybrid 1988 version. On first listen, it strikes Thrasher that this is all 2007. Although on second listen, it does seem that the background vocals are more in line with the 1988 era. Also, given that the lyrics are the same, it seems most likely this is a 1988 studio recording. But hey, decide for yourself.

Also, Rust Radio is playing 1988 Bluenote tour versions like the acoustic Sydney, Australia (1989-04-18) and Darien Lake (1988-08-19). When listening to the live version side-by-side with the studio version it quickly becomes evident that there's no comparison in terms of passion and intensity. Neil seems possessed and outraged performing OP live while giving it a more straightforward interpretation in the studio. Like Simpson commented: "LIVE MUSIC IS BETTER!" One can only hope that the Fall tour will reveal "Ordinary People" in all of it's true glory.

We've always been a big proponent of "Ordinary People" writing back in 1995 that the song is "the greatest unreleased Neil Young song ever and - should 'Ordinary People' ever be released - is destined to become another classic."


At 9/12/2007 09:10:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that there's no comparison to the studio and live version. Live OP rocks! Hopefully we'll get a live OP on Vol#3 of the Archives in 2018.

At 9/12/2007 09:27:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I listened to the stream at, and the keyboards in particular sound similar to those on the Bluenotes tracks from "Freedom". I couldn't decide if the vocal was new or 1988/89. Either way I'm glad there's a clean version on the way.

At 9/12/2007 10:05:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm pretty convinced this is a 2007 version. It's not as forceful as the 88 version which makes me feel that the style fits more with Neil being in a more low key mode with the studio band he has now with Rosas and Ben.

At 9/12/2007 10:06:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

On Rolling Stone it says it was first recorded in the 80's. I personally think this sounds very 2007ish...however I could be wrong. And this could be how the song sounded before he ever went on tour with it but who knows. I'm sure we'll find out for sure when we get the album.

And at first I said I was disappointed but after listening about 3 times I'm warming up to it. Same thing happened to me with Greendale...haha.

At 9/12/2007 10:14:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's is no way this a '07 recording. If he recorded this recently, why we would he keep Lee Iaccoco? Wouldn't he use some other contemporary corporate villian/vulture?

At 9/13/2007 04:06:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the horn section is sampled from an '88 studio version. The singing is NOT from '88, I think.

At 9/13/2007 06:05:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Definitely a 2007 vocal.

At 9/13/2007 06:16:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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….

At 9/13/2007 08:25:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As somebody that doesn't own every Neil show since 1932, i think Ordinary People sounds amazing from the first listen as it stands as a 2007 recording. I'm sure at some point (Archives 3) i will hear the 1988 version and it will blow me away but for now this is amazing (as i'm sure it will be to anyone that isn't bogged down by 20 previous versions of it).

At 9/13/2007 09:03:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

IMO it's a refurbished song, kind of like he took an older car and did some repainting and replaced some components, appropriate for the tinkering going on in a garage. I think the core is old, but he added on some newer guitar bits. Perhaps that "windshield wiper guitar", also the distinct hand- brushing-the-strings sound.

The song is very Springsteen. The strange days in the USA narrative/saga, the horns, the chimes and the Spectorish big room echo.


At 9/13/2007 12:01:00 PM, Blogger Inverarity said...

I can't believe he changed "living in a nightmare and they don't know how they got there" to "living in a dream and they don't know what it means." They're both cliches, yeah, but the former had kick.

This sounds just like a Freedom recording to me. Those keyboards in 2007? Get out!

At 9/13/2007 12:52:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm just astounded at all the people who think this is a new recording. I'm astounded that people think he could record it like that these days. I feel like I'm on Mars or something with a bunch of blubbering idiots. I have to say I've lost alot of respect for the Neil community. That song is deep in a groove. That is not a one-off. You do not work horns up like that for one song. That voice is so obviously a much younger Neil. It's so obviously a younger person's energy. I clearly hear Pancho on it. The whole sound is so 80's it gives me flashbacks of bad hair and bad clothes. I can't believe I'm even having to try to explain it. I'm shocked that all these so-called hard-core Neil fans think it may have been recorded this summer. What kind of fantasy are people living in? No wonder the world's such a fuckin mess. People are fuckin clueless.

At 9/13/2007 01:08:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with much of what pennypacker said. Neil's been making bad call after bad call. Because his world today is a bubble full of folks saying how wonderful everything is. Bleeech! He'll undoubtedly get it together for a good tour because he's been getting some flak from the online community and because he's gotta put the sheen on a mediocre release. But it's too late for the album. That's already said and done. This is gonna be another hum-drum record. When Rolling Stone calls OP the highlight, well, it isn't that high and it's all downhill from there.

At 9/13/2007 01:28:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having listened to Ordinary People a few times over at, I feel pretty confident that this is a mix between the studio version from 88 and the new session. That's definitely not Ralhpie on drums-sounds more Chad-ish to me, and the sax-solo sounds very much like the late Steve Lawrence. And I really don't think he would've used that particular keyboard-sound today.

However, I think the vocals and the guitar tracks are new-Neil played and sounded differently 20 years ago, and the rythm guitar reminds me of the funny way Ben plays guitar in the Red Rocks-dvd, so I think that's him, and not Poncho. Of course, I might be totally wrong on this, and awaits official info with anticipation.

I've got lots of Bluenotes-bootlegs, so I've heard the live-OP many times. As for this particular version of the song, I think it's killer!!! Neil really plays and sings his heart out, and I love the solos! It's also pretty funny when he sings "Some are saints and some are jerks" and then shouts "That's me" in the background. Can't wait 'til Chrome Dreams II hits the stores!!

At 9/13/2007 03:19:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok....couple of things I can point out right off the bat. During the Bluenotes tour, Neil used a Silvertone amp, which (if you're a guitar player) sounds worlds apart from his usual M.O., the 50's Fender Deluxe. The version over on Rolling, is clearly the Fender Deluxe. The Silvertone has a much more fluid bluesier tone than the choppy crunchy chugg of the Fender. On all the previous bootlegs, the solo's were all the same notes....just played more intensely each time he solo'd as the song progressed. The solo's on the new recording sounds like he was trying to remember that "cool lick" he had back then...but couldn't, so he just played something kinda similar in that same E minor scale. The vocals have a Dylan-esque talk-n-sing quality to them, which is something I've noticed him doing more and more on his recordings from this decade...meaning, he'd sing the verse, but the last couple of words were spoken instead of sung without a note ringing out. That's definately 2000's era Neil. I think that the background horn section and the keyboards are from the 80's, but the LEAD sax solo's were overdubbed this year, just like the guitars (and it's not too hard to get a sax player up to a mic and let it rip, so it's more than totally possible). The drums could go either's not like he uses Neal Peart's and John Bonham's, so wether it's Chad or's apple's and oranges there. Although - it's MIGHTY hard to over-dub drums over an old chances are, these are the drums from an 80's recording. So bottom line, my prediction is: Guitars, lead vocals, and lead/solo sax were done in 2007. The drums, rhythm horns, bass, and keys were recorded back in the 80's. As for the switching up dont know Neil after all these years? c'mon....of course he's gonna switch up the verses! there's no point to. and that's why he does it.

At 9/13/2007 03:36:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The drums are definitely played by Chad Cromwell. There are fills that Ralph would never play.

At 9/13/2007 03:46:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It sounds very 1988 to me. This is truly a classic. I'm waiting for the official release!

At 9/13/2007 04:02:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

At about 5:14 in OP he sings what sounds like "internet people, takin' the law ....". The word is certainly not "vigilante", IMO. Actually, his voice sort of drops out and the word, whatever it is, is voiced by the background singer, whoever that is. Perhaps he knew this whole kerfuffle would arise amongst all us internet people.


At 9/13/2007 04:18:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Retraction: What I just posted about "internet people" and "vigilante people' has been conclusively disproved by the version now up at rolling stone. He clearly says "vigilante". The mp3 from the radio broadcast sounds different, but I'll chalk it up to sound reproduction issues.

I'd be embarrassed, but hey, this is the internets.


At 9/14/2007 04:34:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's a good song, but very dated (what's with the keyboards, and is Lee Iacocca relevant?). It should have been released on "Freedom" in '89, or saved for the Archives as a relic. Can't wait for the tour, though. Gotta see him while we can, right?


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