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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Comment of the Moment: Who's Really Washed Up?

Just an unbelievable amount of emotion stirred up earlier this week on reports that Neil Young is washed up based on inaccurate reporting on an unreleased album. Here's a mighty fine comment by Keith B.:
I'd like to throw in my 2 cents on the "Neil has lost it and where is my nostalgia package" controversy:

Bob Dylan and Neil Young are definitely rolling at a time in life when most of us are slowing, and no one else their age is at that level.

To me Bob and Neil stand alone

One has sheer intellect and poetic ability that towers above all others

The other the biggest heart

Bob makes brain food

Neil makes soul food

Hell, no one of any age in pop/folk/rock music is in their league

Neil and Bob go out on very long limbs -- like Christian conversion or "Trans"

That's part of genius. You have to wander -- follow the muse.

The fan need not like everything an artist does equally, but he is always interested in what the artist is doing and has to say, and a true fan supports the wandering and limb walking:

Some people think music is only what is familiar and warm and fuzzy

That's childish and its anti-art

50 years from now, someone will pick up Greendale and say, "Wow, that's amazing."

It's a work of guts and genius

But most people don't see that

The old songs have resonance because of the years and the chance for the songs to develop lives of their own

Consider the cover of It's Only a Dream, from Prairie Wind. I think it is just as good a song as the classic ones, but it is still a baby

This guy is now doing whole suites of songs that hang together -- P. Wind; Greendale, and Living with War -- and the whole thing is the piece. It's all one song.

It's even harder to write a suite than a song

Plus Chrome Dreams has No Hidden Path, Bluebird, and Boxcar -- all A-1 songs. I listen to that album a lot

It's just the opposite of what all you critics say. You just don't get it. The dude is at his peak

--- and, P.S. Fork in the Road is hilarious

Long, long may he run

See background on why some feel that Neil Young is washed up while others still stand by their man.


At 2/23/2009 12:55:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rob Harvilla, the guy that started all this nonsense in the Village sounds like he was trying to be make some noise by bagging Neil's new songs and the mainstream media and gullible bloggers fell for it like flies on sherbert (to quote Alex Chilton). How about we listen the album when it is released on 31March before we decide if we like it or not?


At 2/23/2009 03:48:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Plus Chrome Dreams has No Hidden Path, Bluebird, and Boxcar -- all A-1 songs. I listen to that album a lot

It's just the opposite of what all you critics say. You just don't get it. The dude is at his peak

If 'the dude' is at his peak, why did he need to include Bluebird & Boxcar then? And Ordinary People for that matter? 20+ year old songs don't get included in an artist is 'at his peak'...

At 2/23/2009 04:58:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

HMMM...I have never heard about any 'rules' about what to do and what not to do when your on your peak.

I dont get this dichotomy( Neil washout - Neil peak).

Only extremists and dogmatic people deal in absolutes - and shurely no Neil fan is an extrimist?:)

To me, Neil is just being Neil, whether I like it or not. I wouldnt whant it any other way.

Maybe the reason for the many reactions on this topic is that Neil seems to stand for an ideal, that a lot of folks really belive in. And somehow, somewhere, somebody got the idea that Neil betrayd those ideals.

I dont know if this is true, but my guess is that the ideals that some folks ascribe to Neil, are in fact their own, and not something that Neil magically invented and preaches around the world.
Not saying that Neil doesnt believe in anything, im shure he does. But when people listen to his music, I believe that they(I) hear what they(I) whant to hear.

This is not at negative thing, but beautiful and shows the power music has on the individual.

The point of this is, that you can not really talk of a 'peaking' or 'not peaking' Neil Young, but instead talk or discuss the values that some(all ?) folks ascribe to him and his music. And whether or not these values or ideals are wrong or right, why they are there...and so on.

That is what I put in the line ...'keep on bloggin' till the power runs out'.
I think what I'm trying to say is, what Neil is trying to do is to get alot of folks to talk to each other, but not about him as much the topics of his music and the ideals and values that people ascribe.


At 2/23/2009 07:24:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

After one says " Neil is at his peak" , you have no credibility left.Wishfull thinking.

At 2/23/2009 11:46:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

look, neil is still on top of his game live. but as far as songwriting goes, the guy has definitely gotten lazy. but i don't begrudge him for it...if i want to hear peak neil i can go back and listen to the old records. he is still creative and interesting, so i still pay attention. i'd love to see him write another album on par with his classics, but i don't think that's where he's at right now. he's more interested in that goddamn car of his.

-the almighty taint

At 2/23/2009 12:18:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neil has been throwing curve balls at everyone since the Springfield days. How come you don't get it ?! If you want to go back don't expect Neil or me to come with you. We should celebrate this guys incredible muse and realise that he is out there on his own. Top man Neil !!

At 2/23/2009 12:45:00 PM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

Only extremists and dogmatic people deal in absolutes - and shurely no Neil fan is an extrimist?:)

Thank you, Casper. I enjoyed reading your comment. Not because I agree with you, but because you describe perfectly the cross-section of people who listen to his music.

I can be in a room with 100 people of varying ages and everyone will say they like his music, but only half will have anything in their album collection.

My guess is they will be split 50/50 about what they like and don't like.

But.... 25% will own at least Harvest
Rust Never Sleeps
After the Gold Rush
greatest hits sets;

10% will have additionally something from the ditch trilogy;

10% will probably have additionally at least 1 of the last 6 albums he released;

2% will have an extensive collection of his work;

2% will be vehement about Neil's latest releases and say he's washed up or write something like:

If 'the dude' is at his peak, why did he need to include Bluebird & Boxcar then? And Ordinary People for that matter? 20+ year old songs don't get included in an artist is 'at his peak'...

At 2/23/2009 04:19:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And another small minority of losers will steadfastly refuse to accept that Neil has ever released anything other than a masterpiece. There's some people here that do nothing but post gushing reviews of absolutely everything and anything that Neil does. And rip into anyone who dares suggest otherwise. How can someone seriously suggest 'Neil is at his peak' by using the inclusion of Bluebird and Boxcar on Chrome Dreams 2 as evidence? I'd say conversely that the inclusion of those two songs and Ordinary People actually showed signs that he far from his peak. And No Hidden Path? Past glories re-hashed. But a gushing fan will say that it's a homage to those other classics, not a simple re-write.

At 2/24/2009 08:15:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Comment of the moment: Who Really Washed Up?"......
Sounds like my place after dinner!

At 2/24/2009 10:21:00 AM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...


The point is that for as many people looking up at this "peak" there are good many looking down at one, too.

Maybe from where we're standing, too, the view is just fine because we've been on this journey for so long.

I just can't dismiss the motown tribute "Shining Light" and old black balladeering in "The Way" in CDII as anything but rare gems left behind for others to enjoy.

And I can't wait to hear the new release because it'll have undoubtedly a few gems there well other than what we've heard in the funky, pedal to the medal homage, garage-style jive of "Fork in the Road" song.

At 2/24/2009 11:45:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The funny thing is that Neil has already sung about the current situation:

"When faceless and anonymous
Come to beat down your door
And say you're all washed up and done
You can just say they have nothing in store

To touch this soul
Because they just don't know
They just don't know
The way"

At 2/24/2009 01:17:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, so Neil has creative spurts where he over-produces, and decides to put some of his genius away for a later time, for a rainy day, when it FEELS right to put it out there (Boxcar, Bluebird, Ordinary People) - and someday, we'll hear Interstate and other classic gems in all their glory -- you have to see that Neil likes to even out the time between the peaks with dusted off sweetness.

At 2/24/2009 02:13:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neil has:

-- All but abandoned Buffalo Springfield when it was on the verge of monumental success.

-- Walked away from CSNY when it had monumental success.

-- Followed up his biggest solo commercial success with TFA and JTTP, and then got weirder!

-- Performed "Motor City" a laborious and hamfisted joke song sort of about the auto industry nearly 30 years ago.

-- Willfully spent much of the 80s inside characters or caricatures, including producing some videos every bit as silly as FITR.

-- Said or done something at some time not only certain to but maybe designed to alienate large blocs of people (and very different people) at different times.

What a shame. He probably could have had a little success and maybe a fairly long career if he had just censored himself.

Sorry, but YOU might have to do what is expected of you, but he doesn't. don't feel bad. I'm jealous too.

--Not Above Suspicion

At 2/24/2009 02:41:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, "I WILL attack you, and I won't back you?"

Regarding FITR, Neil might say:

Glory hallelujah!
Will I lay my burden down?
Singin on the streets around:
Look at that crazy clown.


At 2/24/2009 02:44:00 PM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

To Not Above Suspicion,

Oh, that kind of success. Don't be jealous. Not everyone succeeds in the way Neil has over the years.

I mean those successful types we see around on television, in the movies, on the radio, reliving their sad, pathetic lives.

Funny thing, though. They don't look half as happy as Neil does half the time.

He may be laughing all the way to the bank, for all I care. The point is that he's still around making music and enjoying his life.

No one can begrudge another for
enjoying their life ... can they? I suspect anyone who is jealous of him might have some other personal issues to deal with, don't you?

At 2/24/2009 02:55:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I tellya what.
One thing this blog site has really done for me is that it has opened up my eyes even further to the knowledge and expertise that you Rusties pocess on Neil. Seriously its a whole new world out there more me,,what with all the links and threads...I really do think "Shonky" will be a best seller.
My kids are so embarrased and "pissed off" with me now that I have become a "blogger"especially since they have to line up for access to the computer!
Oh by the way Thrash, It took me quite a stretch to work out how to get through your security checks. I was really wonderin' if I was ever gunna get back on.
Happy Harvesting!
luv Dip

At 2/24/2009 11:16:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm re-posting something from 2/23/2009 04:59:01 PM because I was having computer issues and it never took.

Neil's albums have ALWAYS contained a mixture of songs -- old and new -- Ragged Glory, Harvest Moon, Eldorado and Freedom, 70s albums too had a mixture ... He wrote Sugar Mountain in '64 ... was he washed up in '77 when he finally recorded it on 'Decade'?

Neil is famous for keeping great songs around for years or decades before finding the right time and album to release them on .. If there is anyone who has no lack of new material its Neil (isn't that the criticism of the day? too many new car songs, 2 years ago it was too many new war songs?), one thing is clear -- he's never dredging up old stuff to fill an album he can't fill another way ... he's basically got dozens of old songs waiting for a home on an album ... and he has the patience and good taste to place them when the time and circumstances are right ...

In the context of Neil's long, distinguished, prolific career this moment in time w/ FITR and all the banter about it is another example of Neil and fans going "round and round and round in the circle game"

At 2/25/2009 03:55:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm fully aware that Neil has always included older songs on albums. I was refuting the argument that including some real old songs on Chrome Dreams 2 somehow meant Neil was 'at his peak'. Wasn't suggesting he couldn't include them, just that it was poor evidence of him being at a creative peak.

he's basically got dozens of old songs waiting for a home on an album ... and he has the patience and good taste to place them when the time and circumstances are right ...

Well, he used to have David Briggs to help him with his 'patience and good taste'. There is no way that Chrome Dreams 2 is where Ordinary People belongs. He's done an epic song a disservive. And Boxcar would have been better on SWA than CD2. Beautiful Bluebird I always thought was written for Rassy, and if so would have been more at home on Prairie Wind, both thematically as well as musically. I feel CD2 would have been a stronger album without those 3 songs, they are all out of place and makes it a 'bits and pieces' album.

At 2/25/2009 08:23:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Briggs was a pretentious F%&N#SOB playing roulette half the time. When he wasn't cashing in on his lucky streak, he was useless.

Was he the guy who ordered all the crap on the Harvest album?

Don't glamorize the past. He was a creep. If he had any redeeming quality, it was that he slept 1/4 of his life.

At 2/25/2009 09:24:00 AM, Blogger Pinto (or Flounder) said...

"The old songs have resonance because of the years and the chance for the songs to develop lives of their own"

NO. No, no, no. The old songs have resonance because they were really good. Are you honestly trying to say that it took a period of time to appreciate Thrasher and Powderfinger and Ambulance Blues and Barstool Blues and I'm the Ocean (my personal top five)?

Contrary to some of what's been said on this topic, I'm not stuck in the Seventies. "I'm the Ocean" is not only, in my opinion, Neil's greatest recording ever, it may be the best single recording that anyone has done since Highway 61. Neil channels the howling ghost of Hunter Thompson in front of the Apocalypse Now rhythm section and says everything that needs to be said about life in the 21st century. Greendale was a brave and beautiful attempt at something different. I still listen to it and "Bandit" deserves a spot in the acoustic showcase.
I'm done arguing about the quality of the stuff that has yet to be recorded. Mother Nature has been very eloquent about the need to wait and see how it turns out. But this argument that crap is going to turn to caviar as it ages is simply wrong.

At 2/25/2009 11:27:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Personal taste is, well, personal. If you absolutely hate a song now then you are unlikely ever to love it.

Someone else who may simply be underwhelmed on initial exposure may grow to love it.

Although, I do believe it is possible to make a case that one song is superior to another based on something more than, "I like this one but dislike that one," I'm not persuaded one can label one song great and another terrible without injecting a large measure of personal bias.

There's nothing wrong with personal bias. It would be dull, drab world without it, but with something as subjective as music or songwriting appreciation we should temper our remarks with acknowledgment that our opinion is but one opinion.

That someone else finds more or less merit in a song or performance than do I doesn't mean his opinion is baseless because of his greater or lesser devotion to the artist.

Are people who are fanatical supporters of a guy more likely to like a particular piece of his than those who are not? Obviously, yes.

That, however, may have less to due with slavish sycophancy than with actually liking the piece more on its perceived merits because something about the artist obviously appeals or the person would not be a huge fan.

Neil has a few albums and numerous songs I don't care for at all. I don't jump to the conclusion that people like them would claim to love anything he did just because we have differing opinions of those works.

They may well have a lesser opinion than me of other works which I like.

I like FITR. I also liked Don't Spook the Horse and T-Bone. I can understand others considering them tossed off trivialities, but to me that's kind of missing the point that he's having fun tossing off trivialities.

If you really appreciate Neil, you learn not to take him more seriously than he takes himself.

--Not Above Suspicion

At 2/25/2009 02:12:00 PM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

Nice try.

Is it, too, this slavic sycophancy that drives your own need for attention?

Or is it that other greek word for arrogant, self-serving individuals who are so preoccupied with a self importance driven by their own need for attention?

At 2/25/2009 02:35:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You come to a Neil Young website lobbing stink bombs which hardly seemed intended to serve a useful purpose and you think others are the ones seeking attention?

Also "slavic" refers to the ethnic group not slaves. If you are going to preen pompously for attention at least use words properly.

At 2/25/2009 03:13:00 PM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

Good point.

I think most of the comments are genuine and honest and certainly not deserving of the characterization of being "sycophantic" just because we like the guy's music.

At 2/25/2009 05:16:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just a few random thoughts..

In the Undercover interviews with Neil's Electric Band (no longer available unfortunately) I believe Chad Cromwell said that the songs on FITR were recorded shortly after they were written, a la LWW. If that's true, I don't think they are going to sound much different from the live performances we've already heard.

Regarding CDII, I don't think the 3 old songs were particularly out of place since Neil wanted to create an album of different styles. Most of the songs are pretty good, my only complaint is with the production. To my ears the original version of Boxcar is a million times better than the one on CDII, in fact I think the original is one of his best songs period. On the other hand, the piano flourishes on
Ordinary People sound a bit dated as well as some of the references. Other songs like The Believer and The Way have good melodies but the overall 'sound' of the songs (ie, the instrumentation) doesn't draw me in and make me want to listen to them repeatedly. Just MHO of course.

As far as the criticism of FITR, we all know Neil will do whatever he wants but at the same time I think we have a right to express our opinions, good or bad. In fact, that's what makes reading the comments here - by die-hard fans, no less - so interesting. Personally I'm not too impressed by what I've heard so far but that's fine. I haven't been blown away by everything he's released but considering how prolific Neil is I just take it in stride.

To those who are unwilling to tolerate *any* criticism of FITR, be honest: if Everybody's Rockin' had not been released in '83 and Neil performed the songs in his recent shows, wouldn't you expect some fans to express their dislike of what they heard? I'm sure even Neil would expect it. My point is that not everything he releases is of the calibre of LAH or Ohio, so you can't really expect everyone to fawn over everything he does.

From the comments on TW, I've noticed that Neil seems to elicit a strange kind of obsessiveness among his fans. There are those who are so moved by his songs that they think Neil can do no wrong no matter what he does ('FITR rocks!'), while others love him so much that that they fault him for any deviation from their perception of what he is capable of ('FITR sucks!'). I think it might be because Neil himself seems to have an obsessive personality and it comes out in his music, where what he's fixated on at the moment is all he cares about, until he moves on to something else which then becomes his all-consuming passion. He's a man of extremes and maybe that's why some of his fans are so possessive of him, they're like that too. He's not called Shakey for nothing.


At 2/26/2009 07:50:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 2/26/2009 08:38:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's my perspective. Neil's recent albums have not excited me as much as much of his earlier work. (Digression: It's funny how time is so relative in the 70s I considered Harvest and "old" album by the time of RNS. now a 10 year old album seems recent.)

Using 10 years and looking at his out put since the CSNY Looking Forward, I'd be hard pressed to put any the albums containing "new" material in my favorites category and I'd have to put LF, AYP and LWW close to the very bottom of any albums Neil has done solo or in a group. I also agree that the general antipathy toward those albums is unlikely to be subject to revisionist appraisals as was the case with TFA, TTN and OTB.

CDII is probably my favorite of the albums.It does contain some old material and it still would probably be somewhere in the middle of my ranking of all his albums. I like S&G, Greendale and PW but I'd probably put them all in the lower half of a ranking.

So, to that extent I am in agreement with those who state Neil's recent work is not on a par with much of his earlier work. I'd be more inclined to say he hasn't delivered the "great" albums that he produced, if not consistently, frequently in the past.

Of course, he and I are both much older now. Honestly, I don't think anything, music or otherwise, can excite and move me as much today as it could when I was young.

I also think that Neil is using the latter portion of his career and the almost unique luxury he has in terms of his relationship with the recording industry to release whatever strikes his fancy at a given moment without regard for any of the factors usually considered. This is not really something new for Neil but in the past even his "challenging" albums seemed more internally diverse musically and topically. now, to an extent, you do get "here's 10 songs one after another that all reflect this attitude and feeling that occupied my thoughts the last month or so." there is an element of unrelenting self-indulgence present, and it's likely that factor which accounts for wide variance in opinions.

Some people (not surprisingly from almost exclusively the cadre of his biggest fans) are closely attuned to Neil's "self." Probably because: (a) they are extremely interested i what Neil is feeling and thinking and the songs and albums provide clues that they value in an "extta-musical" sense; and (b) those people just happen to have "selves" that are more similar to Neil.

That's not being sycophantic, which connotes a sense of uncritical adoration and often insincerity. Neil might just be the last person allowed to "narrowcast" from a major record label.

I think some of today's critics just don't what to make of someone who is allowed to break all the rules and isn't relegated to the underground of obscure corners of the internet and self-published CDs.

Criticizing Neil for failing to deliver things with broad appeal might be accurate but is similar to criticizing health food stores for not delivering sugary treats.

-- Not Above Suspicion

At 2/26/2009 11:29:00 AM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

That was very nice.

Sorry for preening yesterday. Ate some pie and feeling much better.

At 2/26/2009 02:23:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some great comments as usual with "The Usual Suspects" participating......C'mon.."out" yourselves.. give yourself a name...You "ANONYMOUSES"..The Thrasher Patrol ain't comin to your door to getya. Good healthy banter is encouraged.. ain't that right Thrash!

At 2/27/2009 12:22:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Personally I like the anonymous format, it encourages comments that are honest and spontaneous. Sure it's good to add a name at the end in case someone wants to refer to a previous comment, but not having to maintain an identity keeps the discussion more lively I think.


At 2/27/2009 05:53:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's just the point Jed.
By giving yourself a name it gives other bloggers a point of reference to comments, albeit positive of negative.
To me 'Anonymous' reeks of "Name and address witheld for fear of recrimination".Hey, as I said before, its just good healthy banter..Just words.. not bullets or knives..No ones gunna sue....Awh..Is that right Thrash?
"TIC TIC TIC"(tongiue in cheek)


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The Achilles Heel
Orwell (and Grandpa) Was Right
“Emancipate yourself from mental slavery.”
~~ Bob Marley

The Essence of "The Doubters"

Yes, There's Definitely A Hole in The Sky

Even Though The Music Died 50+ Years Ago
Open Up the "Tired Eyes" & Wake up!
"consciousness is near"
What's So Funny About
Peace, Love, & Understanding & Music?


Show Me A Sign

"Who is John Galt?"
To ask the question is to know the answer

"Whosoever shall give up his liberty for a temporary security
deserves neither liberty nor safety."

~~ Benjamin Franklin


(Between the lines of age)

And in the end, the love you take
Is equal to the love you make

~~ John & Paul

the zen of neil
the power of rust
the karma of the wheat