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Friday, February 27, 2009

Life in the Neil Young Cocoon

There are times when we just want to pack it in, buy a pickup truck and head out to L.A.

Here's a comment on Be On My Side, I'll Be On Your Side: The Myth of Washed Up Neil by Robin (Bonn, Germany) said...
Oh my god..

Ok, I am running risk to be labeled as Troll or Hater, even more because I have no legit registration for my comment.

But please. Let people say their opinion. It is okay to think that Neils latest output isn't up there with his classics and his usual "standard". It is also okay to think that the stuff is great and on a level with the old stuff.

Its not about the different opinions on Neils music.

What is really bothering me, is way people deal with negative comments here. Yeah, some of those comments are not well founded. But there are also many postings among these 100+ comments that are honest and thoughtful meanings about Neils new stuff.

And Thrasher. I really like your site and I am a regular visitor. But sometimes one gets the impression, that you are almost getting payed not to get any negative press about Neil. You are almost supressing negative opinions and thoughts.

Let them be. Its ok. Neil is no god. He's just a man, just like you and me. He can do wrong sometimes and he is allowed to do mediocre stuff sometimes. Its ok. It would be scary, if he would never fail.

And so its okay for us to think open minded about what he does. We all here love his music and what this man has done all the years and we love what his music means for our lives.

And still, it is allowed to think, that his newer stuff is not to someones likings. It doesnt touch his old stuff. Its a matter of personal taste and opinions.

Having said this, I will also contribute my opinion on Neils recent work.

I have seen Neil two times on the last tour and those shows rank among the best I've ever seen in my life.

And I was shocked, when I heard the first recordings of the new FITR songs. Those songs dont stack up to any of his backcatalog. They lack soul. They are musically very simple. Neil has often written technically simple music. Cortez exists of three simple chords. And it is miles and miles away from, lets say, When worlds collide. Cortez is an extreme example, but you get what I mean.

I also agree, that he somehow has lost his genious. The Neil I am seeing now is not the one he was a few years ago. He is settled.

I cant imagine him writing those FITR songs e.g. on the 1996 Tour. These were different times.

His latest records lack this very special magic his music usually had for me. I listen to them rarely.

Well, okay. That doesnt change a bit, that he has created the soundtrack for my life. His music will always be connected with my life.

But its a bit sad to see, where he is going the past years. its like losing a dear friend.

Okay, and please understand. This is my personal opinion. I am not bashing anyone. Not you, not Neil. But this is a Neil-Website. Where else should I be able to express those sad thoughts?

its okay to have them. To talk about them.

There is no need to fight about it.

To which we replied back with:


Thank you so much for your comment.

I guess this affords the opportunity to clarify some things. At the risk of boring everyone, most of what I've said on the matter is contained in the Comments Policy which is linked on every comment thread.

To boil it down, I certainly welcome Neil criticism. I think if you read the site regularly,we post negative stuff quite a bit. We also deconstruct it if we find it invalid. Somehow, we find it amusing.

But this is a thread that's been hijacked by someone and their aliases who seem to have an agenda. Neil can do no right in their mind. If it's not FITR is a lousy song, it's the setlists that are too heavy on new songs, the ticket prices are too high, Pegi can't play, and on & on. We're just find the unrelenting negativity by the same person to be disruptive and are trying to put a stop to it.

Folks have let me know they do not like the bad neighborhood feel of TW comments. I'm not trying to make this a total Neil love fest but something enjoyable.

So sometimes I delete comments that are repetitiously negative. It's old news and doesn't advance new arguments or theories.

So we like to think we're tolerant here @ TW. You'd be amazed probably at the amount of crap we let slide as well as the amount we have to trash.

It truly is a pain that makes us wonder why bother? We can turn off comments. we can moderate them. we can require registration.

All of those things would bring the problem to a halt.

And then we'll have our perfect little pristine Neil village.

Thanks for your comment Robin. And most of all your honesty, providing a name and location.

Hope to see you back again someday my friend.

And, we'll expand our response by taking creative license from our all-time favorite blogger Glenn Greenwald:
Fans who want to opine musically or otherwise have an influence on the musical process have -- in our view -- an obligation to engage criticisms.

Our musical discourse is so stratified that bloggers and commenters can get all the exposure they want while confining themselves to hospitable forums and only speaking to sympathetic fans. That, as but one example, is what fuels "access blogging" -- the willingness of fans to comment only to deferential posts, who stay deferential in order to ensure that those fans continue to speak with them, a process that perpetuates itself ad infinitum. That has created a virtually complete -- and quite destructive -- accountability-free zone where musicians and fans alike can simply avoid any form of adversarial questioning or challenges to their claims.

Fans who want to opine critically or otherwise have an influence on the musical process have -- in our view -- an obligation to engage criticisms. That's the reason we do things such as spend 1,000 words on the new songs. That's why we virtually always post complaints and responses from those whom we criticize.

Sometimes these sorts of clashes are unpleasant. Sometimes, due to the fans involved or other factors, they are not constructive. But often they are (as but one example, we unexpectedly found our discussion with Robin to be quite substantive and weirdly respectful). And, in all events, doing these things is something which, if one wants to spout musical opinions in public, one should feel compelled to do [and, to be meaningful, the obligation extends beyond pseudo-debates between such mutually admiring friends (and like-minded comrades) that the bubbly lovefest precludes any serious challenges].

More importantly, it's precisely the ability of musicians, bloggers and fans to avoid meaningful challenges to their views that, more than any other factor, degrades our musical discourse. The reason the Village Voice or UK Guardian disseminate blatant falsehoods and then never bother to correct or even acknowledge those errors -- and the reason people like The Voice's Rob Harvilla can spout the most intellectually dishonest articles imaginable -- is precisely because they know they can just avoid any venues where they will be questioned or challenged about what they say. Those who insulate themselves from critics and just ignore all criticisms, and who speak only to hospitable forums, know that they can say anything without consequence or accountability (just compare the cowardly The Voice's Harvilla or The Guardian's Sean Michaels humiliating history of deceit and error-plagued punditry to their endless promotions within our fan establishment).

In fact, it is precisely this dynamic that makes the absence of adversarial blogging -- and the dominance of access blogging -- so destructive. Some Neil "fans" were able to spend five years spewing the most blatant falsehoods because they knew that most fans wouldn't challenge them or even point out the falsity of their claims.

And, in general, it's hard to overstate how severely the cocooning process can distort reality (see here and here and here for a couple recent, typical examples).

Adversarial challenges to one's statements are a vital check on errors and deceit.

Clashes of ideas are an irreplaceable instrument for truth-finding. Shielding oneself from such challenges (or just ignoring them) is not only irresponsible and cowardly, but ensures that one can opine without accountability. That's why bloggers who have an active, smart and critical comment section with which they interact have a major advantage over forums which hide from critical scrutiny. In all of this, it's reasonable to exercise some discretion -- not all criticisms and/or critics merit attention -- but those who avoid any real challenges to their statements (whether musicians, bloggers, or fans) ought to be stigmatized for doing so, and it ought to be viewed as a powerful indictment against their credibility.


It's My Party. You can come if you want to.

Be the wheat.

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At 2/27/2009 12:44:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Robin - EXCELLENTLY SAID.WELL DONE ! You hit the nail on the head squarely.

At 2/27/2009 01:02:00 PM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

I can so identify with Robin's "it's like losing a friend" because it happens so much in real life.

The people I knew so long ago are so different now. Doing very different things in their life.

My old friends are people who think spending a week in a drunk throwing money away at crap tables in Vegas is vacation.

They laugh at my lifestyle and I laugh at theirs. They think I'm boring and I think they're wasting money and precious time.

So we settled for an annual campfire somewhere. I brought the marshmallows & sticks & wood and they bring the beer & chairs.

And it ended up in brawl because they were loud, obnoxious, and embarrassing to be around.

But I still miss them and wish we could find that middle of the road and have fun like the old days.

But somebody had to move on and I guess it was me.

At 2/27/2009 01:50:00 PM, Blogger Ryan said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 2/27/2009 01:50:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 2/27/2009 01:53:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have read thousands of posts mentioning that Neil's latest efforts range from terrible to not good.
I have read thousands of posts mentioning that Neil has to do more for his fans.
I have read thousands of posts mentioning that FITR ranges from terrible to not good.
Sometimes I have the feeling that many fans have not really got the point. Neil does what he wants to do, full stop. If people like it good, if they don't, so what? He'll do it anyway. Many don't like FITR? He does. That's what counts.

At 2/27/2009 01:53:00 PM, Blogger Ryan said...

Some thoughts on the new songs and Neil's genious.

Imagine driving down a coastal california highway in a 1959 Lincoln Continental. What kind of tunes would you want playing on the radio. You'd want something with groove, bluesy and definitely rockin'. Maybe the lyrics are set in the background of the track so as not to distract you from the incredible passing scenery. The chord changes are simple, but ride with the road and churn with the engine.

Neil has said now that he's older and at this time in his life he is far more open to the things around him. He is a man of modes. Introspective, searching himself, or extroverted, open to the world and wanting to contribute and comment on it directly. He has done this many times over the years begining with Ohio. This new stuff feels very similar to the Living with War stuff. He is still actively engaged with the world, not in introspective mode at all. I personally like that mode because he sings about love, but that's not where he's at right now. He's building cars that might save the earth, talking to politicians, he's doing work in the real world. It's kinda funny to think Neil Young fans might be more aware and knowledgeable about the progress of eco friendly cars than others simply because we have this incredible, trail blazing genious for a hero.

At 2/27/2009 02:13:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Folks!

I was in a big city at a work related symposium, I knew Neil was coming to Kingston... close to home but totally unaware that pre-sales would start near noon the day I was away. A freind of mine came through with excellent stage right tickets, bless him! I'm really looking forward to hearing the new stuff with what else he may play that night. Maybe he'll play The Painter for me... for a freind of mine... Maybe they've been rehearsing a complete reworking of Time Fades Away... now that would be cool too... maybe it'll be all new? Hell, isn't that just way I love it??? I just never know and that in and of itself keeps my anticipation high!


At 2/27/2009 03:14:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hummm, I say that the news of Neil's "death" might be a tad exaggerated.

I seem to recall picking up Reactor, Landing on Water, The Shocking Pinks, and Old Ways and thinking to myself "my, oh, my, my buddy Neil is washed up" That was about 5 great albums ago (and 7 concerts I've attended). Let's let FITR pass - I would lay money down that there is another "Freedom", "Sleeps with Angels", or "Ragged Glory" rolling down the avenue...

To all my friends, I've come to love him, there's a load of him, waiting for you...

and once again, I'll state that regarding FITR, Neil might simply say ..

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


At 2/27/2009 03:27:00 PM, Anonymous Jessie James said...

Your site has become a Debate Magnet and is becoming quite dull. Stop instigating flame wars between the rusties and focus more on peace and love.
Jessie James

At 2/27/2009 04:08:00 PM, Blogger Thrasher said...

Hi Jesse,
Thanks for feedback.

Go back and read post. I think you missed the point.


At 2/27/2009 06:13:00 PM, Anonymous dr dip said...

Hey Jessie "peace and love" died in the early seventies I'm afraid.
That Utopian world of the "Magical Mystery Tour" is well and truly over. The Magic Mushies have been replaced by things more sinister. The mid Fifties,(age)is a time to reflect and be nostalgic. Healthy debate is what makes the world go round and healthy debate about anything 'Neil' is always fun and unpredictible.Neil thrives on confrontation and controversy and probably gets a laugh when people and critics get soo analytical and deep about his ideals and projects.Thats the beauty of this site and the man!

At 2/27/2009 06:34:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

go to this link and download embed and share the video.
Stay tuned to and here on thrashers for an important announcement regarding this video...later today.

thank you,
Shakey Pictures

At 2/27/2009 09:58:00 PM, Blogger wardo said...

In the end, if people don't like what they read, they don't have to keep showing up. As for me, I like what I read on Thrasher's Wheat. That's why I visit several times a day to see what's new.

I know. Nobody asked me. I'm saying it anyway.

At 2/28/2009 10:17:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think some of you take the whole thing to seriously. I enjoy very much listening to the new songs. I agree they're not Down by the River or Hurricane, but I really enjoy them. I also still enjoy listening to Reactor and Landing on Water. Living With War is one of my favourites. I played it over and over again. I think we all agree in which songs are Neil's masterpieces. But I really look forward to FITR. It's funky, bluesy, groovy, rocky. I enjoy that. I don't need to analyse this in pieces. Neil's hit me with the new record. Again.


At 2/28/2009 10:38:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Get a life people! There are bigger fish to fry!!

At 2/28/2009 03:11:00 PM, Anonymous Rick A, NSB, FL said...

Hey let's please not forget that it sometimes takes a while before a song grows on you.

That's happened to me more than once with Neil

At 3/01/2009 12:15:00 PM, Anonymous AK said...

relax, it's music people. no one is going to agree on everything all the time. thrasher, you are taking yourself and all this stuff WAY too seriously. your reply to robin is actually pretty disturbing. i hope you put this much thought and effort in your own life.

sure, it's your party. but you're using neil as bait.


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